United States Basketball Writers Association March 27, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Joe Mitch
314-795-6821
Oscar Robertson Trophy, Henry Iba Award to be presented Friday in Atlanta
USBWA NAMES DURANT, BENNETT
AS PLAYER, COACH OF THE YEAR

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.

Oscar Robertson TrophyDurant, 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 Award.

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 last season.

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.

Related links:
Oscar Robertson Trophy
Henry Iba Award
Oscar Robertson official site (www.thebigo.com)
National Kidney Foundation