Morrison Named Naismith Finalist

March 24, 2006

ATLANTA - Four of the nation's top men's college basketball players, including Gonzaga University's Adam Morrison, have been named as finalists for the Naismith Trophy presented by Cingular Wireless, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced.

University of Connecticut's Rudy Gay, Villanova University's Allan Ray and Duke University's J.J. Redick join Morrison for the final ballot - and now the fans have a chance to vote for their favorite using text messaging.

Finalists were chosen through a vote by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, who narrowed the mid-season list of 30 candidates down to the final four. The Board, which is comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, based its criteria on player performance this season.

"Each of these finalists is an elite player and has proven his abilities as an individual and as a leader on his team as evidenced by each of their teams making it to the Sweet 16," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. "Each is an All American and their teams have been ranked in the top 10 all season long."

Cingular Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier, will again give fans a prominent voice in selecting the winner. Fan voting, through the power and ease of text messaging, will account for 25% of the selection process. This program sets the standard for integrating fans into the voting process and providing them with more input than with any other major collegiate sports award.

Fans can text message "VOTE" to "87654" to receive the final ballot and participate in the voting process.

"Each of the four finalists for the Naismith Trophy has been an integral component to his team's success this season," said Marc Lefar, chief marketing officer for Cingular. "Any of these outstanding players would make a worthy recipient when this prestigious award is presented on April 2. We are excited to again integrate our wireless technology and provide college basketball's true experts, the fans, with an influential voice in the voting process."

The Men's College Player of the Year will be announced in Indianapolis on Sunday, April 2. The four finalists will attend the National Association of Basketball Coaches Awards Show where the winner will be presented the Naismith Trophy.

Villanova's Ray (6-2, 195) is averaging 18.8 points per game to help lead the Wildcats to their first Big East regular season championship since 1997 and their first No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed in school history. An All-Big East First Team selection, Ray has been one of the top shooters in the country, connecting on 40.0 percent from the field and 89.5 percent from the free throw line. Ray also shot 37.8 percent from three-point range, connecting on a team-high 95 treys.

Connecticut's Gay (6-9, 220) is averaging 15.2 points, 2.1 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game. The sophomore forward was named to the First Team All America squad by the NABC and was a unanimous selection to the All Big East First Team. Gay has led the Huskies in scoring 12 times and recorded six double doubles. He is the only player in the country averaging 15+ points, 6+ rebounds, 2+ assists, 1.5+ steals and 1.5+ blocks per game.

Gonzaga's Adam (6-8, 205) is the nation's leading scorer, averaging 28.4 points per game and was the West Coast Conference's Player of the Year. The junior forward topped 30 points 14 times and turned in five 40-point efforts for the Bulldogs this season earning him a selection to the USBWA All America First Team.

Duke's Redick (6-4, 190) is averaging 27.4 points per game, 2.7 assists per game, and has 49 steals on the season. The senior guard has hit 136 three-pointers (42.4%) this season - the 12th most in NCAA history. Redick has reached double figures in all 35 games this season and is now Duke's and the ACC's scoring leader with 2,758 career points. He was named First Team All America by the USBWA, First Team All ACC and was named ACC Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons.

CBS Sports will profile the four Naismith Trophy finalists during its coverage of the 2006 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. Voting for the Naismith Trophy Men's College Basketball Player of the Year will end on Saturday, April 1 at 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

Last year's Naismith Trophy recipient was University of Utah center Andrew Bogut. Other notable men's college player of the year winners include Bill Walton, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Christian Laettner.

 

 

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