Feb. 8, 2002
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - As the college basketball season's race towards the national championship heats up, the list of candidates for the inaugural 2002 Senior CLASS Award has been trimmed down to ten finalists for both men and women.
The finalists on the men's side include Maurice Baker of Oklahoma State, Lonny Baxter and Juan Dixon of Maryland, Sam Clancy of USC, Dan Dickau of Gonzaga, Lynn Greer of Temple, Udonis Haslem of Florida, Steve Logan of Cincinnati, Tayshaun Prince of Kentucky and Preston Shumpert of Syracuse.
The formation of the Senior CLASS Award - an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School - was announced at the beginning of this year's college basketball season. The performances of 30 "Players to Watch" for both men and women have been tracked during the season. From that pool of players, a national committee of sportscasters and sportswriters who cover college basketball on the Division I level selected 10 Finalists.
The names of these Finalists will appear on the official ballot during the national voting process in March. The selection of the first-ever men's and women's award winner will be based on the cumulative ballots of the national media committee and Division I college basketball coaches. The winner will be announced during the respective NCAA Final Four events in March.
The honorees will be presented with their award at the Senior CLASS Award Tribute Gala, a black-tie dinner scheduled to take place at Kansas City's Westin Crown Center on Saturday, April 20, 2002.
"All of the award finalists have had tremendous seasons to this point," said Mark Fountain, Chairman of the Kansas City Club organizing committee. "We feel this focus on college seniors, and the commitment they are making to the universities they represent, is a great thing to honor. We look forward to presenting the first annual awards to the winners in April."
The Senior CLASS Award concept was instigated by CBS sportscaster Dick Enberg during the telecast of the 2001 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game. Enberg was inspired by the decision of former Duke All-American Shane Battier, who, following an outstanding junior season, chose to return for his senior year rather than leave school early for the riches of the NBA. The Award honors the top male and female senior collegiate basketball players who have remained committed to their university and team despite the overwhelming pressure to join the ranks of the professionals.
The 2002 Men's Senior CLASS Award finalists:
? Despite an injury that has trimmed his minutes, Oklahoma State guard Maurice Baker leads the Cowboys in scoring with 15.5 points per game while dishing out 3.6 assists per game.
? Maryland forward Lonny Baxter is contributing 15.5 points per game for the 3rd ranked Terrapins and leads all Senior CLASS Award finalists with an average of 1.9 blocks per contest.
? The Pac-10's lone Senior CLASS Award finalist, USC's Sam Clancy, leads the Trojans in scoring with 18.7 points per game and his 9.7 rebounds per game tops all other Senior CLASS Award finalists.
? Dan Dickau of Gonzaga leads the West Coast Conference in scoring with an average of 20.5 points per game, including a season high 39 points on 67% shooting in a 94-80 win over Portland on February 2nd.
? Guard Juan Dixon's 19.5 points per game average leads the team and his 3.3 steals per game makes him the ACC's leading thief. Dixon is also hitting 91% of his free-throws, best among Senior CLASS Award finalists.
? Temple's Lynn Greer has scored 43 and 34 in his last two games, both Owl victories. He is averaging 23.0 points per game and leads all Senior CLASS Award finalists in scoring.
? Florida's Udonis Haslem, often considered the best big man in the SEC, is averaging a team high 16.2 points per game on 57 % shooting while leading the conference with 9.4 rebounds per contest.
? Steve Logan of Cincinnati is leading the Bearcats in scoring with 21.5 points per game and also ranks first among Senior CLASS Award finalists with 5.1 assists per game.
? Kentucky forward Tayshaun Prince is the 9th ranked Wildcats leading scorer and rebounder, contributing 16.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest.
? In 24 games, Syracuse's Preston Shumpert is averaging 20.3 points per contest, ranking him second among the Big East conference leaders.