Nelson completes clean sweep of awards

Updated: April 10, 2004, 7:16 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Saint Joseph's guard Jameer Nelson won the John R. Wooden Award on Saturday, completing a sweep of college basketball's player of the year trophies.

Nelson edged Connecticut's Emeka Okafor in one of the closest votes since the Wooden Award began in 1976. Nelson got 5,408 points to 5,215 for Okafor. Voting closed March 29, a week before Okafor led the Huskies to the national championship.

Saint Joseph's fell a game short of the Final Four, but Nelson spent the last two weeks of the season collecting honors, including from The Associated Press and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.

He also received the Adolph Rupp trophy and the Bob Cousy Award as the country's top college point guard.

Nelson led Saint Joseph's to its first No. 1 ranking and a 27-0 start to the season. The Hawks finished 30-2, losing to Oklahoma State in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament.

Stanford's Josh Childress was third with 3,052 points; Duke's Chris Duhon, whose Blue Devils lost to UConn in the national semifinals, was fourth with 2,571; and Mississippi State's Lawrence Roberts finished fifth with 2,296.

"It's unbelievable," Nelson said after accepting the trophy from the 93-year-old Wooden. "I can't express in words how much this means to receive an award with this man's name on it."

Stanford's Mike Montgomery received the Legends of Coaching Award during the nationally televised ceremony at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

"It's been a long journey since scrapping for minutes in the '60s at Long Beach State to this moment," Montgomery said. "I'm particularly pleased we're recognizing a lifetime of work as opposed to one game. As far as legends of coaching, there's only one in this room and that's John Wooden."

The winner was determined in national voting by more than 1,000 media and college basketball experts.

Duke's Alana Beard won the inaugural women's Wooden Award on Friday.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press