Chris Duhon Named 2001 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year
Nov. 15, 2001
A pair of USA Basketball veterans, Chris Duhon (Duke / Slidell, La.) and Ayana Walker (Louisiana Tech / Houston, Texas), both of whom helped USA teams to a gold medal in 2001, were selected by the USA Basketball Executive Committee as the 2001 USA Basketball Male and Female Athletes of the Year. Duhon claimed the honor for his efforts in helping the 2001 USA World Championship For Young Men Team capture gold with a perfect 8-0 record, while Walker's 19-point, 19-rebound performance in the World University Games gold medal game helped catapult the U.S. atop the medal stand in that event.
"Chris Duhon and Ayana Walker were both members of successful USA Basketball teams this summer who earned their awards through unselfish play, hard work and dedication to their respective teams," said USA Basketball Executive Director Jim Tooley. "USA Basketball is proud of the way they conducted themselves while representing this organization and the United States. They are both talented athletes who will continue to succeed at the highest level of competition."
With the honor, Duhon and Walker not only are eligible for the 2001 U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards which will be announced in January 2002, they also enter into impressive company of previous USA Basketball honorees. In its 22nd year, the USA Basketball Athlete of the Year award has been garnered by notable athletes such as Ray Allen (1995), Teresa Edwards (1987, 1990, 1996, 2000), Michael Jordan (1983, 1984, 1992), Lisa Leslie (1993, 1998), Katrina McClain (1988, 1992), Cheryl Miller (1984, 1986), Alonzo Mourning (1990, 2000), Scottie Pippen (1992, 1996) and David Robinson (1986, 1992).
"I was shocked and surprised when I heard about the award," said Duhon. "I'm thankful for my teammates, the coaching staff, my family, everyone at Duke and most importanly, God, for letting this happen. I'm amazed to be so honored. It was a great experience playing with some of the top players in the country. It's a tremendous honor to follow in the footsteps of such great players. Some of the previous winners are the cream of the crop in the NBA. To be mentioned with those players gets me motivated to reach the level that they are now.
"It shows everyone that I've improved and didn't stay at one level of basketball. I'm working toward being a complete player and this summer was a good step in that direction. There's much more for me to do to be the kind of basketball player I want to be. I made a lot of new friends. I learned a bunch of new stuff from the USA coaching staff. Most importantly, I represented my country and we won a gold medal. I would certainly do it again."
Duhon, a 6-1 guard, was selected as the 2001 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year for his performance at the 2001 FIBA World Championship For Young Men, adding another impressive accomplishment to his growing basketball resume.
The college sophomore was named MVP of the 2001 FIBA World Championship For Young Men in Saitama, Japan, after helping lead the USA to an 8-0 record and the gold medal. Duhon started in all eight games and averaged 11.9 points a game (tied for second high on team), added a team and competition best 6.8 assists a game, a team high 1.5 steals a game and 2.9 rebounds per game. Duhon shot 46.2 percent from the field and a team second-best 40.0 percent (18-45 3pt FGs) from beyond the arc. In the USA's gold medal game versus Croatia, Duhon compiled 19 points, made 5-of-12 3-point attempts, and passed for a USA record 14 assists. In the USA's semifinals win over Argentina, he accounted for nine points, 12 assists and two steals in 38 minutes.
Capping a successful freshman season by helping Duke to the 2001 NCAA national championship, as well as 2001 Atlantic Coast Conference regular season and tournament titles, Duhon also claimed 2001 ACC Rookie of the Year honors. As a freshman in 2000-01, Duhon averaged 7.2 points and 4.5 assists a game, while ranking second in the ACC in assist to turnover ratio (2.85) and finished the season ranked fifth among ACC leaders in assists (174) and seventh in steals (77).
Duhon first competed for USA Basketball as a member of the gold medal winning South team at the 1999 USA Basketball Men's Youth Development Festival. Closing the Festival ranked 12th among all participants in scoring (12.4 ppg.), Duhon ranked second in assists (7.2 apg.) and first in steals (3.6 spg.). Duhon returned the following year to record nine points, one rebound and a team high of six assists in 25 minutes of action as a member of the 2000 USA Junior Select Team that defeated an International Select Team 98-97 in the sixth annual Hoop Summit.
"This is such a great honor," said Walker. "USA Basketball could have selected any player on that team because there were so many great players, the gold medal was a team effort in every sense. This honor is not only for myself, but for my team as well. There have been so many great players at Louisiana Tech, but coach (Leon) Barmore pointed out to me that Venus Lacey was the only other one to have earned this award, so this is also an honor for Louisiana Tech."
The leading scorer and rebounder of the 2001 USA World University Games Team averaging 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds a game, Walker opened the 2001 Games with 27 points against South Africa and recorded a double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds in the USA's quarterfinal round 89-78 victory over China. Her 19 rebounds in the gold medal game set a USA World University Games record for most rebounds in one game, bettering the previous record of 17 boards set in 1991. In addition to her stellar output of 19 points and 19 rebounds, Walker notched three blocks and two steals against host China in the gold medal game.
Named as a 2001 Women's Basketball Coaches Association/Kodak All-America honorable mention, the 6-2 center was also a unanimous selection to the 2001 All-Sun Belt Conference Team following a junior campaign that saw Walker average 16.0 points and 8.5 rebounds for Louisiana Tech. The 2001 Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year also earned 2001 Sun Belt Tournament MVP honors after averaging 18.0 points and 9.3 rebounds in Tech's run for the tournament title. Additionally, while helping Louisiana Tech to a 31-5 record and the 2001 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, Walker finished the 2000-01 season ranked eighth among all NCAA Division I leaders in blocked shots (2.4 bpg.).
The 2001 competition was Walker's second USA World University Games Team as she was a member of the 1999 USA Basketball squad which finished with a 4-2 record and won the silver medal in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, while averaging 4.3 points and 4.5 rebounds throughout the 1999 World University Games.
USA Basketball Athlete of the Year Award Recipients
Year * Female * Male
2001 * Ayana Walker * Chris Duhon
2000 * Teresa Edwards * Alonzo Mourning
1999 * Natalie Williams * Gary Payton
1998 * Lisa Leslie * Elton Brand
1997 * Chamique Holdsclaw * Earl Boykins
1996 * Teresa Edwards * Scottie Pippen
1995 * Sylvia Crawley * Ray Allen
1994 * Dawn Staley * Shaquille O'Neal
1993 * Lisa Leslie * Michael Finley
1992 * Katrina McClain * 1992 U.S. Olympic Team
1991 * Ruthie Bolton * Christian Laettner
1990 * Teresa Edwards * Alonzo Mourning
1989 * Venus Lacey * Larry Johnson
1988 * Katrina McClain * Dan Majerle
1987 * Teresa Edwards * Danny Manning
1986 * Cheryl Miller * David Robinson
1985 * Jennifer Gillom * Chuck Person
1984 * Cheryl Miller * Michael Jordan / Sam Perkins
1983 * Lynette Woodard * Michael Jordan
1982 * Cindy Noble / LaTaunya Pollard * Glenn Rivers
1981 * Denise Curry * Kevin Boyle
1980 * Carol Blazejowski * Isiah Thomas
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