Winner to be announced April 9

LOS ANGELES -- Seventeen players, including LSU's Seimone Augustus, have been named finalists for the 2005 Women's Wooden Award.

Presented annually to the nation's top female collegiate basketball player, the Wooden Award winner will be announced April 9 during a live, national CBS telecast at 1 p.m. ET from The Los Angeles Athletic Club.

In all, nine seniors, five juniors, two sophomore and a freshman will be represented on the ballot. The underclassmen include Stanford rookie Candice Wiggins and sophomores Tiffany Jackson (Texas) and Jessica Davenport (Ohio State).

Seven NCAA conferences are represented on the Wooden Award ballot, including the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Conference USA, Pac-10 and SEC. The best-represented conferences include the Big Ten and Big 12, with four candidates each, and the SEC, which has three players nominated. Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers is the only candidate on the national ballot who was not a Wooden Award Midseason nominee.

This is the second year for the Women's Wooden Award. Duke's Alana Beard earned the inaugural honor in 2004.

"We never imagined the selection process would be so difficult this year, which is testimony to the wealth of talent that exists in women's college basketball," said Richard "Duke" Llewellyn, founder and chairman of the Wooden Award. "The Wooden Award National Advisory Board feels that these 17 players are the most deserving for consideration, and we applaud each of them for their outstanding effort both on and off the court."

In order to be considered for the national ballot, all players must have been accredited by their university as meeting the Wooden Award criteria, which includes making normal progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. It should be noted that all players considered for the national ballot, including those on the midseason list, were deemed eligible as meeting the Wooden Award academic requirements.

A panel of more than 200 voters comprised of sports media members and women's college basketball experts from around the nation will cast their votes for both the five-member All-American Team and Wooden Award recipient. The Wooden Award has a March 28 deadline to allow voters to evaluate players up until the Elite Eight has been determined.

The 2005 award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men's and Women's Wooden Award, the Wooden Award All-American Teams, and Legends of Coaching award recipient (Connecticut men's coach Jim Calhoun), will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 9, and will be broadcast live on a national CBS telecast. The top five male and female finalists will be invited to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony and will receive a contribution from the John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund for their university's general scholarship fund.

The 2005 Women's Wooden Award Ballot for National Player of the Year (players listed alphabetically):

Player Ht Yr. Pos School
Seimone Augustus 6-1 Jr. G LSU
Jacqueline Batteast 6-2 Sr. F Notre Dame
Steffanie Blackmon 6-2 Sr. F Baylor
Lindsay Bowen 5-7 Jr. G Michigan State
Monique Currie 6-0 Jr. G/F Duke
Jessica Davenport 6-4 So. C Ohio State
Sandora Irvin 6-3 Sr. F TCU
Tiffany Jackson 6-3 So. F Texas
Temeka Johnson 5-3 Sr. G LSU
Janel McCarville 6-2 Sr. C Minnesota
Cappie Pondexter 5-9 Sr. G Rutgers
Khara Smith 6-2 Jr. F DePaul
Kendra Wecker 5-11 Sr. F Kansas State
Tan White 5-8 Sr. G Mississippi State
Candace Wiggins 5-11 Fr. G Stanford
Tanisha Wright 5-11 Sr. G Penn State
Sophia Young 6-1 Jr. F Baylor