Archive for Wednesday, November 12, 1997


November 12, 1997


KU's Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce are the first teammates to be named to AP's preseason All-America first team since 1992.

Kansas has not one, but two preseason All-Americans on its men's basketball roster.

KU senior forward Raef LaFrentz and junior forward Paul Pierce joined Arizona guards Mike Bibby and Miles Simon and North Carolina forward Antawn Jamison as members of the Associated Press first team announced Tuesday.

Having teammates on the AP first team is a rarity. Since the preseason All-America team was first selected before the 1986-87 season, only Duke's Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill, prior to the 1992-93 season, had been chosen as a teammate tandem.

"I'm extremely happy for the youngsters," KU coach Roy Williams said. "They are very deserving. I think the fact they chose to return to Kansas as opposed to entering the NBA Draft shows they enjoy college and makes for a healthy atmosphere.

"Both are All-America players, but they are also All-America people. I feel very fortunate to coach them."

LaFrentz, the only returning All-America from last season, was the leading vote-getter. He was named on 69 of the 71 ballots cast by a national media panel.

"I'm very flattered to be mentioned in the same group with players like that, but I'm most happy there are two Jayhawks on that team," LaFrentz said. "Paul is finally starting to get the recognition he deserves. Paul and I both know this is a preseason honor and it doesn't mean much and we would gladly trade in individual honors for team achievements."

Jamison, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, was second with 67 votes and was followed by the Arizona backcourt of Bibby, a 6-1 sophomore who received 59 votes, Simon, a 6-5 senior who had 32, and Pierce, who was named on 28 ballots.

Notre Dame senior forward Pat Garrity and Duke junior guard Trajan Langdon were the only other players to receive more than 10 votes, getting 22 and 12, respectively.

Bibby averaged 13.5 points and 5.2 assists last season while shooting almost 40 percent from three-point range.

Simon, who missed the start of last season for academic reasons, averaged 18.4 points and 4.2 assists while shooting 41 percent from three-point range.

``Not only is it a great honor for Mike and Miles, but it also a great honor for our program to have two guys picked to be on the same team,'' Arizona coach Lute Olson said Monday. ``The way Mike and Miles performed throughout last season was outstanding, but the real key for them to receive this type of honor was the way they played in the NCAA Tournament, particularly in the Final Four.''

LaFrentz averaged 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds last season while shooting 58 percent from the field.

Pierce averaged 16.3 points and 6.8 rebounds while leading the team with a 47 percent mark from three-point range.

Jamison helped the Tar Heels reach the Final Four last season, averaging 19.1 points and 9.4 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field. His decision to return to North Carolina was one of the big reaasons the Tar Heels were ranked fourth in the AP preseason poll.

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