The John R. Wooden Award®, the preeminent collegiate basketball player of the year award, was presented this evening at Club Nokia by Los Angeles Athletic Club President Steve Hathaway and longtime Wooden family friend and Basketball Hall of Famer Ann Meyers Drysdale to University of Connecticut junior Breanna Stewart. The announcement was made live on ESPN2 as part of the inaugural ESPN College Basketball Awards. Meyers Drysdale and Hathaway presented Stewart with the Wooden Award Trophy whose unique design was inspired by Coach Wooden’s ideal of the “total basketball player.”
Stewart is a two-time Wooden Award All American and three-time national champion, most recently leading the Huskies to the 2015 NCAA title in Tampa on Tuesday. She is the fourth winner from Connecticut, following Maya Moore (2011 and 2009) and Tina Charles (2010). Connecticut players have won the award in four of the last seven seasons. She is the first winner from the American Athletic Conference, which started play in 2014. Stewart, a 6-4 forward, averaged 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in just 28 minutes per game for a 38-1 Husky team that won its contests by an average of 40.6 points.
Voting took place from March 12 through 25, allowing voters to take into account play through the round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Voters are national women’s college basketball experts who ranked 15 balloted players, and Stewart recorded the highest point total. All players have proven to their universities that they are making progress toward graduation and are maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA, an important component of the Award insisted upon by Coach Wooden.
Voters ranked players from five through one. Stewart received 469 points, followed by Jewell Loyd of Notre Dame with 440, Tiffany Mitchell of South Carolina with 296, Nina Davis of Baylor with 239 and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of Connecticut with 234. All five players are Wooden Award All Americans for 2015.
The John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year was announced as part of a weekend-long celebration of college basketball at the Los Angeles Athletic Club and ESPN’s inaugural College Basketball Awards Presented by Wendy’s. The events honor the Men's and Women's Wooden Award winners, and includes the presentation of the Wooden Award All American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, this year given to Steve Fisher of San Diego State.
About the John R. Wooden Award
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Candace Parker (’07 and ’08), Kevin Durant (’09) and Maya Moore of Connecticut (’09 and ‘11). Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike won the 2014 John R. Wooden Award.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities’ general scholarship funds 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 day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club tomorrow.
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