LOS ANGELES -- University of Texas junior forward Tiffany Jackson (Dallas, Texas) is among the 30 preseason candidates for the 2005-06 Women's Wooden Award presented by Applied Materials. Jackson was a 2004-05 All-America selection and a finalist for the Naismith Award last year as a sophomore.
The preseason list released on Thursday evening is composed of 30 student athletes who, based on last year's individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for college basketball's most coveted trophy. These top 30 candidates are comprised of returning players, although transfers, freshmen and other players who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for both the Midseason top 20 list and the National Ballot.
"The Committee had an incredibly difficult task in narrowing down the nation's top 30 women's players," 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."
Three of this season's preseason candidates were honored last year as members of the 2005 Women's Wooden Award All-American Team, including Wooden Award Winner Seimone Augustus (LSU), Monique Currie (Duke), and Jessica Davenport (Ohio State). In addition, six other preseason nominees were in the running for last year's Wooden Award and named to the official voting ballot, including Lindsay Bowen (Michigan State), Jackson, Cappie Pondexter (Rutgers), Khara Smith (DePaul), Candice Wiggins (Stanford), and Sophia Young (Baylor). Augustus, Pondexter and Smith all carry the distinction of being two-time Wooden Award national ballot finalists.
Nine NCAA conferences are represented, including the ACC (seven players), Big East (six players), Pac 10 (four players), SEC (four players), Big Ten (three players), Big 12 (three players), Mountain West (one player), Western Athletic (one player), and Atlantic 10 (one player). Several schools had two players nominated, including UConn (Ann Strother and Barbara Turner), LSU (Augustus and Sylvia Fowles), UCLA (Nikki Blue and Noelle Quinn), Duke (Currie and Mistie Williams), Maryland (Shay Doron and Crystal Langhorne), and North Carolina (Erlana Larkins and Ivory Latta).
Three of last year's Final Four teams boast at least one representative on the preseason team including LSU (Augustus and Fowles), Michigan State (Bowen), and Sophia Young of the 2005 National Champion Baylor Lady Bears.
In mid-January, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official voting 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 2006 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 8, 2006, and will be broadcast live on a national CBS telecast. The top five male and female finalists will be invited to Los Angeles for the Awards ceremony and will receive a contribution from the John R. Wooden Award Scholarship Fund in their name to their university's general scholarship fund.
2005-06 Wooden Award Preseason
All-American Team - Top 30 Candidates
(Based on a preseason poll. Players listed alphabetically.)
Seimone Augustus* (Sr., G, LSU)
Nikki Blue (Sr., G, UCLA)
Lindsay Bowen (Sr., G, Michigan State)
Jazz Covington (Jr., C, Louisville)
Monique Currie* (Sr., G, Duke)
Jessica Davenport* (Jr., C, Ohio State)
Shay Doron (Jr., G, Maryland)
Megan Duffy(Sr., G, Notre Dame)
Candice Dupree (Sr., F, Temple)
Emily Faurholt (Sr., F, Idaho)
Sylvia Fowles (So., C, LSU)
Katie Gearlds (Jr., G, Purdue)
Erin Grant (Sr., G, Texas Tech)
Tasha Humphrey (So., F, Georgia)
Tiffany Jackson (Jr., F, Texas)
Tamara James (Sr., G/F, Miami)
Crystal Langhorne (So., C/F, Maryland)
Erlana Larkins (So., F, North Carolina)
Ivory Latta (Jr., G, North Carolina)
Shawntinice Polk (Sr., C, Arizona)
Cappie Pondexter (Sr., G, Rutgers)
Armintie Price (Jr., G, Mississippi)
Noelle Quinn (Jr., G, UCLA)
Khara Smith (Sr., F, DePaul)
Kim Smith (Sr., F, Utah)
Ann Strother (Sr., G, Connecticut)
Barbara Turner (Sr., G/F, Connecticut)
Candice Wiggins (So., G, Stanford)
Mistie Williams (Sr., F, Duke)
Sophia Young (Sr., F, Baylor)
* Indicates player was a 2004-2005 John R. Wooden Award All-American.