Wednesday, March 19, 2003

West national player of year



By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

When David West decided to return to Xavier for his senior season, one of his goals was to win national player of the year honors. Tuesday, he did just that.

The United States Basketball Writers Association selected West as its player of the year after he averaged 20.3 points and 12.0 rebounds and led Xavier to an Atlantic 10 regular-season title. He will be presented with the Oscar Robertson Trophy during Final Four weekend in New Orleans, on live television between the two national semifinal games.

He downplayed the magnitude of receiving the award Tuesday, with the first round of the NCAA Tournament coming up Friday. Third-seeded Xavier plays Troy State in Nashville, Tenn.

"It's cool," West said of the award. "It's something to be proud of."

His coach said more.

"It's awesome," Thad Matta said. "...That is a great statement of coming back and staying in college. He's worked for that, and he deserves that."

West beat out Texas' T.J. Ford, Oklahoma's Hollis Price, Marquette's Dwyane Wade and Kansas' Nick Collison for the award. There are four other major awards - the Wooden, Naismith, Associated Press (Rupp) and National Association of College Basketball Coaches - still to be announced. The USBWA award is the longest-running national award, first presented to Cincinnati's Robertson in 1959.

West's win, Matta said, is "very important for the program. ... (Recruits) see David get the player of the year, they know their dream can be reached here."




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