October 29, 2009
ATLANTA – West Virginia University’s Da’Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks are among 50 players under consideration for the Naismith Trophy, awarded to college basketball’s top player. The initial list was announced today.
Butler was named to the all-Big East preseason first team chosen last week by the conference coaches while Ebanks was picked to the second team.
Butler, a senior, averaged 17.1 points and 5.9 rebounds per game last year for the Mountaineers. Ebanks was third on the team in scoring as a freshman averaging 10.5 points per game while also grabbing a team-best 7.8 rebounds per game.
Earlier today, West Virginia cracked the preseason Top 25 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN coaches’ polls.
The Big XII Conference has claimed two of the last three Naismith Trophies for Men’s College Player of the Year, and has done so with a sophomore (Blake Griffin, Oklahoma, 2009) and a freshman (Kevin Durant, Texas, 2007). The tide may turn in 2010 as upperclassman claim 33 of the 50 spots in the Naismith 2009-10 preseason watch list, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today. Seniors (19) and juniors (14) lead the way followed by 12 sophomores and five freshmen.
Two conferences – the Big East and Atlantic Coast – placed nine representatives apiece while the Big XII and SEC each had eight. Big XII member Kansas was represented by three players while six other schools featured two candidates.
The watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2009-10 college basketball season. The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T will be awarded at the 2010 NCAA Men’s Final Four in Indianapolis, Ind.
“The level of talent is exceptional across all teams, conferences and classes, which further underscores just how many candidates have a legitimate chance to win this award,” said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. “We are looking forward to the start of the season and to see who will end the year as the winner of the Naismith Trophy, the most prestigious award in college basketball.”
Since 2005, presenting sponsor AT&T has set the standard in allowing fans to participate in determining the trophy winner. Through the power and ease of text messaging, fan voting will account for an unprecedented 25% of the final results – more than any other national college basketball award. In February, during CBS’ coverage of college basketball, the “AT&T at the Half” segment will feature a Naismith Trophy update highlighting the players in contention for the award.
“AT&T congratulates these athletes for their exceptional career performances, and we’re eager to see which player lands this esteemed award,” said Tim McGhee, executive director, AT&T corporate sponsorships. “We know college basketball fans are passionate about the game, and through our text message voting program, we’re giving them the opportunity to help determine this year’s award recipient.”
In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the Top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to the four finalists.
Other notable Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year winners include Bill Walton, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson and last year’s winner, Griffin. The Naismith Trophy is the most prestigious national award presented annually to college basketball’s player of the year.