ST. LOUIS (USBWA) The U.S. Basketball Writers Association will present the 2015 Integris Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award to Duke center Jahlil Okafor. The award · a statuette designed by nationally-recognized sculptor Shan Gray · will be presented to Okafor at the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards on Tues., April 14 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.
As the national freshman of the year, Okafor has led the Blue Devils to a 29-4 record and the No. 1 seed in the South Regional of the upcoming NCAA Tournament. He is the second consecutive winner from Duke, following Jabari Parker a year ago.
In addition, the Oscar Robertson Trophy – given to the USBWA's national player of the year – and the Henry Iba Coach of the Year Award will be presented at the banquet to be held annually the week following the NCAA Men's Final Four.
Okafor, a 6-11, 270-pound true freshman from Chicago, is the USBWA's District III Player of the Year and the first freshman to be named the Atlantic Coast Conference's Player of the Year. He leads the Blue Devils and ranks among the top five in the ACC in scoring (17.7), rebounds (9.0) and field goal percentage (.669) as he attempts to become the first freshman to lead Duke in all three categories.
Okafor has recorded 11 double-doubles and 12 20-point games this season. His 28 straight double-digit scoring games, achieved earlier this season, is a freshman conference record. Eight times this season Okafor was named ACC Rookie of the Week and the weeks of Dec. 14, 2014, and Jan. 4, Okafor was named the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week by the USBWA.
In addition to selecting Okafor as the national freshman of the year, the USBWA chose four other first-year standouts for its 2015 Freshman All-America Team. This is the third season that the USBWA has chosen a Freshman All-America Team. Okafor and Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell were also selected to the USBWA's All-America First Team. Following is the complete team, all of whom were finalists for the Wayman Tisdale Award:
The USBWA has chosen a national freshman of the year since the 1988-89 season when LSU's Chris Jackson was the recipient. The award was named for Wayman Tisdale in 2011 and other notable winners of the national freshman of the year award include Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Chris Webber.
The late Wayman Tisdale was a three-time USBWA All-American at the University of Oklahoma and in 1983 was the first freshman ever to be named a first-team All-American by the USBWA. Following a stint on the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team, he played 12 seasons in the NBA before retiring in 1997 to focus on a blossoming jazz music career. In March 2007, he was diagnosed with cancer and, following a courageous and difficult battle that included the amputation of his right leg in 2008, he passed away in May 2009.
The Integris Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award is produced by Access Sports, an Oklahoma City-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit foundation responsible for creating the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award. Access Sports produces all events associated with the award, including the annual awards dinner. Proceeds from the activities affiliated with the award are used to support various worthy charitable causes, including providing opportunities for disadvantaged youth to participate in basketball leagues, clinics, and training throughout the state. In addition, Access Sports supports the Wayman L. Tisdale Foundation which helps fund prosthetics for those who cannot afford the cost on their own and may not be covered by insurance.
Tickets and sponsorship information for the Devon Energy College Basketball Awards are available at collegebasketballawards.com or by contacting Scott Hill (405-640-0406, firstname.lastname@example.org).
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Joe Mitch at 314-795-6821.