Archive for Tuesday, March 4, 1997

LAFRENTZ PILES UP AWARDS

March 4, 1997

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The Big 12 coaches also named Roy Williams its coach of the year on Monday. The AP coaching award will be released later this week, while LaFrentz was expected to be named the AP's Player of the Year today.

Raef LaFrentz stockpiled a pair of honors on Monday.

LaFrentz, Kansas University's 6-foot-11 junior forward from Monona, Iowa, was named the Big 12 Coaches' Player of the Year, in addition to garnering first-team Associated Press all-Big 12 honors.

"It all started last summer. I dedicated myself to making myself bigger and stronger and gaining more stamina," LaFrentz said Monday. "I feel more confident about what I can do."

LaFrentz has averaged 19.0 points and nine rebounds for the 29-1 Jayhawks. He has hit 59.5 percent of his shots and 75.7 percent of his free throws. Also, he has 38 blocks, second on the team to Scot Pollard, who has 56.

Last year, LaFrentz averaged 13.4 points and 8.2 boards.

"I am very pleased for Raef and the rest of our team," KU coach Roy Williams said. "Raef has had an incredible year on both ends of the court. Particularly after Scot went down he stepped his play up to another level."

Williams was tabbed the Big 12 Coaches' Coach of the Year Monday. Jacque Vaughn was named second-team all-conference, while Paul Pierce made the third team.

On Monday, LaFrentz was again asked on a Big 12 Conference call about possibly leaving KU for the NBA after three seasons.

Several NBA scouts have indicated LaFrentz would likely be one of the top eight picks in this year's draft. One scout said he would be the third overall pick behind Tim Duncan of Wake Forest and Ron Mercer of Kentucky.

"An environment like this is something that would be very, very hard to walk away from," LaFrentz said. "It's unbelievable the kind of support and appreciation the fans showed on Senior Day, and I think that's what makes being a Jayhawk so special.

"I really don't know," he responded, asked if winning a national title would influence his decision. "Coming out of high school I always said one of my goals was to win a national championship at Kansas. Definitely that would be one more goal reached."

Here's the complete Coaches All-Big 12 team. First team: LaFrentz; Chauncey Billups, Colorado; Dedric Willoughby, Iowa State; Reggie Freeman, Texas; Tony Battie, Texas Tech.

Second team: Vaughn; Brian Skinner, Baylor; Tyronn Lue, Nebraska; Nate Erdmann, Oklahoma; Cory Carr, Tech.

Third team: Pierce; Kelvin Cato, Kenny Pratt, Iowa State, Kelly Thames, Missouri; Chianti Roberts, Okie State.

Other honors went to Texas A&M's Jerald Brown, named Freshman of the Year, and Oklahoma's Corey Brewer, named Newcomer of the Year.

Pollard's foot responds well: Scot Pollard scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 27 minutes during Sunday's 85-65 win over Nebraska in Lincoln.

"He doesn't feel any extra pain or soreness that he felt Saturday and that's very encouraging," KU coach Roy Williams said Monday night on his Hawk Talk radio show. "I was really encouraged by his performance, his effort and ability to run. He still doesn't have that explosiveness."

No. 300: Williams will coach his 300th career game Friday. The Jayhawks will meet the winner of Thursday's Oklahoma State-Baylor game at noon Friday at Kemper Arena. Williams is 242-57 (.809) at KU.

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