Vol. 53, No. 2 January 2016 .pdf version
Pat Forde: Let's begin a healthy discussion about access
Joe Mitch: Oklahoma City gala adding women's award
David Teel: No shortage of Courage candidates
Final Four writers to be housed downtown
Sports Illustrated dominates best writing contest
Watch lists for USBWA's player of the year awards

Joe Mitch

Oklahoma City gala adding women's award

USBWA Executive Director

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The USBWA will add a new wrinkle this season to the association's annual College Basket-ball Awards dinner in Oklahoma City next April.

For the first time, the USBWA will honor the national women's player of the year named for former UCLA standout and Olympian Ann Meyers Drysdale.

This award will be in addition to the presentation of the Oscar Robertson Trophy for Player of the Year, the Wayman Tisdale Award for Freshman of the Year, the Henry Iba Award for Coach of the Year and the Tisdale Humanitarian Award.

The dinner will be held Monday, April 11, at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum just outside Oklahoma City.

The dinner has been a huge success in the past, attracting record crowds each year in excess of 500 people.

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ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla serves as emcee for the event.

The player and coach awards are selected by the USBWA, and the Humanitarian Award is selected by Access Sports, a nonprofit charitable organization in Oklahoma City. Access Sports serves as host for the dinner.

Funds raised through the gala are used to support the USBWA's scholarship program and youth basketball programs in Oklahoma that allow disadvantaged youth the opportunity to participate in leagues and training.

DEAN SMITH AWARD: The first Dean Smith Award dinner held last November that the USBWA worked in concert with the University of North Carolina to honor the memory of the late Carolina coach was a "grand slam" in the minds of many who witnessed the event.

Former Georgetown coach John Thompson was the first recipient of the award.

Nearly 600 people attended the dinner that included videos of Smith and Thompson and testimonials from North Carolina coach Roy William and former Georgetown players including Sleepy Floyd.

Proceeds from the dinner are used to support Smith's Opening Doors charity, which provides financial assistance for undergraduate students from lower-income families to attend college and for professionals in education and social work to pursue advanced degrees. Students supported by the fund exemplify Smith's qualities of leadership, service and excellence.

The award is presented annually to an individual in college basketball who embodies the spirit and values represented by Smith.

Candidates for the award include both coaches and non-coaches, male and female, from all divisions of the NCAA and NAIA.

A site for next year's dinner has not been determined.

NAISMITH BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME: The Hall of Fame has renewed its sponsorship with the USBWA for another three years.

The Hall of Fame's sponsorship is the second-longest in USBWA history behind ESPN, dating back some two decades.

The Hall of Fame is a participating sponsor of the USBWA's awards luncheon at the Final Four and receives an ad in the USBWA directory. ESPN is the title sponsor of the luncheon and has a full-page color ad on the back cover of the directory.

The Hall of Fame initiated a unique television show on ESPN last year that featured naming position awards in college after NBA greats point guard for Bob Cousy, shooting guard for Jerry West, small forward for Julius Erving, power forward for Moses Malone and the center position for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Sculptures were made in the likeness of each NBA player and presented to the award winners.

Lodge Notes: Chris Dufresne will end nearly 40 years at the Los Angeles Times following the acceptance of his buyout from the newspaper in mid-November.

Dufresne began work on the Times' loading docks in 1976 and, following a brief stint at the Fullerton Tribune, joined the editorial staff in 1981 and was the Times' national college basketball writer since 1995. He is a multiple national award winner and was named 2011 California Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

According to his Facebook page, Dufresne will continue writing in some capacity. Dufresne wrote: "Almost final LAT count: 6,000-ish bylines, 6 million words. All worth it."

Bob Markus, a former sports reporter and columnist for 37 years at the Chicago Tribune, died in mid-October. The three-time Illinois sportswriter of the year was 81. Markus covered college basketball during the 1980s.

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