Nov. 7, 2011
ATLANTA -- For the second straight season, Gonzaga University junior forward Elias Harris has been named to the Naismith preseason watch list for the 2012 award to be presented by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
This year's list includes the top men's college basketball players from 34 schools around the country.
The watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2012 college basketball season.
The Naismith Trophy will be awarded at the 2012 NCAA Men's Final Four in New Orleans.
Harris averaged 12.4 ppg and 6.0 rpg while starting 33 of 34 appearances last year for the Bulldogs who advanced to the NCAA Tournament Third Round. Slowed early in the season with a sore shoulder, he busted out for 19 points against Marquette University in the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBS Classic consolation game in Kansas City, Mo. He scored 19 points in back-to-back games, including at the University of Notre Dame. Harris had three double-doubles - 13/11 against Xavier University, 14/10 against Loyola Marymount University and 15/11 at Pepperdine University.
He scored a season-high 22 points mid-way through the season at home against Oklahoma State University, one of his 23 double-digit scoring nights. In the NCAA Tournament Second Round against St. John's University he scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three assists. He came back to score 18 points and haul in eight rebounds in a loss to BYU. He averaged 16.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg and went 13-for-20 from the field for 65.0 percent in the NCAA Tournament.
Harris was named West Coast Conference honorable mention last season and was an All-WCC Preseason pick of the league's coaches for the upcoming season.
"Between conference realignments, rule changes and an incredible amount of talent at the college level this year, the 2012 Naismith Player of the Year is truly anybody's for the taking," said Eric Oberman, Atlanta Tipoff Club executive director. "We're excited to be a part of such an historic year in college basketball and look forward to crowning the best player in college basketball in April."
In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to the four finalists.
Other notable Naismith Men's College Player of the Year winners include Bill Walton, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and last year's winner, Jimmer Fredette. The Naismith Trophy is the most prestigious national award presented annually to college basketball's player of the year.