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Four Men's Basketball Players Selected to Preseason Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year List
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 09/26/2000
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TUCSON, Ariz. - With the start of practice just three weeks away, the University of Arizona men's basketball team already leads the nation in one category preseason awards candidates.

The list of preseason candidates for the 2000-01 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award was released Tuesday by the Atlanta Tipoff Club and four Arizona players head the list. Loren Woods, Michael Wright, Richard Jefferson and Jason Gardner were among 30 players recognized.

Of those 30 players nominated, no other school had as many as Arizona's four selections. Two schools (Duke and Maryland) had three nominees, while three others (North Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee) had two selections apiece.

Woods, a 7-foot-1, senior center, earned Pacific-10 Conference Newcomer of the Year and All-Pac-10 First Team honors in his first season on the court at Arizona after averaging 15.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game. He recorded eight double-doubles, a triple-double, scored in double figures 23 times and tied an NCAA record with 14 blocked shots against Oregon on Feb. 3. The senior garnered Associated Press Honorable Mention All-American and Basketball News All-America second team accolades to go with USWBA All-District 9 first team and NABC All-District 15 second team honors.

Wright, a 6-foot-7, junior forward, is one of the nation's top players. An All-Pac-10 first team performer after leading the team in rebounding (8.7 rpg) and finishing second on the team in scoring (15.5 ppg) last year, Wright shot 56.9 percent from the floor and became just the second UA sophomore to score 500 or more points in a season. He earned Associated Press Honorable Mention All-America honors last year and picked up USBWA District 9 and NABC District 15 first team accolades as well. Wright led the conference with 13 double-doubles, bringing his career total to 25 in 63 games.

Jefferson, a 6-foot-7, junior forward, is one of the most athletic players in the country. He averaged 11.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game in 21 games last year. Jefferson finished the season shooting .503 from the floor and .425 from three-point range. Jefferson was averaging 12.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, and 3.3 apg before suffering a stress fracture in his right foot on Jan. 8 that forced him to miss 13 games.

Gardner, a 5-foot-10, sophomore guard, will enter 2000-01 as one of the country's premiere point guards. Named the National Freshman of the Year last season by the United States Basketball Writer's Association, Basketball Times and Basketball News, ESPN.com and Dick Vitale, Gardner became the first Arizona freshman to be named to the All-Pac-10 first team. Gardner started 33 of 34 games and averaged 12.6 points, 4.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game.

The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts. Members of the board were asked to name the top players who are most likely to be in contention for the honor.

The Naismith Awards program, now in its 33rd year, honors the outstanding college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.

The Wildcats, coached by Lute Olson, return five starters and 10 lettermen from last season's squad that posted a 27-7 record and tied for the 2000 Pac-10 championship.

Naismith Men's College Basketball Player of the Year Preseaon Watch List (Listed Alphabetically)

Player, School

Shane Battier, Duke

Lonny Baxter, Maryland

Charlie Bell, Michigan State

Carlos Boozer, Duke

Cory Bradford, Illinois

Eric Chenowith, Kansas

Jarron Collins, Stanford

Juan Dixon, Maryland

Joseph Forte, North Carolina

Jason Gardner, Arizona

Tony Harris, Tennessee

Udonis Haslem, Florida

Brendan Haywood, North Carolina

Casey Jacobson, Stanford

Richard Jefferson, Arizona

Joe Johnson, Arkansas

Ken Johnson, Ohio State

Kaspars Kambala, UNLV

Jason Kapono, UCLA

Mike Kelley, Wisconsin

Terence Morris, Maryland

Troy Murphy, Notre Dame

Tayshaun Prince, Kentucky

Kenny Satterfield, Cincinnati

Brian Scalabrine, Southern California

Jamaal Tinsley, Iowa State

Jason Williams, Duke

Loren Woods, Arizona

Michael Wright, Arizona

Vincent Yarbrough, Tennessee

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