Vol. 57, No. 1 November 2019 .pdf version
INSIDE THIS ISSUE ...
Mike Waters: Open locker rooms good for legends
Malcolm Moran: Ethics in the era of legalized gambling
First O'Connell Award goes to Terry Hutchens
Yahoo team a back-to-back best-writing contest winner
McKillop is worthy Dean Smith Award winner
Catchings lends name to freshman award
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Yahoo team a back-to-back best-writing contest winner

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Yahoo's investigative team of Pete Thamel, Pat Forde and Dan Wetzel was a first-place winner for the second year in row in the USBWA's best-writing contest.

Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer and Chris Heady of the Omaha World-Herald were first-place winners and among six contestants to place in two categories. Dan Greene of Sports Illustrated and David Woods of the Indianapolis Star also were first-place winners.

Thamel, Forde and Wetzel continued to lead the way in investigative/enterprise category for a series of stories about the FBI's investigation in college basketball, and in particular one that included a "strong-ass" lead:

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Best Writing Contest winners

"A 2017 phone conversation intercepted by the FBI between LSU coach Will Wade and basketball middleman Christian Dawkins features Wade speaking freely about a 'strong-ass offer' he made in the recruitment of a prospect, Yahoo Sports has learned."

DeCock took fourth place for moderate-length features and won in spot news/game coverage for a story about Zion Williamson's damaged sneaker that spoke volumes about college basketball's relationship with shoe companies. DeCock wrote:

"A delegation from Nike flew in Thursday evening to meet with Duke officials, underscoring how the role Zion Williamson's shoe failure played in his knee injury has become a billion-dollar concern."

Heady took fourth in spot news/game coverage and first in column writing for his memories of his first season as Nebraska's beat writer. Heady recalled when Huskers coach Tim Miles asked him if his breath smelled. He wrote:

"That is what covering this Nebraska basketball season was like. It made no sense. It entertained, it confused, it confounded, challenged, concerned and compelled."

Greene won the magazine-length features category by also writing about shoes those worn by Memphis coach Penny Hardaway.

"The shoe is cool," Greene wrote. "This, since being hired as the coach of Memphis in March, has been a big part of Hardaway's job: being cool. Or, more specifically, making Memphis basketball cool, in a way it hasn't been for some time."

Woods won the moderate-length features category for his story on the life-and-death struggle faced by Butler's Sean McDermott. Woods wrote:

"Sean McDermott wanted to live. Not just live. Live like he once did. Five years later, he is doing so. It has taken that long to recover from a staph infection that left him unable to walk, that could have killed him."

Other multiple winners included John Feinstein of the Washington Post (second in spot news/game coverage; third in moderate-length features); Patrick Borzi of the New York Times (second in moderate-length features; fourth in column writing); John Akers of Basketball Times (third in enterprise/investigative writing; fifth in column writing); and freelancer Mitchell Northam (fourth in magazine-length features; fifth in spot news/game coverage).

2019 USBWA BEST WRITING CONTEST WINNERS

COLUMN
1. Chris Heady, Omaha World-Herald: Memories from a Nebraska basketball writer's first season on the job.
2. Paul Woody, Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia's Kyle Guy made three free throws, under unbelievable pressure, to send his team to the national title game.
3. Patrick Borzi, MinnPost.com: Is it still OK for coaches to scream at kids? When Michigan State coach Tom Izzo went after one of his players publically, it became a national conversation.
4. David Teel, Newport News Daily Press: Virginia's run to the national championship was the direct opposite of chill. Their journey was one fo terror, chest pains and considerable bourbon consumption.
5. John Akers, Basketball Times: His ratings performance index lasted four decades, and came under waves of criticism. Jim Van Valkenburg only intended to get the discussion started.

GAME STORY/SPOT NEWS
1. Luke DeCock, Raleigh News & Observer: If the shoe splits, repair it. Zion Williamson's sneaker came apart. And it became an event that revealed how money, basketball, colleges and sneakers are all tied together.
2. John Feinstein, Washington Post: How extraordinary was Virginia's title run?
3. Jesse Newell, The Kansas City Star: Kansas' streak of 14-straight Big 12 championships came to an end in an unlikely way.
4. Chris Heady, Omaha World-Herald: Nebraska hits rock bottom.
5. Mitchell Northam, NCAA.com: Freshman Nalyssa Smith comes off the bench to help Baylor win the championship.

ENTERPRISE
1. Pete Thamel, Pat Forde and Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports: Wiretap reveals LSU coach Will Wade discussed recruiting offer with hoops scandal middleman. Selections from extensive coverage of the federal investigations
that impacted college athletics.
2. Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer-Press: View from Final Four's worst seats. An interesting look at the fans who choose the nosebleed seats.
3. John Akers, Basketball Times: A look at the 1968-69 season. Was the season as special as we remember?
4. Andrea Adelson, ESPN.com: From coaching women to coaching men. A women's coach makes the rare move to the men's game.
5. Steve Wiseman, Raleigh News & Observer: Marvin Bagley III zigzagged his way to Duke ... A look at the complex relationships that can cloud the college game.

MODERATE LENGTH FEATURE
1. David Woods, Indianapolis Star: Five years after a staph infection threatened his life, Butler's Sean McDermott continues his long road back with his mother, who faced her own challenge.
2. Patrick Borzi, The New York Times: Marquette's Markus Howard changes the picture of mental health counseling.
3. John Feinstein, Washington Post: Sixteen years after he retired, Jim Phelan is 90 and still living in rural Maryland and the Basketball Hall of Fame still hasn't come calling.
4. Luke DeCock, Raleigh News & Observer: Inside the Zion Williamson tornado.
5. Mike DeCourcy, The Sporting News: Duke owes Zion Williamson. Williamson also owes Duke.

MAGAZINE LENGTH FEATURE
1. Dan Greene, Sports Illustrated: It had to be Penny. Penny Hardaway became the head coach at University of Memphis and the fan base went wild. What happens next? The story of Hardaway and Memphis is complicated. This story unties the knot.
2. Mike Waters, Syracuse Post-Standard: Syracuse's Howard Washington reveals a chilling story. The writer is here, but makes the wise choice to remain offstage.
3. Rob Dauster, NBC Sports: It's OK to not be OK. The under-reported subject of mental wellness in college basketball.
4. Mitchell Northam, SB Nation/Mid-Major Madness: Campbell is one of the most fun shows ... What's happening at Campbell, where the Camels, led by Chris Clemons, are fun to watch.
5. Ryan McGee, ESPN.com: Requiem for the Old School ACC tournament. A warm look back to the days when classes were stopped to watch the ACC tournament.

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