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Vol. 48, No. 4 • May 2011 • .pdf version
Tisdale Foundation added to list of charitable causes
By JOE MITCH / Missouri Valley Conference
The USBWA's mission to serve the interests of members and sportswriters covering college basketball also includes making annual contributions to charities to support those in need.
The association's charitable support grew by one with the addition of the Wayman Tisdale Foundation to benefit low-income individuals needing prosthetic devices and to help fund youth basketball programs in the state of Oklahoma.
The foundation is named after former Oklahoma great and NBA star Wayman Tisdale, who was fitted with a prosthesis following amputation of a leg before he died of cancer in 2009. The USBWA named its freshman of the year award this season after Tisdale.
The USBWA's other charitable cause is the National Kidney Foundation in support of Oscar Robertson, who donated a kidney several years ago to his daughter Tia, who was suffering from kidney disease at the time. The USBWA's player of the year trophy is named after "The Big O."
The USBWA makes monetary contributions to both the Tisdale and Kidney foundations.
Presentations of the Robertson Trophy and the Tisdale Award were made in front of huge – and separate – crowds this season.
The Robertson Trophy was presented at the USBWA's annual college basketball awards breakfast before an audience of more than 400 people during this year's Final Four in Houston. BYU's Jimmer Fredette was awarded the trophy as the nation's most outstanding player.
Other awards presented at the breakfast were Mike Brey of Notre Dame with the Henry Iba Coach of the Year Award and Texas coach Rick Barnes with the USBWA's "Good Guy Award," recognizing coaches who are cooperative with the news media.
The USBWA recognized Houston's Phi Slama Jama teams from the 1980s and offered former Cougars player Reid Gettys the opportunity to speak in support of former coach Guy Lewis for induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Rice sophomore forward Arsalan Kazemi received the USBWA's Most Courageous Award at the breakfast. Kazemi was recognized for having to deal with prejudice here in the U. S. as the first Iranian-born athlete to play Division I basketball.
Presentation of the Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award was before another crowd in excess of 400 people at a dinner in Oklahoma City to honor the memory of Tisdale. Ohio State's Jared Sullinger was a fitting recipient of the inaugural award as the nation's most outstanding freshman, displaying an infectious smile and a personality that many said reminded them of Tisdale.
ESPN analyst Dick Vitale was also honored at the dinner with the Humanitarian Award for his work to raise money for children with cancer.
USBWA mourns the passing of former president and Hall of Famer Bill Brill
Hundreds, including many USBWA members and several ACC basketball coaches such as Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, paid tribute to Brill at a Celebration of his Life in Raleigh-Durham. Brill died of liver and esophageal cancer on April 9 at the age of 79.
Brill was the first president I worked with when I began my association with the USBWA in 1980 as The Tipoff editor.
I was an assistant commissioner of the Metro Conference at the time, and Brill was sports columnist for the Roanoke Times & World News.
I had planned to fly on a charter to nearby Blacksburg for a Metro game between Virginia Tech and Memphis State one day in January, and Brill said he would meet me at the airport.
A heavy snowstorm caused the charter to be delayed in arriving, and without the luxury of cell phones back then, there was no way to communicate to Brill when the charter might arrive.
Eventually, some six hours late, the plane did arrive, and Brill was there to greet me. He had waited the entire time for me at the airport.
Brill was loyal to his friends and was especially dedicated to the USBWA. He always said after his induction into the USBWA Hall of Fame in 1990 that "I am damn proud to be in the Hall of Fame." He was the first of three living sports writers to be inducted.
Brill was a legend in the association and in the ACC.
He will be missed.
Armstrong wins Rising Star Award
Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News has been named the second winner of the USBWA's Rising Star Award, given to a member of the organization who is under 30 and has shown exceptional journalistic skills.
Armstrong, 27, became a staff writer for the Daily News in April 2010 and continues tocontribute to SI.com. He also has written about college basketball for the Boston Globe, the New York Times and Street and Smith's.
His most rewarding feature, on talent evaluator Tom Konchalski, won first place for magazine length features in the USBWA's most recent best-writing contest. He also took third place for a profile on Jay Wright in 2009.
Armstrong has covered recruiting extensively. His story on the relationship between Kansas guard Josh Selby and Carmelo Anthony's financial advisor, Bay Frazier, led to Selby's nine-game suspension this season. Armstrong has been a USBWA member since he covered Boston College's NCAA tournament runs for the school paper, The Heights, from 2004-06.
Dan Wolken, a national sports columnist for the Daily, won the inaugural Rising Star Award in 2010.
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