As we head into final four weekend, they’re starting to hand out the end of season awards. The US Basketball Writer’s Association split their player of the year award between JJ Redick and Adam Morrison, while the AP gave it to Redick, with Morrison finishing second. I suspect the Naismith and Wooden awards may split as well, and that would be appropriate. They were clearly the two best players throughout the year and they both deserve it.
The AP named Roy Williams Coach ot the Year and that is well deserved as well. No one imagined that after losing their top 7 scorers, Carolina would finish the year ranked in the top ten and have the season they had. A great coaching job by a great coach. And look out for Carolina next year. Tyler Hansbrough just announced he is returning for his sophomore season, along with all the other great freshmen from last year, and they add a tremendous recruiting class with Brendan Wright, Wayne Ellington, and Ty Lawson. That’s your preseason #1 team for next year, almost certainly.
I watched the McDonald’s all-american game a couple nights ago. There’s some scary talent coming in to college basketball next year, led by Greg Oden. Oden is a man among boys, a 7 footer with incredible agility, great hands and a wingspan that goes from here to Istanbul. He’s going to Ohio State along with his teammate, Mike Conley, and Daequan Cook, an incredible shooter at 6’5″. But Oden is the star of the class. He’s a rare player, a once every ten years big man who will dominate in college and in the NBA. Buckeye fans, enjoy him for the one year you’ll have him.
Duke had one standout player in the game, Gerald Henderson. He looked incredible on both ends of the floor and had scouts calling him the most complete player in the game. He’s 6’5″ and already has an NBA body. He’s got huge hops, but doesn’t rely on his athleticism to be a great player. He really understands the game and thinks the game well. He should be an instant starter at Duke at the 3. Lance Thomas also played in the game and Duke is waiting to hear whether he’ll play for them. He’s down to Rutgers and Duke, the same two teams that Jason Williams chose between. Hopefully he’ll make the same choice. Duke could really use a player like him, especially on defense. At 6’8″ and 200 pounds, he’s very quick, athletic and scrappy.
Georgia Tech had two impressive players in the game, Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenten. Stanford had a pair of 7-foot twins, Brook and Robin Lopez. And Texas had a very impressive big man named Kevin Durant. But perhaps the most intriguing player in the game was Chase Budinger, who is headed to Arizona. This guy is going to become an instant star. Picture a southern California surfer dude with curly reddish blonde hair and a 42 inch vertical leap. This guy is a freak athlete and is a world class volleyball player in addition to his basketball playing. Sportscenter is gonna love this kid, who won the McDonald’s AA game slam dunk contest.
But before we get to next year, we’ve still got a championship to award this year. It’s final four weekend, so you know where I’ll be – in front of my TV watching the games. I’m predicting an all SEC final, LSU against Florida, but I’m certainly not gonna count out George Mason. I give them a very good chance to beat Florida because, historically, Donovan teams tend to crumble when they’re on top. We’ll see if this one does as well.