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Cleveland native is among 30 preseason candidates for the nation’s most prestigious award 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Sophomore center Jantel Lavender, the reigning Big Ten co-Player of the Year as a freshman in 2008, was one of 30 players named to the Women’s Wooden Award All-America Team and Player of the Year watch list Thursday.

Lavender also was named to the list last year at midseason because freshman, transfers and medical redshirts are not eligible for the preseason list. She was the first Ohio State freshman to be named to the midseason list.

Lavender was voted the Big Ten co-Player of the Year by the coaches, becoming the first Big Ten freshman men or women’s to win player of the year honors. She also was named the Big Ten player of the week for a record four times, the most by a freshman in conference history.

Lavender was the second-leading freshman scorer (17.6 ppg) and third-leading freshman rebounder (9.9 rpg) in the country and ranked among the Top 5 in the Big Ten in scoring, rebounding and FG percentage (.513). She recorded 13 double-doubles and scored in double-figures in all 31 games.

The Cleveland native set Ohio State freshman records for field goals (232) and rebounds (306) in a season while her 306 rebounds is tied for second all-time with Jessica Davenport who pulled down 306 during her senior season in 2006-07. Lavender averaged the second-most points per game by a freshman in Ohio State history with 17.6 ppg and set an Ohio State freshman record with 36 points including 16 rebounds in the win at Penn State Feb. 28.

In mid-January, the Wooden Award Committee will release the Midseason Top 20 list, followed in March by the National Ballot, consisting of approximately 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Women’s Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round during the NCAA Tournament.

The 33rd annual Wooden Award ceremony, which will include the announcement of the Men’s and Women’s Wooden Award, and the presentation of the Wooden Award All-American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award to Rick Barnes from The University of Texas, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club in April, 2009.

About the John R. Wooden Award
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. 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. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), and last year’s recipients, Kevin Durant of Texas and Candace Parker of Tennessee (`07 and `08).

Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the All-American recipients as well as sent over 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the awards name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All-Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on the Friday prior to the John R. Wooden Award Ceremony.

The Race for the Wooden Award is on! Follow the candidates and get the latest news throughout the season by logging on to www.WOODENAWARD.com. For more information on the John R. Wooden Award, please contact the Wooden Award staff via phone at 213-630-5231 or email at woodenaward@laac.net.