Friday, April 11, 2008
Tar Heels' Hansbrough, Lady Vols' Parker claim Wooden Award
LOS ANGELES -- He already earned an armful, but Tyler Hansbrough took one last bit of brass Friday night.
The North Carolina junior won the John R. Wooden Award as college basketball's top player, giving him essentially a sweep of the season's individual honors, including The Associated Press college basketball player of the year award.
"It means a lot," said Hansbrough, who finished fifth in the voting for the award last year. "I was in just in such a great situation with coaches and teammates. I feel like I've improved so much."
He earned 4,653 points in the voting to beat out second-place Michael Beasley of Kansas State (4,402), who was followed by Kevin Love of UCLA (3,021), D.J. Augustin of Texas (2,266) and Stephen Curry of Davidson (1,936).
All the finalists were at the ceremony at the Los Angeles Sheraton except Love, who has returned to Oregon to be with his family and decide about his pro prospects.
Tennessee's Candace Parker, who led the Volunteers to their second-straight national championship on Tuesday, won the women's award for the second straight year.
More than 1,000 national media and college basketball experts cast votes based on players' regular and postseason performances, character and academic performance. Unlike most player of the year awards, votes could be cast as late as the NCAA Tournament's regional round.
Hansbrough led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring (22.8) and rebounding (10.3) as the Tar Heels (36-2) were ranked No. 1 for all but six weeks this season and went to the Final Four.
The NCAA title was the one trophy he was denied, which may influence his decision whether to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft. He has revealed very little about his plans for next season.
"I haven't decided," Hansbrough said. "I just haven't really had time. It's been so quick after the season. I haven't had time to get everything under control."
Hansbrough said he wasn't setting any hard deadlines, but said he plans to return to school and talk to Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.
"After a week or so we'll see what happens," he said.
It seemed everyone in the room was asking the "will-you-stay-or-will-you-go?" question of Hansbrough and the other finalists, though answers were unlikely.
Ceremony host Tommy Hawkins asked Hansbrough from the stage "Are you man enough?"
Hansbrough later said he didn't know whether the question meant he was man enough to stay in college or to go pro.
Hansbrough just stammered into the microphone "I have confidence."
"I was kind confused, so I was just agreeing with him," Hansbrough said afterwards. "I didn't want to look like an idiot."
Hansbrough joined Phil Ford (1978), Michael Jordan (1984) and Antawn Jamison (1998) as national players of the year from North Carolina.
Hansbrough more than assured he will have his jersey retired in Chapel Hill along with those three and James Worthy.
For a North Carolina men's player to have his jersey retired, he must win at least one of six national player of the year awards: The Associated Press, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, Sporting News, the Naismith Award and the Wooden Award.
Hansbrough has won all six.
"It would be nice to win them all over again next year, but still I have to improve a lot and make some decisions," Hansbrough said.
Parker's win capped off a huge week for the 6-foot-4 junior.
She was already in Los Angeles where she was introduced Friday by the L.A. Sparks, who made her the No. 1 pick in Wednesday's WNBA draft.
Parker's coach Pat Summit, whose title on Tuesday was her eighth, won the Legends of Coaching Award.
The awards are named for the former UCLA coach who guided the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships in a 12-year span before retiring in 1975.
For the third time since the inception of the award, Wooden didn't attend the ceremony. The Wooden family announced in August 2005 that he would no longer participate because of a trademark dispute concerning the use of his name.
The 97-year-old coach was recently hospitalized after breaking his left wrist and collarbone in a fall at home on Feb. 29.