Archive for Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Team MVP honored at ceremony, but mum on future

April 9, 2002


An announcement was made regarding Drew Gooden at Kansas University's basketball awards ceremony on Monday night.

But it had nothing to do with Gooden's impending decision whether to skip his senior season at KU for the NBA.

KU coach Roy Williams brought 6-foot-10 junior forward Gooden  and several members of a Lied Center audience of 2,000  to tears when he revealed Gooden's jersey No. 0 will hang from the Allen Fieldhouse rafters, perhaps as soon as next season.

Gooden, who was named KU's Most Valuable Player at the awards presentation, recently was named National Assn. of Basketball Coaches Co-Player of the Year. He shared the award with Duke's Jason Williams.

One criteria for having a jersey hung is being named national player of the year.

"Coach had said this was his decision whether to stay at KU or leave for the NBA sometime this week. a possibility. We talked about it after the Final Four, but tonight it struck me. I am honored," Gooden said. "With the season being over and the banquet  it makes it emotional to finally realize what I've accomplished."

As far as what he might accomplish, and where he might accomplish it in the future, Gooden said he'd announce

"Whatever decision I make will be best for me, (but) this all makes it tough," Gooden said.

What's the toughest part?

"Just wanting to be on this team playing with these guys again," said Gooden, who NBA scouts insist is a sure lottery pick if he enters the 2002 Draft.

Teammate Nick Collison  he and fellow junior Kirk Hinrich also will review material on their NBA draft status provided by Williams  said he believed Gooden was truly torn between KU and the pros.

"I think he knows the best decision for him is probably to leave," Collison said. "But I think he feels he wants to stay. It's hard to leave because he's had such a good time. It's just hard to actually do it. He possibly could (stay). It wouldn't be that bad a decision. I really don't think he'd lose anything.

"(But) when kids grow up, they want to be in the NBA their whole life. When you have a chance to go in a great situation, your mind tells you to do it. Sometimes your heart tells you something else."

Gooden's dad, Andrew Gooden II, concurred with Collison.

"The conflict is that Drew never dreamed he'd come to college, play for that school and fall in love with the community, state, teachers, coaches, the players," Gooden II said after the ceremony. "He is having a great time and he doesn't want to give that up. That's half the calling card. He is worried he'd feel he's deserting people. He's not a quitter."

During the ceremony, Williams told KU fans: "I'm trying to get you guys to understand what I'm saying to Drew, and I want 2,000 people in this place and hundreds of thousands of Jayhawk fans to want Drew to do what he wants to do. There's no pressure.

"I don't want anybody to say, 'Oh, Drew, you need to stay,' because that's not right. I can offer you (fans) the kind of money Drew could possibly get and you'd give up your last year at ol' KU Â and don't sit there and say you wouldn't. I want everybody to understand if Drew goes he's given us three great years. If Drew stays I'll enjoy coaching the heck out of him. Â

"When his jersey is retired I'll be in (the locker room) at halftime, so I wanted to be able to say how proud I was in front of 2,000 people to coach a young man who'll have his jersey retired in the rafters."


Collison ponders NBA: "I'll talk to coach Williams. I will look at it. You might as well look at every option you have," Collison said of leaving early. "I think guys have got to be able to look at every possible option. Chances are I'll be back but I'm still going to look at it."

Hinrich also will meet with Williams  Collison said there's no timetable as to when  but both have in the past indicated they are likely to return.


MVP: Gooden won the rebounding award and was named team MVP.

"The MVP voting was closest in 14 years. Not to take anything away from Drew. He was deserving, but it was a team in the perfect sense," Williams said.

Can we assume the MVP race was a battle between Hinrich and Gooden?

"You can say that if you like. I'm not saying it," KU coach Williams said, noting players and coaches vote for MVP. "Both had great great years and Nick had a great year too."


Dad attended game: Williams said his father, Babe Williams, attended the KU-Maryland game. It marked the first game Babe had ever seen his son coach. Roy and his dad, a North Carolina native, have not had a close relationship throughout the years.

"In Atlanta at the Final Four my dad came to the game. It's the first game he'd ever seen me coach  high school, assistant, head coach, the first game ever," Williams revealed. "I talked to him. He said, 'Man those boys get up and down the court.' He followed us. It was the first time he'd seen me coach because he enjoyed what those guys on this stage were doing."

Williams also said coaching legend John Wooden praised the Jayhawks at Sunday's Wooden Awards. "He said, 'Boy, Roy, I really enjoy watching your team play.' He said this year might have been the most joy he got out of watching a group."


Funeral for a friend: Williams had a long weekend. He was in Los Angeles Sunday for the Wooden Awards and flew to Charlotte, N.C., Monday, to attend a funeral of a long time friend, a man who "did Williams' taxes since 1980."

"He had seen 596 consecutive North Carolina games, dating to when I went there," Williams said. "I called him after the Texas game. He said, 'Boy, I love watching your team play.' He's yet another guy who told me how much he enjoyed the ride. In five years as a high school coach, 10 years as a college assistant and 14 years as a head college coach I've never been around a group of young men I enjoyed like I enjoyed this group."


Working on tan: Williams says he'll be spending the next three days relaxing  "If you want to find me I'll be on the beach"  then gear up for a full month of recruiting. He will be in Lawrence this weekend recruiting Coffeyville CC guard Devin Smith, who will visit KU Friday and Saturday. Smith is considering just KU, Iowa and Virginia. Finalist Illinois Monday received a commitment from Aaron Spears, a 6-9 forward from Chicago Dunbar and the Illini are through with recruiting.


Awards: Gooden won the Bill Bridges Rebounding Award, to go with his MVP honor. Hinrich won the Dutch Lonborg Free Throw Percentage Award aand Ted Owens Defensive Player Award. Aaron Miles won the Cedric Hunter/Jacque Vaughn Assists Award; Collison the Dick Harp Field Goal Percentage Award; Keith Langford the Clyde Lovellette Most Improved Player Award; Jeff Carey the Ken Koenigs Academic Award. Jeff Boschee and Carey won the James Naismith Captains Award.

Senior Awards went to Brett Ballard, Boschee, Carey, Lewis Harrison, Todd Kappelmann and Chris Zerbe.


Dougherty emotional: Williams has yet to announce a replacement for Neil Dougherty, who is headed to TCU. Williams said an announcement might come "pretty soon."

Dougherty grew emotional during his speech. "I am Kansas born," the Leavenworth native said, "and it's exactly the way I'll always be. I do love this place. These seven years (under Williams) have been incredible. What I learned here I can only hope I can take to TCU and it's an opportunity for me to show so many more people how special Kansas basketball is."


Criteria: KU coach Williams did explain there will be upcoming meetings to make sure Gooden qualifies to have his banner hung in the fieldhouse. But it is believed co-player of the year will ultimately qualify Gooden.

"I'm gonna push, pull and twist arms of Richard (Konzem, associate AD), Doug (Vance, assistant AD), Dr. Bohl (Al, AD) and chancellor Hemenway (Robert) to make sure we can add another jersey in the rafters."

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