New Orleans (March 31, 2012)— The John R. Wooden Award®, the preeminent men’s collegiate basketball player of the year award, was presented today on ESPN by Coach John Wooden’s grandson, Greg, on behalf of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, to University of Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis. Greg Wooden made the announcement on College GameDay and presented Davis with the Wooden Award Trophy whose unique design was inspired by Coach Wooden’s idea of the “total basketball player.” The 36th Annual Wooden Award Gala, honoring Davis and the entire Wooden All American Team, will take place Friday April 6 at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.
A 6-10 forward, Davis earned college basketball’s most prestigious honor after an outstanding freshman season in which he averages 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks. He shoots 64.2 percent from the field and has recorded 19 double-doubles. He has led his team to a 36-2 overall record, tonight’s Final Four matchup with Louisville, and an undefeated Southeastern Conference season. He is the second freshman to win the Wooden Award; Texas’ Kevin Durant won in 2007.
A native of Chicago, Davis is the first Kentucky player to win the Wooden Award, and also the first Southeastern Conference player to be honored. Davis was the SEC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Freshman of the Year. John Wall of Kentucky was a Wooden Award finalist in 2010 and was joined on the Wooden All American team by DeMarcus Cousins.
Voters include hundreds of national college basketball media who selected and ranked 10 players. Davis had 3,350 points, outdistancing second-place finisher Thomas Robinson of Kansas (3,017). Rounding out the top five were Draymond Green of Michigan State (2,825), Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (2,425), and Tyler Zeller of North Carolina (1,793). The ten-player All American team also included in alphabetical order Isaiah Canaan, Murray State; Jae Crowder, Marquette; Marcus Denmon, Missouri; Kevin Jones, West Virginia; and Doug McDermott, Creighton.
All players proved that they are making progress toward graduation and are maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Voters were asked to take into account performance during the regular season and postseason through the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament, as well as a player’s character and academic performance, essential components of an outstanding player. The winner will receive a contribution from The Los Angeles Athletic Club for their university’s general scholarship fund.
In addition to honoring the Wooden All American teams next week, the “Legends of Coaching” Award will be given to University of Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma. The women’s Wooden Award winner also will be announced next Friday. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Maya Moore (’09, ’11) and Blake Griffin (’09).
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the All American recipients. The Award has also sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week long college basketball camps in the Award’s name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club April 7.