ST. LOUIS (USBWA) – Texas freshman Kevin Durant
has been selected player of the year and Tony Bennett, in
his first year at Washington State, coach of the year by the U.S.
Basketball Writers Association.
The pair of first-year performers will be honored by the USBWA
this Friday at an awards breakfast in Atlanta, site of the NCAA
Final Four. Tickets for the breakfast, which will be held in Philips
Arena at 8 a.m., are available by calling (678) 472-3147.
a 6-9 guard/forward, will receive the Oscar Robertson Trophy
as the nation's outstanding player. He is the first freshman selected
by the USBWA to win the award and the first player from the Big
12/Big 8 Conference to win the award since its inception in 1959.
Bennett, who succeeded his father Dick as head coach at Washington
State this season, will receive the Henry Iba Coach of the Year
Bennett, 37, led Washington State to its first NCAA tournament
in 13 years this season after being picked in the preseason to finish
last in the Pacific-10 Conference. He is the first Pac-10 coach
to win the award since Oregon State's Ralph Miller in 1981.
Durant, who earlier was named player of the year by the National
Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), was the leading scorer
(25.8 ppg) and rebounder (11.1 rpg) for Texas this season and led
the Longhorns to a 25-10 record.
Durant, from Suitland, Md., was named to the USBWA all-America
first team and was also selected the top freshman in the nation
by the USBWA.
Bennett guided the Cougars to a 25-7 regular season record, a
second place finish in the Pac-10 and a No. 3 seed in the East Region
of the NCAA tournament. Washington State defeated Oral Roberts,
70-54 in the first round of the NCAA tournament before losing to
Vanderbilt in the second round, 78-74, in double overtime.
Bennett is the first coach in the history of the Pac-10 to take
his team from last place in the conference the previous season to
an NCAA tournament berth the following year. Washington State started
the season at 7-0, the first time a rookie coach at a current Pac-10
school has gone unbeaten after the first seven games of the season.
A native of Green Bay, Wis., Bennett was an assistant for one
year at WSU and served two years as associate head coach under his
father before being elevated to the heading coaching position after
Dick Bennett was a long-time and successful college coach who
took Wisconsin to the Final Four in 2000 and later retired. He came
out of retirement to coach at Washington State for three years before
handing of the program to his son at the end of the 2005-06 season.
The USBWA player of the year award is the nation's oldest and
only one named after a player. The legendary Oscar Robertson was
the USBWA's first player of the year in 1959. The USBWA renamed
its award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in 1998.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in
1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers.
Today, it is one of the most influential organizations in college
basketball. For more information on the USBWA and its awards and
programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-421-0339.
• Oscar Robertson Trophy
• Henry Iba Award
• Oscar Robertson
official site (www.thebigo.com)
• National Kidney