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Sports RJ Barrett named NCAA’s top guard at College Basketball Awards

Duke's RJ Barrett, left, hugs Zion Williamson after Duke defeated Florida State on March 16, 2019. Barrett won the Jerry West Award as the nation’s top shooting guard at the College Basketball Awards on April 12, 2019.

The Associated Press

Canadian RJ Barrett of Duke has won the Jerry West Award as the nation’s top shooting guard at the College Basketball Awards on Friday.

Teammate Zion Williamson of Duke and Sabrina Ionescu of Oregon won the John R. Wooden Awards as the nation’s top men’s and women’s players of the year.

Barrett was presented with the trophy Friday night by its namesake West during the nationally televised show in Los Angeles.

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Barrett beat out Justin Wright-Foreman of Hofstra, Carsen Edwards of Purdue, Jarrett Culver of Texas Tech and Kyle Guy of national champion Virginia..

Williamson insisted he doesn’t know if he’s going to declare for the NBA draft and leave Duke early.

Then his words seemingly betrayed him.

After accepting his award, he rattled off memories from his freshman year.

“Just being around each other on and off the court because it was more than basketball,” Williamson said during the nationally televised show. “The brotherhood is something real. The bond we had built is second to none so I know I’m going to miss that.”

Oops.

Asked for the second time on the show if he was leaving early, he replied, “Like I said before, I don’t know.”

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Williamson is the sixth player from Duke to win the award named for the late UCLA coach, who won a record 10 NCAA championships.

Williamson’s trophy cabinet is already overstuffed. He has collected numerous awards — including The Associated Press player of the year — for his efforts in leading the Blue Devils to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. They lost 68-67 to Michigan State, denying themselves a trip to the Final Four.

Earlier, Williamson won the Karl Malone power forward trophy.

“I don’t regret nothing about this season,” he said. “I enjoyed every moment of it.”

Ionescu of Oregon was a surprise winner of the women’s Wooden Award. She and Williamson shared the spotlight during the fifth annual ceremony at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles.

Her mouth dropped open when her name was announced. The NCAA Division I leader in career triple-doubles with 18, she led the Ducks on their first-ever Final Four run. The 21-year-old point guard plans to return for her senior year.

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“This award isn’t won alone, so this goes out to my team, my family, my coaches, and everyone that made this possible,” Ionescu said. “Growing up with two brothers, it wasn’t easy. They never took it easy on me. We fought all the time. We played in the yard, and so this goes to them. They pushed me to my limits all the time.”

Ionescu beat out Connecticut’s Napheesa Collier, Asia Durr of Louisville, Iowa’s Megan Gustafson and Teaira McCowan of Mississippi State.

Gustafson had earned several post-seasonhonours, including AP player of the year for leading the nation in scoring for the second straight season.

Other winners were:

— Rui Hachimura of Gonzaga, Julius Erving small forward award

— Ethan Happ of Wisconsin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar centre award

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— Ja Morant of Murray State, Bob Cousy point guard award

All of the award namesakes were on hand to present their trophies except Cousy, who is 90.

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger received the Wooden Legends of Coaching award from Steve Henson, his former player at Kansas State and current Texas-San Antonio coach.

Kruger is 160-105 in eight seasons with the Sooners. He’s the first Division I coach to guide five different schools to the NCAA Tournament.

The individual awards were decided by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee.

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