Connecticuts Maya Moore is already a member of an elite group -- players who have won the Naismith trophy both in high School and college. The junior forward headlines a list of players announced today as candidates for the most prestigious award in basketball, and if, as many predict, she takes the award again this season, she will become the first player ever to win two Naismith trophies high school and two more in college.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club, founded in 1956 and committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting, has presented the Naismith Trophy annually since UCLAs Lew Alcindor first won the award in 1969. Old Dominions Anne Donovan won the inaugural Womens Naismith Trophy in 1983. The Naismith Award has become an emblem of excellence for the game, recognizing the Mens and Womens College Basketball Player of the Year, Mens and Womens College Basketball Coach of the Year, as well as awards for outstanding achievement in high school basketball, officiating, and overall contribution to the game.
Five players besides Moore have won both a high school and college Naismith Trophy; all have gone on to distinguished careers in the pros. The first was Lisa Leslie who won the high school award at Morningside High in Inglewood, California, in 1990 and the collegiate edition at USC in 1994. Chamique Holdsclaw followed in her footsteps soon thereafter, winning the high school Naismith while at Christ the King in Middle Village, New York, in 1995 and taking home the college hardware twice, in 1998 and 1999, while at Tennessee.
Two other women who achieved the dual-level feat were also Lady Vols. Tamika Catchings won in 1997 while playing for Duncanville High School, Duncanville, Texas, then again in 2000 while at Tennessee. Candace Parker took the honor twice, in 2003 and 2004, when she played at Naperville High School, and once in college in 2008 as a senior at Tennessee. In between, Diana Taurasi won the high school version of the award once in 2000 while at Don Lugo High in Chino, California, and twice, in both 2003 and 2004, while at Connecticut.
But no one has yet won the award twice in high school and twice more in college. Moore, who won the Naismith National High School Girls Player of the Year award in both 2006 and 2007 at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, Ga., and claimed the college award last March as a sophomore at Connecticut, is poised to do so if she remains healthy and maintains the near-artistic level of performance with which she has begun this season.
But Moore faces some stiff competition if she is to pull off the first-ever Naismith "double-double" when the 2009-10 Naismith Trophy, presented by AT&T, is awarded at the 2010 NCAA Womens Final Four in San Antonio, Texas in March. Moore is joined on the list by teammates Tina Charles and Tiffany Hayes and surrounded by two score of top quality aspirants ranging from veteran standouts Jayne Appel, Alysha Clark, Jantel Lavendar, Alexis Gray-Lawson, Allison Hightower, Deidre McNaughton and Courtney Vandersloot to freshmen prodigies Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins and Brittney Griner, and 27 other collegiate stars. The watch list is compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Clubs Board of Selectors, which bases its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2009-10 college basketball season.
The competition this year seems to be at an all-time high, and there are numerous candidates who have the opportunity to showcase their abilities throughout the season, said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. Once the games start it will become clearer who emerges as the leading candidate to claim the Naismith Trophy, the most prestigious award in college basketball.
Fans will have a voice in deciding whether Moore repeats as the Naismith Player of the Year. Since 2005, fan voting via text messaging has accounted for an unprecedented 25 percent of the final results more than any other national college basketball award.
AT&T is proud to help recognize these outstanding athletes and their impressive achievements with this highly-regarded award, said Tim McGhee, executive director, AT&T corporate sponsorships. Through AT&Ts text message voting program, were inviting college basketball fans some of the most passionate fans in sports to make their opinion count in determining this years award recipient.
In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Clubs 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.
Read on for the rest of the 2009-10 Naismith watch list, announced today by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club: