Vol. 43, No. 2 January 2006 .pdf version
Tony Barnhart: Big O a big plus
Andy Katz: Courage candidates aplenty
Joe Mitch: Indy breakfast a highlight
Dick Jerardi: Press row model in Philly
Tech tips: Time to clean house

Andy Katz

Plenty of Courageous candidates to choose from

By ANDY KATZ / ESPN
andy.d.katz@espn.com

The definition of courageous is chilling: It's the ability to face and deal with danger or fear without flinching.

That's what Jeremie Davis and Wayne Williams did when the pair of University of New Orleans newcomers was stuck in their university dorm room as the flood waters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina began to flow through the doors and windows.

The two junior college transfers stayed in their room for a few nights. Williams' girlfriend and infant son were with them as well. For three days, they stayed in the room, waiting to be rescued. When they were rescued, on consecutive days the Williams group by air Davis by boat they ended up on I-10. They spent three horrific days and nights on the highway, seeing death, hearing the cries and screams of fear and hunger.

When they got out on buses, one to Houston, the other to northern Louisiana, they wondered if they should ever return to the city, let alone to the team that had been relocated to Tyler, Texas. They decided to join the team and make a go of sticking it out with the Privateers. They were due to return to New Orleans with the rest of the team and coaches. But they won't ever be the same, as they harbor the emotions of that fateful week.

Williams and Davis deserve consideration for the USBWA Most Courageous Award, for persevering a natural disaster and still being able to return to college basketball.

They aren't alone in dealing with tragedy, or trying to overcome an illness and courageously surviving to return to the game.

John Akers, editor of Basketball Times, offered up one of the most courageous candidates in Tennessee Tech coach Mike Sutton in last month's issue. Sutton is battling a debilitating disease, trying to come back from Guillere-Barre syndrome that left him paralyzed for months. Sutton is still the head coach, even if it's in absentia at times.

I still remember Sutton sitting behind me in press row at the Kentucky-Michigan State Elite Eight game in Austin last March. He was watching the Wildcats after serving as an assistant to Tubby Smith. He was engaging, entertaining and enjoying life. It was only a few weeks later at the Portsmouth Invitational (Va.) that he became increasingly sick.

His story is still developing. He deals with courage on a daily basis, struggling to get back to his own normalcy.

There are plenty of others that deserve mention like Darren Cooper of Portland, who lost his father, an uncle and grandmother to cancer all within a short time. His mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. That's a lot to handle for a any person, let alone a college player who continues to play for Portland.

Will Kimble at UTEP is playing after being diagnosed with a heart condition, something that kept him out of the 2002-03 season.

Virginia Tech's Allen Calloway is battling cancer. He's attempting to play this season. Through Dec. 10, Calloway had played in two games as the senior forward is trying to stave off the disease while also making a contribution to the Hokies.

Look, there is no single winner here. All of these people, and there are others out there, are courageous in what they have gone through or are still dealing with this season. Consider these people and any others that you want to suggest as we forge ahead into the next year. This is a cherished award for this organization. It has purpose and it is always our most treasured honor to bestow at the Final Four.

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