Aug. 16, 2004
Los Angeles, CA - UCLA's Nikki Blue and Noelle Quinn have been named to the Women's Wooden Award Pre-Season All-America Team. Thirty student-athletes were selected following a national poll conducted by the National Advisory Board based on last year's individual performance and team records. These candidates are comprised of returning players, although transfers and freshmen as well as other players who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for the Midseason Top 20 List and the National Ballot. Blue had another standout season in 2003-04, earning first-team All-Pac-10 honors and Pac-10 All-Tournament acclaim for the second year in a row. She finished the season ranked amongst the conference leaders in several categories - second in steals (2.97), third in assists (4.93), seventh in scoring (15.2) and 12th in rebounding (5.6). She ranked amongst the Top 30 in the nation in steals per game, and her season total of 148 assists tied for seventh on UCLA's all-time list. Blue ended the season by scoring an NCAA-tournament school-best 33 points against Minnesota. Quinn sparkled in her freshman season of 2003-04, earning Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-America acclaim. She averaged a team-best 15.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game and ranked in the Top 10 in the Pac-10 Conference in scoring (sixth), rebounding (fifth), assists (ninth), steals (fourth), assist/turnover ratio (seventh), defensive rebounds (fourth) and offensive rebounds (ninth). Quinn set a school freshman record with six-straight 20-point games and recorded UCLA's first triple-double in eight years, registering 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at Cal on Feb. 19. She led the team with eight double-doubles and had 24 double-digit scoring games, including 21 consecutive to end the season. "The Committee had an incredibly difficult task in narrowing down the nation's top 30 women's players. In fact, 67 players received at least one vote, which truly illustrates the parity of women's college basketball today," said Mike Solum, Director of the Wooden Award. "This list represents the elite of college basketball, and our entire team at the Wooden Award is excited to see the best players in the nation prove their case as basketball's player of the year." Nine NCAA conferences are represented, including the Big 12 (6 players), SEC (5 players), Big East (4 players), Pac 10 (4 players), Big 10 (3 players), ACC (2 players), Conference USA (2 players), Big West (2 players), Mountain West (1 player), and Big South (1 player). Each of last year's Final Four teams boasts at least one representative on the Preseason team including Connecticut (Barbara Turner and Ann Strother ), LSU (Seimone Augustus and Temeka Johnson), Minnesota (Janel McCarville), and Tennessee (Shyra Ely and Loree Moore). Additionally, Texas (Jamie Carey, Tiffany Jackson and Heather Schreiber) and UCLA (Blue and Quinn) stand out with multiple player nominations. Five of this season's Preseason candidates were mentioned in the running for last year's Wooden Award and were named to the official voting ballot, including Seimone Augustus (LSU), Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers), Khara Smith (Depaul), Heather Schreiber (Texas) and Kendra Wecker (Kansas State). Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation's best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his/her university that he/she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Michael Jordan ('84), Larry Bird ('79), Tim Duncan ('97) and last year's inaugural women's recipient, Alana Beard ('04). In mid-January, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official voting ballot, consisting of the top 10-15 players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The 2005 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men's and Women's Wooden Award, the Wooden Award All-American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 9, 2005 and will be broadcast live on a national CBS telecast. The top five male and female finalists will receive a contribution from the John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund in their name to their university's general scholarship fund. The Wooden Award scholarship fund was established in 2002 by Applied Materials and corporate partners through the California Community Foundation (CCF) to honor Coach Wooden's dedication as an educator and mentor. The Scholarship Fund distributed $15,000 last year to each university represented by a men's and women's Wooden Award All-American Team finalist (for a total of $150,000). Additional donations to Applied Materials' John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund can be made by contacting the scholarship fund through the CCF (www.calfund.org).