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Durant Captures Wooden Award in Runaway

By JOHN NADEL
The Associated Press
Sunday, April 8, 2007; 5:37 AM

LOS ANGELES -- Kevin Durant completed a sweep of the top six national player of the year honors. It was a humbling experience in more ways than one.

The Texas star won the John R. Wooden Award in a runaway Saturday to become the first freshman to receive the trophy, but friend and rival Acie Law of Texas A&M taught him a lesson on the Los Angeles Athletic Club basketball court a day earlier.

"Me and Acie were in here playing 1-on-1 last night. He beat me three times," Durant said. "He's a great guy _ he's going to have a great career."

Candace Parker, the 6-foot-4 sophomore who led Tennessee to its seventh NCAA championship, won the women's Wooden Award.

Law, a senior who finished fourth in the male voting, figures to be playing in the NBA next season. Durant hasn't announced a decision regarding his future.

"Right now, I don't even know," said the 6-foot-9 swingman, a sure bet to be one of the first players picked in the NBA draft should he decide to go pro. "I'm just enjoying the moment, having fun.

"When the time comes, I'll make the right decision."

Durant outdistanced Ohio State freshman Greg Oden in the balloting of more than 1,000 voters, including media and college basketball experts. Previously, he won the Naismith Trophy, The Associated Press Player of the Year award, the Adolph Rupp Trophy, the NABC Player of the Year award, and the Oscar Robertson Trophy.

"No one deserves it more," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "We could talk all day about what he's done. The best thing is the way he's done it as a teammate."

Durant averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds _ one of three players in the country to average more than 20 points and 10 rebounds.

"Like coach always says, it's big-time," Durant said. "I'm just honored to be here. I wish my teammates could be here to share this with me."

Durant is the second Texas player to win the award, joining T.J. Ford, who won in 2003.

Durant received 4,351 points. He was followed by Oden (2,858), Wisconsin senior Alando Tucker (2,779), Law (2,708); North Carolina sophomore Tyler Hansbrough (2,142), UCLA junior Arron Afflalo (1,891), Florida junior Joakim Noah (1,741), Nevada senior Nick Fazekas (1,409), Kansas sophomore Brandon Rush (837) and Oregon senior Aaron Brooks (799).

The top four vote-getters attended the ceremony.

"He's the best player I've ever played against," Law said of Durant. "There are no flaws to his game. The sky's the limit for him."

Several top high school players have gone straight to the NBA in recent years, including Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal and LeBron James. The league changed its rule before this season, calling for players to spend at least one year in college.

Durant and Oden both said they were planning to go to college, so the rule change didn't matter to them.

"Being in college has helped me out a lot," Durant said. "I was always going to come to college. We don't look at ourselves as freshmen _ we look at ourselves as basketball players."

Oden also said he hasn't made a decision regarding his future.

"I have no idea. Right now, I'm taking some time away from basketball," he said. "It's just an honor to be here."

The awards are named for the former UCLA coach who guided the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships in a 12-year span before retiring in 1975.

"This is a huge honor," Parker said. "I'm a student of the game, I know who John Wooden is and what he's done for basketball. I have the pyramid of success on my wall."

Wooden formulated the pyramid of success as a philosophy for his players.

Parker received 224 points in the balloting of more than 200 voters. She was followed by Harding (181), Paris (169), North Carolina senior Ivory Latta (112) and LSU junior Sylvia Fowles (76).

The top three finishers attended.

UCLA's Marques Johnson, who won the first award two years after the 96-year-old Wooden retired, presented Durant with his trophy. The women's award was first presented in 2004.

For the second time since inception of the award, Wooden didn't attend the ceremony. The Wooden family announced in August 2005 that he would no longer participate because of a trademark dispute concerning the use of his name.

© 2007 The Associated Press