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The Players' Choice Awards In this election year, SI had panels of players cast their votes and speak their minds about the best and worst in the college game


how the vote worked

To get the real skinny on who's who in the college game, we went
to the best source: the players. In each of the traditional
power conferences--the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-10
and SEC--we selected one voter from each team and polled the
players on who in their respective conferences ranked highest in
12 categories. Our rules were liberatingly few. All were
instructed that they could not vote for a teammate and
guaranteed that they could speak their minds freely, without
fear of their comments becoming bulletin board fodder. They were
also asked to name their choice for national player of the year,
and the winner of that vote is profiled starting on page 80. In
the interest of fairness, no category winner was included unless
he received at least three votes; hence not every league has all
the same categories.

What was the result? We got a no-holds-barred exchange that goes
to show what players will say when they don't have to be

BIG 10

Strongest player Sergio McClain, forward, Illinois (36% of vote).
"He's only 6'4", but he loves to back you down and go inside.
He's rebounding against guys six to eight inches taller than him,
but he's in there throwing people around."

Best future pro Brian Cook, forward, Illinois (36%). "He's very
skilled at 6'10". He's not just a straight post player. He can
come outside and hit jump shots and handle the ball on the
perimeter. The best pros are the versatile ones."

Best shooter Joe Crispin, guard, Penn State (55%). "He's pretty
quick, and he's got a neon-green light to shoot whenever he's
open. He can shoot from anywhere in the gym, and he can really
stroke it. It's hard to guard guys like that."

Most underrated Carson Cunningham, guard, Purdue (27%). "You
look at him and you think, This guy can't play, but he really
does damage. He makes tough shots, and he's a real confident

Opposing coach you'd most like to play for Tom Izzo, Michigan
State (36%). "His track record speaks for itself. He's proven he
can win, and he's making his players play beyond what they
thought they were capable of."

Opposing coach you'd least like to play for Gene Keady, Purdue
(27%). "He said some things at the end of my recruitment when I
decided to go somewhere else that I didn't really appreciate."

Dirtiest player Lucas Johnson, forward, Illinois (27%). "He's
always trying to grab you and hold you, and he does a lot of

Toughest place to play Michigan State (55%). "Their students are
right on the court, and the rowdy bunch is right in your face at
all times. They have people designated to yell at you even when
you're on the bench."

Sleeper team Iowa (55%). "I think they'll have good balance, and
that's difficult to play against because you don't know who's
going to step up. Without [the departed Rob] Griffin and [Jacob]
Jaacks, I think they'll have much better chemistry."

Biggest crybaby Dane Fife, guard, Indiana (27%). "No call that's
gone against him has ever been right."

Best defender Mike Kelley, guard, Wisconsin (64%). "He's the
best off-the-ball defender. He reads passing lanes well. On the
ball he's not as tough, but he's smart enough to know how to not
let you catch the ball."


Biggest crybaby Troy Murphy, forward, Notre Dame (31%).
"Everyone knows he's the best player in the league, but if he
doesn't get a call, he really cries about it. And he gets a lot
of calls, too."

Best shooter (tie) Darius Lane, guard, Seton Hall (31%). "You
think Darius Lane, you think confidence. Some people might shoot
as well as him, but they're not as confident as him. That's huge
when it comes to shooting." Albert Mouring, guard, Connecticut
(31%). "He really knows how to use those screens. His release is
quick and he knows he's not going to drive by you, so he's just
going to give it to you every time."

Toughest place to play (tie) Connecticut (31%). "The fans at
Gampel are ruthless. They get on you from the time you walk in."
Syracuse (31%). "Not only do they put a lot of fans in the
Carrier Dome, but it's a type of arena you're not used to playing
in. It's something you have to adjust to, especially when it
comes to shooting."

Best future pro Murphy (77%). "He's a player you have to
devote all of your attention to. He doesn't get taken out of his
game too easily."

Sleeper team Georgetown (46%). "They have some big players and
very nice guards. I just think it's a matter of time before it
all meshes. With [point guard Kevin] Braswell maturing another
year, I think he will help that team a lot."

Best defender Samuel Dalembert, center, Seton Hall (46%). "He
can make plays that are unbelievable. If he learns better
footwork instead of just relying on blocked shots, he could be
the best defender in the country."

Dirtiest player Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, center, Georgetown (23%).
"When you go in the lane, he'll let you know he's there. He'll
push you, elbow you, bite you. You know, I could have said that
about the whole Georgetown team."

Strongest player (tie) Rashod Kent, forward, Rutgers (23%).
"He's an animal. He's an undersized center [6'6", 265] with a
big body, and he knows how to use it. You can't go through him;
you have to go around him." Anthony Glover, forward, St. John's
(23%). "I've never seen anyone his size [6'6", 225] control the
middle the way he does. He has a nice frame and a warrior's

Opposing coach you'd most like to play for Mike Jarvis, St.
John's (38%). "I just love his style of play. It's hard-nosed.
It doesn't matter if you're the last guy off the bench, he makes
you play hard. He brings a good team every year."

Opposing coach you'd least like to play for (tie) Steve Lappas,
Villanova (31%). "You can tell he aggravates his players with
his voice and his facial expressions. I have doubts as to
whether he really knows his stuff." Jim Calhoun, Connecticut
(31%). "It just seems like he's never satisfied, always nagging
and nagging, just not ever calm."

BIG 12

Opposing coach you'd most like to play for Quin Snyder, Missouri
(25%). "If he has talented players, he lets them go a little
bit. Other coaches try to control too much."

Most underrated Nolan Johnson, guard, Oklahoma (25%). "In one
game we lost, they spread the floor for him with five seconds to
go. We put five guys on him. Everybody knew what he was going to
do, but we couldn't stop him."

Best future pro Jamaal Tinsley, point guard, Iowa State (42%).
"He has the ability to get by people and find teammates, but he
can also score himself. He's just unguardable. He even shakes
people in zones."

Toughest place to play Oklahoma State (33%). "Those six or seven
thousand fans [doubled this year to 13,000] seem like 40,000
people yelling at you. At times it seems the gym is shaking."

Best shooter Brian Grawer, guard, Missouri (33%). "Every time I
see him shoot, he's always set. Every shot he takes looks the

Strongest player Chris Owens, forward, Texas (75%). "He has
great low-post moves and knows how to go back up strong and dunk
on people. A lot of big guys in our league don't do that."

Opposing coach you'd least like to play for Roy Williams, Kansas
(25%). "He's overrated. He had a team one year that had six
first- and second-round picks, and he hasn't won a championship

Biggest trash talker Clarence Gilbert, guard, Missouri (33%).
"He talks when he's on, he talks when he's off. He talks when
he's not even playing. Lock him in a room, and he'll entertain


Strongest player Udonis Haslem, center, Florida (58%). "He's a
hoss. He's only 6'7", 6'8", but he's about 285 pounds and
doesn't have too much fat on him. Plus he's got big elbows. I
ran into one of those, and it hurt like hell."

Opposing coach you'd most like to play for Tubby Smith, Kentucky
(33%). "It seems like he's the type of coach who gets on you but
at the same time gives you freedom on the court. He disciplines
you but also lets you do your thing."

Opposing coach you'd least like to play for Rick Stansbury,
Mississippi State (25%). "It seems like their players don't have
any discipline. Sometimes it looks like they're going through the
motions. I'd rather play for somebody who's going to have you

Dirtiest player Charles Hathaway, center, Tennessee (25%). "He
cheap-shotted me with a forearm in the back of the head last
year, and I ain't slept good since."

Best future pro Joe Johnson, forward, Arkansas (58%). "He's got
it all: He can dribble, he's tall [6'8"], he can shoot, he can
play a lot of positions. Once he gets his J rolling, he's

Best shooter D.A. Layne, guard, Georgia (33%). "He comes off
picks well, but last year he developed his ability to create."

Biggest crybaby Tony Harris, guard, Tennessee (42%). "He thinks
he's the best player in the league, but a lot of people think
he's not even the best player on his team. He's complaining to
the refs all the time, just whining about stuff."

Sleeper team South Carolina (50%). "They had a great run in the
SEC tournament last year, and now they have a lot of guys
coming back, and they have some big point guards. Not too many
people think about South Carolina when you talk about an SEC
championship, but they're going to be tough."

Biggest trash talker Ron Slay, forward, Tennessee (42%). "I
don't think he could wake up in the morning without talking. His
mouth is his alarm clock."

Toughest place to play Florida (50%). "The fans in the bleachers
are right on top of the court. It gets really loud in there,
and then [the Gators] press so you feel like it's cramped. It's
like a sixth man defending you."


Strongest player Julius Peppers, forward, North Carolina (33%).
"I remember coming around a pick once and hitting him, and it was
like I ran into an oak tree. He's an All-ACC defensive end. When
he's on the court, the rest of us should get to wear pads."

Best future pro Terence Morris, forward, Maryland (44%). "He's a
6'9" guy who can handle the ball on the perimeter, shoot the
three and play with his back to the basket. What NBA team
wouldn't kill for that?"

Biggest trash talker Will Solomon, guard, Clemson (67%). "In one
game he came over to our bench and asked our coach, 'You got a
point guard who can stop me? You better sub.' It was sad because
our point guard was standing right next to him."

Dirtiest player Kenny Inge, forward, N.C. State, (44%). "He gives
elbows to the head and he's the king of flagrant fouls. I don't
know why. I guess he's not a very happy person."

Most underrated Chris Williams, forward, Virginia (33%). "You
don't hear much about him, and then you get the Virginia
scouting report and there's this guy getting 16 points and six
boards a game, and you ask yourself, Who's this guy?"

Biggest crybaby Brendan Haywood, center, North Carolina (33%).
"He never thinks he has committed a foul, and then the whole time
you're shooting the free throws, he's staring at the ref and
whining, 'I never even touched him.'"

Sleeper team Virginia (44%). "They didn't get into the NCAAs
last season, and they probably deserved it more than North
Carolina. Then they had to watch Carolina go to the Final Four.
They're mad, and they've got talent."

Best shooter (tie) Juan Dixon, guard, Maryland, (33%). "Whenever
you see Dixon standing behind the three-point line with a good
look, you might as well start running to the other end." Joe
Forte, guard, North Carolina (33%). "He can have three guys in
his face, and he'll still get the shot down. He hit huge shots
in the NCAAs last year, when he was only a freshman. That's

Toughest place to play Maryland (44%). "It's hard to concentrate
when you've got batteries, pennies and ice chips flying at you
from every direction."

Best defender Shane Battier, forward, Duke (67%). "He's a 6'8"
guy who can guard the post and check the perimeter guards, and
he's always got his teammates' backs."

PAC 10

Most underrated Deaundra Tanner, guard, Oregon State (30%). "He
doesn't get a lot of credit because of the other good point
guards in the Pac-10, but whatever his team needs, he gives it
to them--scoring, assists or rebounds."

Best defender Loren Woods, center, Arizona (40%). "He can change
a game with his shot blocking."

Best future pro (tie) Woods (30%). "He can do more than just
block shots. He's got a bank shot that he can hit from 15 feet
out." Gilbert Arenas, guard, Arizona (30%). "He has a sweet touch
and a smoothness about him, kind of like Penny Hardaway."

Dirtiest player Awvee Storey, forward, Arizona State (40%).
"He'll give you a shot in the gut or the back when it's not so
obvious that the ref can see it. He's a Chicago kid. That's his

Biggest crybaby Earl Watson, guard, UCLA (30%). "He thinks he's a
lot better than he is. He's the first to talk trash when they're
winning and the first to cry when they're losing."

Toughest place to play Oregon (70%). "That gym up there is old
school, and the students sit real close to the court. You can
turn around and hit somebody if you want."

Best shooter Casey Jacobsen, swingman, Stanford (70%). "He's
constantly moving around. When he comes off screens, his feet and
hands are always set and ready to go."

Biggest trash talker Sean Lampley, forward, California (30%). "He
just likes to lip off, and not just in-your-face type stuff.
Sometimes he'll talk about someone on his own team."

Strongest player Michael Wright, forward, Arizona (60%). "He
doesn't necessarily rebound with positioning; he just knocks
people out of the way. He's great at creating his own space."

Sleeper team California (40%). "They've got all their players
back, and they were pretty good to start with."

Opposing coach you'd most like to play for Lute Olson, Arizona
(70%). "I don't think there's a guard in the country who wouldn't
want to play for him."

Opposing coach you'd least like to play for Ernie Kent, Oregon
(30%). "I think he lets the game take over his emotions. He gets
too excited for me."