ATLANTA — Georgia Tech senior Jason Collier (Springfield, Ohio) and sophomore Niesha Butler (New York, N.Y.) are among pre-season candidates for the 1999-2000 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award, given annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
Collier, a second-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection last season, led the Yellow Jackets and finished fifth in the ACC in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per contest. He also ranked sixth in the ACC in rebounding, sixth in blocked shots and 10th in field goal percentage.
“The Nasimith Award is a very prestigious honor,” said Tech men’s basketball coach Bobby Cremins. “For Jason to be a candidate is wonderful. Jason had a very good year last year, but I think Jason Collier’s best basketball is ahead of him. Hopefully Jason will stay healthy and have a great year.”
Butler, the 1999 ACC Rookie of the Year, was the second-leading freshman scorer in the nation last season, averaging 19.3 points per game. A second-team all-ACC choice and freshman all-America, she finished second overall in the conference in scoring, but led the ACC in scoring in league games at 21.3. Of the 30 female candidates, Butler and Florida’s Brandi McCain were the only two sophomores named to the list. At 19, Butler is, however, the youngest candidate.
“Just for Niesha to be nominated for the Naismith Award is a prestigious honor,” said Tech women’s coach Agnus Berenato. “The fact that she is only a sophomore and her name is being mentioned with the caliber of players on that list is tremendous. This is also a first for the Georgia Tech women’s basketball program, and it is one of our goals to have somebody win this award someday.”
The candidates were selected by a vote of the Naismith Board of Selectors which is comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts. Members of the board were asked to name the top male and female players who are most likely to be in contention for the award.