Aug. 13, 2003
Los Angeles, Calif. (Aug. 13) - After tallying the ballots of the National Advisory Board, the John R. Wooden Award, widely known as the most coveted individual honor in men's college basketball, announced on Wednesday the first ever Wooden Women's Award Preseason All-American Team, composed of the top 30 players who are expected to make a run for the Award, based on last year's individual performance and team records.
Only returning players are eligible for the Preseason Team, although transfers and freshmen as well as other players who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for the Midseason Top 20 List and the National Ballot.
Beginning this season, the John R. Wooden Award will be presented annually to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player. According to Mike Solum, Director of the Wooden Award, the Wooden Women's Award has been a longtime goal. The idea came to fruition due to the strong interest and financial support of Applied Materials, a sponsor for the men's Wooden Award since 2000 and now the presenting sponsor for the Women's Award.
"We are thrilled to finally recognize the top women's players for their efforts and hard work," said Solum. "The creation of this award is long overdue, and we are especially grateful to Applied Materials for their support in bringing this idea to life."
Highlighting the list of Preseason candidates are guards Diana Taurasi (Connecticut) and Alana Beard (Duke). Taurasi led the Huskies to their second straight national championship last season, averaging 17.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. Beard led the Blue Devils to an ACC record 35 victories, a second consecutive Final Four appearance and ACC Regular Season and ACC Tournament titles while averaging 22.0 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 3.0 assists and 1.3 blocks per game.
Eight NCAA conferences are represented, including the SEC (7 players), Big 12 (6 players), Big East (5 players), Pac 10 (4 players), Big 10, (4 players), ACC (2 players), Conference USA (1 player), and Big West (1 player). Each of last year's Final Four teams boasts two representatives on the Preseason team including Connecticut (Taurasi and Ann Strother), Duke (Beard and Iciss Tillis), Texas (Stacy Stephens and Heather Schreiber), and Tennessee (Shyra Ely and Loree Moore). Penn State and Kansas State also stand out with two nominations apiece.
In mid-January, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official voting ballot, consisting of the top 10-15 players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA.
Over 250 voters, comprised of sports media members and women's college basketball experts across the nation, will then cast their votes for the five-member All-American team and Wooden Award honor as the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player in the United States.
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation's best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his university that he is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Michael Jordan ('84), Larry Bird ('79), Tim Duncan ('97) and last year's recipient, T.J. Ford ('03). Tabulation for all voting is calculated by Deloitte & Touche.
For more information on the John R. Wooden Award, visit www.woodenaward.com.
Wooden Women's Award Preseason All-America Team
Top 30 Candidates
(Based on a preseason poll. Players listed alphabetically.)
Seimone Augustus (Louisiana State)
Jacqueline Batteast (Notre Dame)
Alana Beard (Duke)
Jenni Benningfield (Vanderbilt)
Tera Bjorklund (Colorado)
Rebekkah Brunson (Georgetown)
Shameka Christon (Arkansas)
Shyra Ely (Tennessee)
Ebony Hoffman (Southern California)
Chandi Jones (Houston)
Kelly Mazzante (Penn State)
Giuliana Mendiola (Washington)
Loree Moore (Tennessee)
Nicole Ohlde (Kansas State)
Jia Perkins (Texas Tech)
Shawntinice Polk (Arizona)
Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers)
Nicole Powell (Stanford)
Heather Schreiber (Texas)
Stacy Stephens (Texas)
Ann Strother (Connecticut)
Diana Taurasi (Connecticut)
Lindsay Taylor (UC Santa Barbara)
Christi Thomas (Georgia)
Iciss Tillis (Duke)
Kendra Wecker (Kansas State)
Lindsay Whalen (Minnesota)
Tan White (Mississippi State)
Shereka Wright (Purdue)
Tanisha Wright (Penn State)