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Zags' Heather Bowman and Courtney Vandersloot Named to Wooden Award Watch List

Aug. 20, 2009

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Gonzaga University women's basketball teammates Heather Bowman and Courtney Vandersloot were named to the preseason Women's Wooden Award All-American Team and Player of the Year trophy announced by Richard "Duke" Llewellyn, Wooden Award Chairman and founder Thursday.

This list is composed of 31 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 list contains 31 players, not the traditional 30, because the playing status of North Carolina's Jessica Breland is uncertain due to a possible medical redshirt year. Transfers, freshmen and 2009 medical redshirts are not eligible for the preseason list.

Gonzaga is one of only four schools with two preseason candidates. The others are the University of Connecticut (Maya Moore, Tina Charles), Ohio State University (Jantel Lavender, Samantha Prahalis) and Stanford University (Jayne Appel, Jeanette Pohlen).

Bowman, a senior, becomes the first Bulldog to be nominated for the award in back-to-back seasons as she also made the list last season. Vandersloot is the second-ever Zag player to make the list.

Bowman started and played in 33 games a year ago. She averaged a team-best 19.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. She shot an impressive 51.1 percent from the field, going 237-for-464 and hit 81.1 percent of her free throws, sinking 166-of-203.

The Spokane native has 1,666 career points to rank fourth on the all-time Bulldog list and is just 346 points shy of becoming the Zag all-time leader scorer and 288 points shy of becoming the all-time leading scorer in West Coast Conference history.

Bowman was named to the All-West Coast Conference Team and the WCC All-Tournament squad a year ago.

Vandersloot, who early this summer was also named to the preseason "Wade Watch" list for The State Farm Wade Trophy Division I Player of the Year, averaged 16.4 points and 7.5 assists per game, third most in the nation, as a sophomore. She hit a team high 35 3-pointers, and also averaged 4.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game a year ago.

The Kent, Wash., native has passed out 430 assists in her two years with the Zags, second most in school history. Last season she dished out a Bulldog single-season record 239 assists.

Vandersloot is the reigning West Coast Conference Player of the Year and Tournament Most Valuable Player. She also was a State Farm Coaches' and Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention honoree and a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award.

2009 John R. Wooden Award winner Moore returns for her junior season with the Huskies. She led Connecticut to an undefeated season and the NCAA title in 2009, averaging 21.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.3 blocks. The 6-0 forward was the Big East Player of the Year and an Academic All-American. She recorded 20-plus points 15 times and registered 16 double-doubles as a sophomore. In addition, six more 2009 National Ballot honorees were named as 2009-10 preseason candidates, including Appel, Alysha Clark (Middle Tennessee), Lavender, Ta`Shia Phillips (Xavier), Andrea Riley (Oklahoma State), and Monica Wright (Virginia).

The breadth of talent across the country is shown by the record number of NCAA Division I conferences (12) highlighted on the list. The Big 10 conference has five candidates, followed by the Big East, ACC, Big 12 and Pac-10 with four apiece, the SEC (3), West Coast (2), America East (1), Atlantic 10 (1), CAA (1), Mountain West (1) and Sun Belt (1).

In late December, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 list, followed in March by the National Ballot, consisting of approximately 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Women's Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round during the NCAA Tournament.

The 34th 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, will take place the weekend of April 9-11, 2010.

About the John R. Wooden Award
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. The women's category was added in 2004. The Award 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), Alana Beard (`06) and Blake Griffin (`09). Candace Parker 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. 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 a day-long basketball tournament. The tournament brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All-Americans in a setting that exemplifies the spirit of competition.

Follow the candidates and get the latest news throughout the season by logging on to www.WoodenAward.com. For more information on the John R. Wooden Award, please contact the Wooden Award staff at 213-630-5206 or email at woodenaward@laac.net.