Aztecs’ Jamaal Franklin named to Naismith list

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – San Diego State junior Jamaal Franklin and UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett are among the top 30 candidates for the Naismith Award, the Atlanta Tip-Off Club announced this week. The Mountain West is one of eight conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, OVC, Pac-12, WCC) with multiple individuals on the preseason list.

The top 30 candidates were selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances to this point in the 2012-13 men’s college basketball season. In late March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will narrow down the list to four finalists. The Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year, presented by AT&T, will be awarded on April 7, 2013 in Atlanta.

Franklin, a guard from Hawthorne, Calif., is leading the Aztecs in scoring (17.2), rebounding (9.1), assists (3.2) and steals (1.5), and is one of two players in the nation leading his team in all four categories.

Bennett, a forward from Brampton, Ontario, is the top scorer (17.0) and rebounder (8.4) for the Runnin’ Rebels. The preseason MW Freshman of the Year, Bennett averages 27.1 minutes played per game, and has started all 28 games this season for UNLV.

For the ninth consecutive year, fans will have the opportunity to text their votes for the player of their choice and help determine the 2013 Naismith Trophy winner. Voting will open to fans on Monday, March 25. Naismith Trophy presenting sponsor, AT&T, is making the voting open to the other wireless carriers, enabling even more fans to participate.

Notable former Naismith Trophy winners are: Bill Walton (1972, 73, 74); Ralph Sampson (1981, 82, 83); Michael Jordan (1984) and Kevin Durant (2007), as well as former Mountain West players Andrew Bogut and Jimmer Fredette. The Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is the most prestigious award presented annually to college basketball’s best player.