Wayman Tisdale Award to honor nation's top freshman

U.S. Basketball Writers Association will give college basketball's best first-year player an award named after the former Oklahoma star.
By John Rohde, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Modified: July 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm •  Published: July 24, 2010
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First-year standouts have become the face of men's college basketball, and the nation's top freshman now will be honored with an award named after former Oklahoma great Wayman Tisdale.

Organizers of the Wayman Tisdale Award already have an alliance with the United States Basketball Writers Association, which will serve as the election body and present the honor annually at the Final Four site.

The USBWA's endorsement and Tisdale's name give the honor instant credibility.

Also lending notoriety is the propensity of notable freshmen who play just one season at the collegiate level before entering the NBA Draft — past standouts such as Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and John Wall.

“This could quickly be considered the nation's most valuable player award,” said former OU coach Billy Tubbs, who led the Sooners to national prominence after recruiting Tisdale out of Tulsa Washington High School.

The 6-foot-9 Tisdale averaged 24.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and shot 58.0 percent from the field as a freshman in 1982-83. He was a three-time All-American at OU before leaving after his junior season, became a member of the gold medal 1984 Olympic team and played 12 seasons in the NBA and averaged 15.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in his pro career.

Tisdale also was an accomplished jazz musician. He died from complications of cancer on May 15, 2009, at age 44.

In 1973, freshmen became eligible to compete at the NCAA varsity level. Despite the recent impressive run of standout first-year players, “I don't think anybody had a better freshman year than Wayman, let's put it that way,” Tubbs said. “I think it's a very appropriate honor, considering Wayman was the first freshman to ever make All-American.”

Former Oklahoma football player and assistant coach Scott Hill, who is general manager of Performance Sports, will serve as executive director of the Tisdale Award.

Hill said the idea was first broached while having Thanksgiving dinner last year with brother-in-law Bill Webb, who is the founder of Legacy Foundation and Event Management, which provides strategic and operational management for charitable endeavors.

Webb said it was Gary Vick who initially suggested naming the award after Tisdale. Vick is basketball operations manager at Performance, longtime executive director of the Athlete's First AAU basketball program and director of the charitable organization Access Sports Inc.

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"Information for the Tisdale Award can be found at www.access-sports.net."

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