Sunday, April 3, 2005

Simien nation’s top senior

Jayhawk standout wins CLASS award


Wayne Simien was declared college basketball's top senior Saturday night.

Today, he will find out if he's the No. 1 player.

Simien, Kansas University's 6-foot-9 power forward from Leavenworth, was named winner of the Bayer Advantage Senior CLASS award in a nationally televised presentation from the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

The acronym "CLASS" stands for "Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School."

Simien, who beat out 59 other seniors, will be honored at a banquet April 30 in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas State's Kendra Wecker won the women's Senior CLASS award.

Simien is a finalist for the Naismith Trophy with sophomores Chris Paul (Wake Forest) and Andrew Bogut (Utah) and junior J.J. Redick (Duke). The award will be presented today in St. Louis.

"The memories and relationships I built coming back for my senior year ... you can't put a price tag on that," said Simien, who was flanked by the award's founder, Dick Enberg, at the presentation, held before the North Carolina-Michigan State semifinal.

"Most importantly, I receive my degree in May."

Simien already has been named consensus first-team All-American, first-team all-Big 12 Conference and Big 12 Player of the Year.

"It's a great feeling," Simien, who also is a Wooden Award finalist, said of being considered for so many awards. "I wouldn't be anywhere close to getting these types of awards if not for the coaches and teammates around me the last four years."

Simien told Enberg what he told the Journal-World earlier in the week: that he wanted former coach Roy Williams and North Carolina to win it all.

"I definitely have to go with North Carolina -- the opportunity to play for coach Williams two years and the fact I've known him since 1996. I have to go with him," Simien said.

Of today's Naismith Trophy finalists, Simien said: "I played basketball with and spent time with Chris Paul and J.J. Redick at the Nike and Jordan camps. I've never meet Bogut.

"It's funny, because last summer we were all joking around and claiming we'd be the one to win the award. Now I get to see them all in tuxedos. It's a good feeling I'm up for it with those guys."


Wright honored: KU signee Julian Wright, a 6-9, 215-pound guard/forward from Homewood-Flossmoor High in suburban Chicago, on Saturday was named the Chicago Tribune's "Mr. Basketball" in the state of Illinois.

"If I'm Mr. Basketball--then Jon (Scheyer, Glenbrook North) is Mr. Basketball Jr.," said Wright, who averaged 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks. "It's a great honor and I feel I deserve it -- but I didn't expect it. I am a little surprised. Jon had such a great season and led his team to the state title. If Jon had won, I wouldn't have been surprised."


Jankovich at Fresno?: Kansas University assistant Tim Jankovich has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the head-coaching job at Fresno State.

Several candidates have been mentioned by the Fresno Bee, including Texas Tech assistant Pat Knight, Pacific coach Bob Thomason, Oklahoma State assistant James Dickey, Cal State Fullerton coach Bobby Braswell, Arizona assistant Josh Pastner, Fresno City College coach Vance Walberg, former UCLA coach Steve Lavin and others.

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