Nov. 9, 2004
PARK RIDGE, IL - Three Big Ten student-athletes have been selected among the top 50 women's basketball players as preseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy presented by Cingular Wireless, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Tuesday, November 9. Minnesota's Janel McCarville, Penn State's Tanisha Wright and Purdue's Katie Gearlds were named to the watch list for what is considered the most prestigious national award presented annually to the men's and women's players of the year.
The Top 50 list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The board based its preseason criteria on player performances from last season.
In January, the Board of Selectors will narrow its preseason list to the Top 30 players in the nation. Those players, and others who distinguish themselves throughout the season, will be eligible for the final ballot in March.
The preseason has been quite impressive for the Big Ten trio, as McCarville and Wright have both been named Wade Trophy National Player of the Year Candidates and Preseason Wooden Award All-Americans. The pair was also tabbed Preseason All-Big Ten by the coaches and media, while McCarville was honored by both panels as Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year. Gearlds, the defending Conference Freshman of the Year as selected by the coaches, has also earned another national accolade of the preseason. Earlier this fall, the Purdue sophomore was also selected as a Wooden Award All-American.
McCarville, the lone senior to return from a Golden Gopher squad that made its first ever trip to the Final Four last season, averaged 16.1 points and 10.8 rebounds and earned several postseason awards including a spot on the All-Final Four Team. A returning WBCA Kodak All-American, the 6-2 center will have to wait to begin her final season as she broke the third metacarpal bone of her left hand in practice on October 28 and will miss at least two more weeks of action.
Last season, Wright was selected First Team All-Big Ten by the coaches and became the only player in Conference history to capture two Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors, as she successfully repeated as the League honoree in 2003-04. The 5-11 senior guard, who was featured on last year's Wooden Preseason All-America list, averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game last year and was tabbed honorable mention All-America by the Associated Press for the second straight year.
Gearlds came off the bench for the Boilermakers last season with 10.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. The 6-1 guard, who helped Purdue to a 29-4 record, set a single-season school record by making 45.7 percent of her three-point attempts.
The 2004-05 edition of Big Ten women's basketball tips off this weekend with Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State in action.