Battier runaway winner of Wooden Award

Saturday, April 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ What's next for Shane Battier? After reaching all his goals at Duke, he'd prefer to focus on the present right now.

``I'm just concentrating on enjoying the day, that's how I've lived my life,'' the 6-foot-8 senior forward said Friday after receiving the 25th John R. Wooden Award as the male player of the year. ``I've been blessed. I just want to continue to enjoy, give back.''

Battier, who averaged 19.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 2.1 steals and 2.3 blocked shots in leading Duke to a 35-4 record this season, was honored four days after the Blue Devils won their first NCAA championship since 1992.

Battier, from Birmingham, Mich., was previously honored as The Associated Press player of the year and Naismith Award winner, and was chosen the outstanding player in the Final Four for his efforts in victories over Maryland and Arizona.

``I'm very honored to receive this award,'' he said. ``Last year, Coach Wooden told me if he was still coaching, I'd be a player he'd like to coach. That's the ultimate compliment.''

Wooden, now 90, coached UCLA to 10 NCAA championships in a 12-year span ending in 1975, when he retired.

``Every goal I've set for the last four years, I have reached,'' Battier said. ``To win the Wooden Award after winning the national championship is the perfect ending to my career. It's fitting it happened near Hollywood.''

Battier was a runaway winner, collecting 4,892 points from the more than 1,000 media members and basketball experts who participated.

Jason Williams, Battier's teammate at Duke, finished second with 3,764 points, followed by Joseph Forte of North Carolina with 2,899, Casey Jacobsen of Stanford with 2,831, Troy Murphy of Notre Dame with 2,768, Tayshaun Prince of Kentucky with 1,398, Charlie Bell of Michigan State with 1,386, Frank Williams of Illinois with 1,147, Casey Calvary of Gonzaga with 977, and Jarron Collins of Stanford with 939.

Battier was the only senior among the top five _ Murphy is a junior, and Williams, Jacobsen and Forte are sophomores.

Except for Forte, the five finalists all attended the ceremony, as did coaches Mike Krzyzewski of Duke, Mike Brey of Notre Dame, Mike Montgomery of Stanford and Matt Doherty of North Carolina.

Arizona coach Lute Olson also attended to receive the third Legends of Coaching award, joining former North Carolina coach Dean Smith and Krzyzewski, who won last year.

``Shane has had an influence on everybody in our program and probably thousands of people around the country,'' Krzyzewski said. ``His impact on the game could never be measured in stats. He's the most complete player I've ever coached, he's magnificent.''

Krzyzewski coached two previous Wooden Award winners _ Christian Laettner in 1992, and Elton Brand two years ago. Cincinnati's Kenyon Martin won the award last year.

Among other previous winners are North Carolina's Michael Jordan, Indiana State's Larry Bird, and the Naval Academy's David Robinson.

In addition to his exploits on the court, Battier was selected the top player for the Academic All-America basketball team by the College Sports Information Directors of America. He has a 3.43 grade-point average.

``Shane just does so many things,'' Doherty said. ``He does a lot of things in the box score, like scoring points, getting rebounds and blocking shots, and he does a lot of things that don't go in the box score. He was just fabulous, especially this year.''

Battier, the 10th player in Duke history to have his jersey retired, played all 80 minutes in the two Final Four games. He had 25 points and eight rebounds in a 95-84 victory over Maryland last Saturday, and 18 points and 11 rebounds in an 82-72 victory over Arizona two days later.