UConn Huskies’ senior center Tina Charles was presented with the John R. Wooden Award Thursday [April 15] as the College Basketball National Player of the Year for 2010.
Previous winners of this coveted award include Larry Bird (1979), Michael Jordan (1984), Tim Duncan (1997), Kevin Durant (2008) and Candace Parker (2007).
Charles was gracious when accepting the award; she bestowed praise and gratitude for her teammates, “for the unbelievable run we’ve had the past two years, thanks to all their hard work – Maya Moore, especially.”
She saved her warmest words for Head Coach Geno Auriemma, “for always challenging me, raising my expectation levels and making me the player that I knew was in me,” she said.
“That’s why he’s such a great coach and I can’t thank him enough. I’m so proud that I came to school here and I’m really, really appreciative of everything that you’ve done in my life,” she said.
This is the first time presenters left Los Angeles, and brought the trophies to the athletes instead of flying the winners to LA.
Prior to presenting the award to Charles, Los Angeles Athletic Club President Steve Hathaway told the 40 people assembled at Gampel Pavilion that it was “only fitting the presentation be made in Storrs, because this is the epicenter of women’s college basketball.”
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball.
Since 1976, this award, named for the legendary UCLA coach, has been given to the best collegiate basketball player of that season, male or female, as decided by hundreds of members of the media.
“It is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA,” Hathaway said.
Maya Moore also wins top award
When it was announced that Charles had nipped teammate and 2009 award recipient Maya Moore, 252-251, in the voting for the John R. Wooden Award, Maya jokingly snapped her fingers in an “aw shucks” gesture that brought laughter to the room.
Later in the day, it was announced that Moore, herself, had won the 2010 Honda Sports Award in basketball, which designates her as the nation’s top collegiate female athlete in her sport.
This is the third year in a row that Moore has been nominated for the award.
Past Honda Sports Award winners from UConn for basketball include: Rebecca Lobo (1995), Jennifer Rizzotti (1996), Shea Ralph (2000), Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (2003, ’04) and Renee Montgomery (2009).
This year, besides Tina Charles, the other two nominees were Kelsey Griffin, a senior at the University of Nebraska and Nnemkadi Ogwumike, a Stanford University sophomore. The candidates were selected by the NCAA Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.
When notified of her nomination, Moore said, “Moore said, “I thank God for blessing me with the best and most committed coaches and staff in the country and my teammates, who give their best everyday.”
Throughout the year, the Honda Award is presented in 12 women’s sports and each of the winners is then entered in the balloting to determine the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year – which will be determined by separate balloting involving all NCAA-member institutions – and the winner will receive the Honda-Broderick Cup in June 2010.
Tina Charles’ acceptance speech for John R. Wooden Award, April 15, 2010 © by Vito J. Leo for HTNP.com Sports
Posted April 15, 2010 – HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan also contributed to this story.