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Zags' Vandersloot Named To John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 20

Jan. 13, 2010

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Gonzaga University junior point guard Courtney Vandersloot has been named one of the top 20 candidates for the John R. Wooden Award, the nation's most coveted college basketball honor.

The midseason Top 20 were announced today by the Los Angeles Athletic Club's John R. Wooden Award Committee. Because of a tie in the voting, 21 players were named rather than the tradition 20. Composed of the players who will compete for this season's player of the year award, the midseason list is based on individual excellence and team record during the first half of the season.

Vandersloot becomes the inaugural Zag in women's basketball history to make the midseason list.

The Kent, Wash., native leads the nation in assists per contest at 9.3 and is fourth in steals per game with 3.9 takeaways. She also is averaging 11.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and has a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. Gonzaga is off to a 12-4 start, which includes winning its opening West Coast Conference game of the season this past Saturday.

Among the Midseason Top 20 candidates are returning Wooden Award winner Maya Moore of No. 1-ranked Connecticut (19.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and her teammate, center Tina Charles (17.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg). No. 2 Stanford also had two players selected, center Jayne Appel and forward Kayla Pedersen. Four 2009 National Ballot honorees were named as 2009-10 midseason candidates: Appel, Alysha Clark (Middle Tennessee), Jantel Lavender (Ohio State), and Monica Wright (Virginia).

Other intriguing candidates who were not chosen to the preseason list include James Madison's Dawn Evans, the nation's leading scorer at 26.4 points per game; Baylor's 6-8 freshmen Brittney Griner; and Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, who made headlines last year when she gave up her basketball career at Connecticut to play volleyball closer to home. In her first collegiate hoops season, she is ranked No. 4 in the country in scoring (24.7), and is averaging 9.6 rebounds as well.

The Big East leads the Midseason Top 20 with four players selected. The CAA and ACC each had three players selected, and the Pac-10, Big 10, SEC and Big 12 had two players each. The Sun Belt, Atlantic 10 and West Coast Conferences had one player chosen. Overall, 48 different players from 36 schools received votes.

More than 300 voters, comprised of sports media members and college basketball experts from across the nation, will then cast their votes to determine both the five-member All American Team and Player of the Year. In late March, the 10-player Wooden Award All American Team will be announced.

Just as players who are not on the preseason list are eligible for the Midseason Top 20, players who do not make the Midseason list are still eligible for the national ballot, which will be selected in March and will consist of approximately 20 players, chosen by the Wooden Award National Advisory Board Committee. Players selected to the national ballot will have to be certified by their university as making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA.

More than 300 voters, comprised of sports media members and college basketball experts from across the nation, will then cast their votes to determine both the five-member All American Team and Player of the Year. In late March, the 10-player Wooden Award All American Team will be announced.

About the John R. Wooden Award

The 34th annual Wooden Award ceremony, which will include the announcement of the Men's and Women's Wooden Award winner, and the presentation of the Legends of Coaching Award to Florida's Billy Donovan, will take place on April 9, 2010.

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 Blake Griffin ('09). Candace Parker (Tennessee) won the Women's Wooden Award in 2007 and 2008, and Maya Moore (Connecticut) won last year.

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. The Award has also sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the Award's 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 all day tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All-Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club during the John R. Wooden Award weekend.