March 18, 2002
Duke guard Jason Williams (Plainfield, N.J.) was named the Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year on Monday as announced by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club. Williams, a sociology major, is the sixth Duke player to earn the Naismith Award, joining Johnny Dawkins (1986), Danny Ferry (1989), Christian Laettner (1992), Elton Brand (1999) and Shane Battier (2001). A first team All-America pick, Williams has already won National Player of the Year honors by ESPN.com, CBS Sportsline and College Insider.com in 2002. Last season, the NABC named Williams its National Player of the Year.
"This is the sixth time a Duke player has been awarded this prestigious honor and only the seventh time that there has been a repeat National Player of the Year," said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. "Jason joins pretty select company. I think it is indicative of the year that he has had - a fantastic year. He has been our leader all year."
Williams ranks among Duke's all-time top 10 in several statistical categories, including points (2,064-seventh), scoring average (19.3-sixth), three-point field goals (310-second), three-point attempts (788-second), three-point percentage (.393-seventh), assists (640-third) and steals (234-fifth). He is the first Blue Devil to rank among the school's career top 10 in those seven categories. He has earned first team All-America honors this season from Associated Press (unanimous), NABC, USBWA and CBS Sportsline. He is looking to join one of his current coaches, Dawkins, as the only two-time consensus first team All-America in Duke history.
"I am honored to win the Naismith Award," Williams said. "I set individual goals prior to this season, one of which was to win National Player of the Year honors. The Naismith Award is one of the most prestigious honors a player can receive and I am thrilled to be the winner. However, nothing would compare to winning a second national championship, which is our main focus right now."
The Naismith Awards, in their 34th year, are given in honor of the inventor of the game of basketball - Dr. James Naismith. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The Awards, including Men's and Women's College Player of the Year, Men's and Women's Coach of the Year, Male and Female Prep Player of the Year and Men's and Women's Official of the Year, are determined by a vote of the Naismith Board of Selectors. In addition, the Board of Selectors, comprised of a select group of leading basketball conches, journalists and administrators, honors a Men's and Women's Outstanding Contributor to Basketball.
The Atlanta Tip-Off Club was founded in 1956 as a way for Atlantans to share in a common bond - the love and enjoyment of college basketball. It has a two-fold mission: to promote continued support for the game of basketball and to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting.