March 13, 2002
TUCSON, Ariz. - University of Arizona men's basketball players Jason Gardner and Luke Walton were recently among 20 student-athletes selected as finalists for the 2002 John R. Wooden Award ballot, announced Wooden Award chairman Richard "Duke Llewellyn. The announcement signifies the final group of players in contention for the Wooden Player of the Year Award.
Gardner, a 5-foot-10, 181-pound junior guard from Indianapolis, Ind., was a third team All-America pick Tuesday by the Associated Press. He currently leads the Wildcats with a 20.5 points per game average and chips in with 2.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, while averaging 38.1 minutes per game. Through 31 games, Gardner is shooting 43.1 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from three-point range, and last week became just the third player in school history to tally at least 100 three-point field goals in a single season. He currently ranks in the top 10 in eight Arizona career statistical categories.
Walton, a 6-foot-8, 241-pound junior forward from San Diego, Calif., was the 2002 Pac-10 Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player after averaging 22.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists in UA's three tournament wins. On the year, Walton has started all 28 games in which he has played and averages 15.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. He has 22 double-figure scoring games to his credit in 2001-02 and five double-figure assist games. Walton leads the Wildcats with nine double-doubles this season, including his first career triple-double (27 points/11rebounds/10 assists) on Jan. 17 vs. USC. He is the Pac-10 leader in assists (6.3 apg).
Arizona is one of four schools nationally to have two finalists on this year's ballot, joining Kansas, Maryland and Duke.
Each of the 20 players has met the criteria to be considered on the official ballot. In addition to focusing on important teachings of the Award's namesake, such as team play and strength of character, the criteria includes a prerequisite exclusive to the Wooden Award: scholastic achievement. Each student-athlete must be accredited by his school as maintaining a cumulative 2.0 grade point average since enrolling and must be making progress toward graduation.
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. Past winners include such notables as Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Sean Elliott, Tim Duncan and Shane Battier.
The 2002 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Wooden Award All-American team will be held at the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Sunday, April 7th and will be televised live nationally on Fox Sports Net for the fifth straight year.
Gardner, Walton and the Wildcats (22-9) open the 2002 NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed in the West Region. The squad takes on UC-Santa Barbara Thursday, March 14, in Albuquerque, N.M. Tip-off is approximately scheduled for 8:15 p.m. MST and can be seen on CBS-TV.
2002 JOHN R. WOODEN AWARD FINALISTS (Listed Alphabetically)
Lonny Baxter 6'8" Sr. F Maryland Caron Butler 6'7" So. F Connecticut Dan Dickau 6'0" Sr. G Gonzaga Juan Dixon 6'3" Sr. G Maryland Erwin Dudley 6'8" Jr. F Alabama Mike Dunleavy 6'9" Jr. F Duke Jason Gardner 5'10" Jr. G Arizona Drew Gooden 6'10" Jr. F Kansas Udonis Haslem 6'9" Sr. C Florida Kirk Hinrich 6'3" Jr. G Kansas Casey Jacobsen 6'6" Jr. G/F Stanford Jared Jeffries 6'10" So. F Indiana Frederick Jones 6'4" Sr. F Oregon Steve Logan 6'1" Sr. G Cincinnati Hollis Price 6'1" Jr. G Oklahoma Tayshaun Prince 6'9" Sr. F Kentucky Luke Walton 6'8" Jr. F Arizona David West 6'9" Jr. F Xavier Frank Williams 6'3" Jr. G Illinois Jason Williams 6'2" Jr. G Duke