Raymar Morgan And Drew Neitzel Named To Naismith Award Watch List

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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State men’s basketball sophomore Raymar Morgan and senior Drew Neitzel are two of 50 players nationwide to earn a spot on the 2007-08 Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T preseason candidate watch list. Neitzel was also selected one of the top 50 preseason candidates for the 2007-08 John R. Wooden Award.

In 2006-07, Neitzel averaged a team-best 18.1 points per game, ranking fourth in the Big Ten in scoring. He scored 20 or more points in 17 games. He made 114-of-277 3-point attempts, ranking as the second-best single-season total for made 3-pointers in MSU history. He led the Big Ten in free-throw percentage (.879) and 3-point field goals made per game (3.26 pg), while ranking second in minutes played per game (35.69 mpg), fourth in scoring (18.1 ppg), fifth in assists (4.31 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.84) and seventh in 3-point field-goal percentage (.412). Neitzel earned The Associated Press honorable mention All-America honors, and was named a second-team All-American by both Dick Vitale and CBS Sportsline.com. Additionally, he became MSU’s first All-Big Ten first team honoree since 2004.

This past summer, Neitzel earned a spot on the USA Pan American Games Team. He has also collected his share of preseason accolades, earning first-team All-America honors from Athlon Sports College Basketball, Basketball Times, Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook and Dick Vitale.

Morgan had a strong freshman campaign, finishing as MSU’s second-leading scorer at 11.7 points per game and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. He missed seven games with a stress reaction in his right shin, but scored in double figures in 22 of his last 28 games. He closed out his freshman season on a strong note, averaging 14.0 points over the last 10 games. Collegehoops.net selected him as an honorable mention pick to its All-Freshman Team.

This summer, Morgan played with the USA Basketball U19 World Championship Team that collected a silver medal, averaging 9.3 points and 4.3 rebounds for Team USA. He was named to Dick Vitale’s Preseason All-Rolls Royce Fourth Team.

The Atlanta Tipoff Club has presented the Naismith Trophy since UCLA’s Lew Alcindor first won the award in 1969. The Naismith watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its preseason criteria on player performances from last season and expectations for the 2007-08 season. In January, the Naismith Trophy voting academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, will narrow its preseason list to the Top 30 players in the nation. Those players, and others who distinguish themselves throughout the season, will be eligible for the final ballot in March. Beginning in mid-February, CBS’ "AT&T at the Half" will feature a weekly Naismith Trophy update highlighting the players in contention. In April, the Naismith Trophy winner will be recognized at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in San Antonio.

Morgan and Neitzel are two of just four Big Ten players on the Naismith watch list, where they are joined by Penn State’s Geary Claxton and Indiana’s D.J. White.

The John R. Wooden Award, presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club, has been presented annually since 1976. The list of 50 preseason candidates is composed of student athletes who, based on last year’s individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for college basketball’s most coveted trophy. Players not on the preseason list are eligible for the midseason top 30 and ballot. In January, the Wooden Award committee will release the Midseason Top 30 list, followed by the distribution of the National Ballot to more than 1,000 voters in early March.

The 10-player Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the Tuesday after the "Elite Eight" round of the NCAA Tournament is completed. The 2008 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men’s and Women’s John R. Wooden Award, the Wooden Award All-American Teams, and the Legends of Coaching Award to recipient Pat Summitt of the University of Tennessee, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club the weekend of April 11-13, 2008. The top five male and female finalists will be invited to Los Angeles for the Award’s ceremony and will receive a contribution from The Los Angeles Athletic Club for their university’s general scholarship fund. One of these five players will be named the John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year at a live televised announcement from The Club where he is awarded the prestigious five-figured bronze trophy.

Neitzel and White are the only Big Ten players on the preseason list for the Wooden Award. Last season, Neitzel was one of 22 players to appear on the final ballot for the Wooden Award.

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