Former Bulldog Dench Top Australian Rookie

April 17, 2001

Axel Dench, a 2000 graduate of Gonzaga University, has been named the 2001 Mitsubishi Motors NBL Rookie of the Year in Australia.

Dench will lead his Wollongong Hawks into the Mitsubishi Challenge NBL finals against the Townsville Crocodiles beginning Sunday. Woolongong earned the berth in the finals with a 2-1 series edge over Adelaide, winning the decisive game Monday.

The award is determined by a vote of all NBL Mitsubishi Challenge head coaches, assistant coaches (one per team) and team captains (one per team), on a 3-2-1 vote basis. Dench polled 71 out of a maximum 90 votes to win the award ahead of teammate Damon Lowery who was second with 66 votes.

Dench averaged 14 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, making 47 percent of his field attempts including 45 percent outside the three-point arc.

Dench was the first choice in 16 ballots, while Lowery was not far behind having been the first choice of 13 voters.

Dench is the third Wollongong Hawks player to receive the Rookie of the Year award, with Greg Hubbard (1987) and Justin Withers (1989) having won previously.

The past five winners of the Mitsubishi Motors NBL Rookie of the Year have been Derek Moore (Sydney Kings, 2000), Damien Ryan (Canberra Cannons, 1999), David Smith (North Melbourne Giants, 1998), Matt Nielsen (Sydney Kings, 1997), and Scott McGregor (Newcastle Falcons, 1996).

Top four voting results were:

1. Axel Dench (Wollongong Hawks) 71
2. Damon Lowery (Wollongong Hawks) 66
3. Wade Helliwell (Brisbane Bullets) 26
4. Geordie Cullen (Canberra Cannons) 13



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