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Archive for Friday, March 29, 2002

Gooden gets another award

March 29, 2002

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— Kansas hasn't played a game yet, but one Jayhawk is already a winner at the Final Four.

Junior forward Drew Gooden on Thursday was named ESPN's college basketball power forward of the year as part of a televised two-hour awards show on Georgia Tech's campus.

The 6-foot-10, 230-pound Gooden beat out Southern Cal's Sam Clancy and Georgetown's Michael Sweetney to claim the honor.

Gooden was up for one other award. He and Cincinnati's Steve Logan lost out to Duke's Jason Williams for national player of the year.

"I want to thank my teammates and coach (Roy) Williams for letting me loose this year and doing my thing  letting me go out and play and show I can play," said Gooden, who averages 20.0 points and 11.5 rebounds a game.

"I'm just trying to stay in the system and do as much as I can. I felt like the best way I could score this season is with the ball in my hands anywhere on the court."

Asked about Saturday's KU-Maryland Final Four semifinal, Gooden said: "It'll be a war. It's a battle of the tough guys. There will be a lot of banging, a lot of physical stuff going on. May the best team win.

"It's one of our goals," Gooden added of winning the title. "One is to get to the Final Four. The other is to win the whole thing. I hope we can accomplish that."

Other awards dished out Thursday night: Point guard of year  Jason Williams, Duke; shooting guard  Juan Dixon, Maryland; small forward  Mike Dunleavy, Duke; center  Udonis Haslem, Florida; coach of tear  Ben Howland, Pitt.

Weekly voters in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll were the voters for ESPN's postseason awards.

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KU popular pick: Some of the players watching ESPN's awards show were asked who would win the national title. Both Logan of Cincinnati and Clancy of USC picked Kansas.

"I pick Kansas and my man, Drew Gooden, who is sitting right here," Clancy said of fellow Californian Gooden.

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Schedule: The Jayhawks, who practiced on Thursday at the Atlanta Hawks' practice facility, later attended the Hawks-Raptors NBA game to watch former Jayhawk Jacque Vaughn of the Hawks. Today, they will practice from 1 p.m. to 1:50 p.m., Eastern time, at the Georgia Dome. The practice is open to the public.

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Recruiting: Devin Smith, a 6-5, 210-pound freshman shooting guard from Coffeyville Community College, is going to make some recruiting visits now that his junior college season has concluded. Smith, who averaged 18.6 points a game, is expected to visit KU, Illinois, Iowa and perhaps Florida State or Virginia.

Roy Williams is slated to attend one of Smith's workouts next Wednesday in Coffeyville.

"He has done a good job staying focused on winning a championship and not thinking about recruiting," said Coffeyville assistant B.J. Hill. "Now that the season is over, he's doing some research on schools. If a were a betting man, I would say he will visit Kansas."

Smith, a native of Wilmington, Del., hit 46 percent of his threes last season and over 50 percent of his floor shots. He had 94 points in four NJCAA Tourney games.

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Big money-maker: The economic impact of the Final Four on Atlanta is estimated at $50 million, compared to $292 million for the 2000 Super Bowl and $5.6 billion for the 1996 Olympics.

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