Hansbrough among Naismith finalists

Updated: March 22, 2009, 10:35 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Tyler Hansbrough will be trying for his second straight Naismith Men's College Player of the Year Award, but he faces stiff competition.


The finalists for the award were announced on Sunday after a vote by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's board of selectors -- a group of basketball journalists, coaches and administrators.

Joining Hansbrough on the ballot are Pittsburgh's DeJuan Blair and Connecticut's Hasheem Thabeet, the Big East co-players of the year, and Oklahoma's Blake Griffin, the Big 12 player of the year.

"The finalists have enjoyed outstanding individual successes while leading their respective schools to tremendous seasons," said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. "That underscores the meaning of a true leader, something that is inherent in the Naismith Trophy."

Blair averaged 15.6 points and a league-leading 12.4 rebounds per game, as the Panthers finished the regular season with a 28-3 record. The 6-foot-7 sophomore helped Pittsburgh to its first-ever No. 1 ranking and then a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Pittsburgh has advanced to the Sweet 16.

Joining Blair in the final 16 is Griffin. The 6-10 sophomore led the Big 12 in scoring (22.1 ppg), rebounding (14.2 rpg) and field goal percentage (.634). Oklahoma went 27-5 in the regular season and earned a No. 2 seed in the tournament.

Hansbrough, a 6-9 senior, led North Carolina to a 28-4 mark and a regular-season ACC championship. His 21.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game helped the Tar Heels to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. UNC is another Sweet 16 squad.

Thabeet has also led his team to the round of 16. The 7-3 junior center averaged 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. The Huskies went 27-4 in the regular season and earned a No. 1 seed in the tournament.

Fan voting through text message will account for 25 percent of the final tally. The winner will be named at the National Association of Basketball Coaches Guardians of the Game awards program on Sunday, April 5 in Detroit.