Nov. 10, 2008
LOS ANGELES - Gonzaga University senior Jeremy Pargo and Saint Mary's College sophomore Patrick Mills were selected to the 2009 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list, as announced by Richard "Duke" Llewellyn, Wooden Award Chairman and founder. The list is composed of 50 student athletes who, based on last year's individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for college basketball's most prestigious honor.
The WCC was one of 10 conferences to land multiple players on the Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list.
Pargo and Mills are eligible for the John R. Wooden All-American Team and Player of the Year Trophy. The selection of Mills to the preseason Wooden Player of the Year Award list marks the first time that a Saint Mary's men's basketball player has made the list, while this marks Pargo's second straight year on the list.
Pargo is the ninth Bulldog comprising 10 Pre-Season Top 50 nominations since 2000 when Matt Santangelo became Gonzaga's inaugural nominee and was named to the Mid-Season Top 30. Casey Calvary became a Top 10 All-American in 2001, Dan Dickau became the Bulldogs first Top 5 All-American in 2002, Cory Violette was nominated in 2003 and 2004, Ronny Turiaf was nominated in 2004 and 2005 and Adam Morrison was a Top 5 All-American in 2006 and runner-up for Player of the Year honors to J.J. Reddick of Duke University.
Pargo became the eighth straight Bulldog to win West Coast Conference Player of the Year honors last season, averaging 12.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg and 6.0 assists/game in leading the Bulldogs to the WCC regular-season title and a 10th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
He entered his name into the NBA Draft but withdrew at the June deadline to retain his senior year of eligibility and return to Gonzaga, where the Bulldogs are ranked 10th in the Associated Press and 11th in the USA Today/ESPN pre-season rankings.
After leading the Gaels to a 25-7 overall record and a first round appearance in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, Mills competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics for his home country of Australia.
In his debut season at Saint Mary's, Mills averaged a team-leading 14.8 points per game, while leading the team in assists (111) and steals (57). He set a SMC freshman record, scoring 472 points, and he set a freshman record with a 37-point performance against No. 11 Oregon. The 37-point outburst ranks as the sixth best single game scoring performance in school history. With Mills at the point, the Gaels were ranked in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll for eight weeks and the Associated Press Poll six weeks. Both were school records for Saint Mary's.
The summer between his freshman and sophomore years was spent competing for Australia in the Beijing Olympic Games. While playing for his home country, he scored a team-high 14.2 points per game, in six games of the tournament. He had two 20-point games, scoring 22 points against Argentina, which competed with five NBA players, then scored 20 points against the United States in the quarterfinals on the medal round.
Prior to the start of the 2008-09 season, Mills has garnered All-American recognition by a number of publications. After being selected to the All-WCC Preseason Team, Mills was a Preseason All-American selection by CollegeInsider.com, a Third Team Preseason All-American by the Sporting News, and an Honorable Mention All-American selection by CollegeHoops.net. Additionally, CollegeHoops.net named Mills a First Team Mid-Major All-American.
Hansbrough led the ACC in scoring at 22.6 ppg as a junior, while shooting an impressive 54% from the field and 80.6% from the free throw line. Known to Tarheel fans as "Psycho T," Hansbrough was the 2008 Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the year in leading UNC to a school-record 36 wins and its 17th Final Four. In putting Davidson front and center on the national scene, Curry averaged more than 25 ppg as a junior and set an NCAA record with 162 three-pointers on the season. Harangody averaged better than 20 points and 10 rebounds a year ago for the Irish.
Returning players from last year's Wooden Award ballot, in addition to the three All-Americans above, include UCLA's Darren Collison, Connecticut's A.J. Price, Tennessee's Tyler Smith and Robbie Hummel of Purdue.
Transfers, freshmen and medical redshirts are not eligible for the preseason list. These players and others who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for January's Midseason list and the official voting ballot released in March.
North Carolina (Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson) had three players on the list. Six schools placed two players on the list: Louisville (Earl Clark, Terrence Williams), Duke (Kyle Singler, Gerald Henderson), Marquette (Jerel McNeal, Dominic James), Pittsburgh (DeJuan Blair, Sam Young), Connecticut (Price, Hasheem Thabeet), and Texas (Damion James, A.J. Abrams).
In all, 42 schools and 13 conferences are represented on the Wooden Award Pre-Season list. Leading the way is the Big East (12), followed by the ACC (8), Pac-10 (5), SEC (5), Big 12 (5), Atlantic-10 (2), Big Ten (3), Conference USA (3), Mountain West (2), West Coast (2), Colonial Athletic Association (1), Ohio Valley (1), and the Southern Conference (1).
In mid-January, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Mid-season Top 30 list, followed in March by the National Ballot, consisting of approximately 20 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round during the NCAA Tournament.
The 33rd annual Wooden Award ceremony, which will include the announcement of the Men's and Women's Wooden Award, and the presentation of the Wooden Award All-American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award to Rick Barnes from The University of Texas, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club in April.
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 or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird ('79), Michael Jordan ('84), Tim Duncan ('97), and 2007 recipient Kevin Durant of Texas. Candace Parker of Tennessee won the Women's Wooden Award in 2007 and 2008.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities' general scholarship fund in the names of the All-American recipients as well as sent over 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the awards name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All-Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on the Friday prior to the John R. Wooden Award Ceremony.
2008-2009 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List
Player Ht. Pos. Yr. School A.J. Abrams 5-11 G Sr. TexasWink Adams 6-0 G Sr. UNLVDeJuan Blair 6-7 F So. PittsburghJon Brockman 6-7 F Sr. WashingtonDerrick Brown 6-8 F Jr. XavierChase Budinger 6-7 F Jr. ArizonaNick Calathes 6-6 G/F So. FloridaDionte Christmas 6-5 G Sr. TempleEarl Clark 6-9 G/F Jr. LouisvilleSherron Collins 5-11 G Jr. KansasDarren Collison 6-0 G Sr. UCLALee Cummard 6-7 G Sr. BYUStephen Curry* 6-3 G Jr. DavidsonDevan Downey 5-9 G Jr. South CarolinaRobert Dozier 6-9 F Sr. MemphisWayne Ellington 6-4 G Jr. North CarolinaJonny Flynn 6-0 G So. SyracuseTaj Gibson 6-9 F Jr. USCBlake Griffin 6-10 F So. OklahomaTyler Hansbrough!*^ 6-9 F Sr. North CarolinaLuke Harangody* 6-8 F Jr. Notre DameJames Harden 6-4 G So. Arizona StateGerald Henderson 6-4 G/F Jr. DukeLester Hudson 6-2 G Sr. Tennessee MartinRobbie Hummel 6-8 F So. PurdueStefon Jackson 6-5 G Sr. UTEPDominic James 5-11 G Sr. MarquetteDamion James 6-7 G/F Jr. TexasCurtis Jerrells 6-1 G Sr. BaylorJames Johnson 6-8 F So. Wake ForestMarcus Landry 6-7 F Sr. WisconsinTy Lawson 5-11 G Jr. North CarolinaEric Maynor 6-2 G Sr. VCUJack McClinton 6-1 G Sr. University of MiamiJerel McNeal 6-3 G Sr. MarquettePatrick Mills 6-0 G So. Saint Mary'sRaymar Morgan 6-7 F Jr. Michigan StateA.J. Ogilvy 6-11 C So. VanderbiltJeremy Pargo 6-2 G Sr. GonzagaPatrick Patterson 6-8 F So. KentuckyA.J. Price 6-2 G Sr. ConnecticutScottie Reynolds 6-2 G Jr. VillanovaTyrese Rice 6-1 G Sr. Boston CollegeKyle Singler 6-8 F So. DukeTyler Smith 6-7 F Jr. TennesseeDaJuan Summers 6-8 F Jr. GeorgetownHasheem Thabeet 7-3 C Jr. ConnecticutRobert Vaden 6-5 G/F Sr. UABTerrence Williams 6-6 F Sr. LouisvilleSam Young 6-6 F Jr. Pittsburgh!2008 John R. Wooden Award Winner