Nov. 7, 2003
Atlanta, Ga. – Notre Dame basketball standouts Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) and Chris Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) are among 30 female and male preseason candidates named to the 2003-04 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atanta Tip-Off Club.
The Naismith Awards program, now in its 36th year, honors the outstanding male and female college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball.
The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.
Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-3rd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.
The Naismith Award is the latest in a series of preseason honors for the Batteast. She was named a preseason All-American by both the John R. Wooden Women’s Award and Street & Smith’s magazine, and she also was selected to the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List. Most recently, she was chosen as a first-team all-BIG EAST choice, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches.
Thomas, an honorable mention Associated Press All-America selection as a sophomore, was among the top-30 candidates last year for the Wooden Award and also was a finalist for the Naismith and USBWA/Oscar Robertson player-of-the-year awardsfinalist. He was Notre Dame’s second-leading scorer during the 2002-03 campaign with an 18.7 scoring average. For the second straight season, Thomas led the Irish in assists with 6.9 assists per game and ranked eighth nationally in that category. Thomas is the only player in school history to dish off 200-plus assists in consecuitve seasons (236 in ’02-’03 and 252 in ’01-’02). He became the 42nd player in Notre Dame history to score 1,000 points and is just the seventh player in school history to reach the mark in only his second season.
A second-team all-BIG EAST honoree in ’03, he scored 20-plus points on 15 occasions and registered four double-doubles as he helped Notre Dame to a 24-10 record and its first Sweet 16 appearance since 1987. Thomas led the Irish in scoring in their three NCAA tournaement contests with a 21.3 scoring average. His 488 career assists at Notre Dame ranks fifth all-time and he owns career marks in assist average (7.3) and free throw percentage (.879).
Thomas also is among the top 50 candidates for the ’03-’04 John R. Wooden Award. In addition, he was a unanimous preseason first-team all-BIG EAST selection.