candidateUniversity of Minnesota men's basketball player Rick Rickert (Duluth, Minnesota/East) heads the list of pre-season candidates for the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award. Rickert, a sophomore forward, was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season and has been named a preseason All-American by Playboy and Basketball News.
The Naismith Awards program, now in its 35th year, honors the outstanding college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball.
The candidates were selected by a vote of a Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts. Members of the board were asked to name top male and female players who are most likely to be in contention for the award.
Minnesota women's basketball player Lindsay Whalen was named one of the 25 women's candidates for the award.
Following is the list of male candidates for the Naismith Award: Mario Austin, Mississippi State; Troy Bell, Boston College; Steve Blake, Maryland; Keith Bogans, Kentucky; Matt Bonner, Florida; Nick Collison, Kansas; Brian Cook, Illinois; Erwin Dudley, Alabama; Chris Duhon, Duke; Andre Emmett, Texas Tech; T.J. Ford, Texas; Reece Gaines, Louisville; Jason Gardner, Arizona; Jarvis Hayes, Georgia; Kirk Hinrich, Kansas; Josh Howard, Wake Forest; Jason Kapono, UCLA; Brandin Knight, Pittsburgh; Chris Marcus, Western Kentucky; Brett Nelson, Florida; Hollis Price, Oklahoma; Darius Rice, Miami; Rick Rickert, Minnesota; Luke Ridnour, Oregon; Mike Sweetney, Georgetown; Chris Thomas, Notre Dame; Dwayne Wade, Marquette; Luke Walton, Arizona; Travis Watson, Virginia; David West, Xavier.