Oct. 22, 2002
Notre Dame, Ind. – Women’s basketball players Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) and men’s basketball standout Chris Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) have been named preseason candidates for the 2002-03 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
The Naismith Awards program, now in its 35th 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.
For Ratay, this year’s selection to the Naismith Preseason Watch List is her third in as many seasons. The senior guard is a two-time Associated Press honorable mention All-American and ranks ninth on Notre Dame’s career scoring list with 1,375 points. She also ranks among the top 10 in NCAA history in career three-point (.480) and free throw percentage (.867), and she is on the verge of breaking the school record for career three-point field goals made, needing just 38 treys to eclipse Sheila McMillen’s total of 249 from 1995-99.
Last season, Ratay was a first-team all-BIG EAST Conference selection after finishing third in the conference in scoring at 15.4 points per game. She also averaged a career-high 5.5 rebounds per game and ranked 15th in the nation in free throw percentage, hitting a school-record 88.2 percent of her charities. Ratay started every game for the Irish last season and has played in every Notre Dame game in her career, starting 97 of a possible 98 contests.
Batteast was named the 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-America pick after averaging 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game in her rookie season at Notre Dame. The sophomore forward ranked second in the BIG EAST in rebounding and double-doubles (11) and fifth in blocked shots (1.38 bpg.), earning second-team all-conference honors along the way. She also was a unanimous choice as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and was a six-time conference Rookie of the Week in 2001-02. Batteast is one of only four sophomores to be named to the 2002-03 Naismith Preseason Watch List.
Thomas was one of five BIG EAST players named to the 30-member preseason list. The sophomore point guard also has been named one of 50 preseason candidates for the 2003 John R. Wooden Award. Thomas, the 2002 National Freshman of the Year by Basketball Times and Basketball News and the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, averaged 15.6 points and 7.64 assists in his freshman season. He set the single-season records for assists (252) and steals (72) and steals average (2.18). In addition, his assist average, which ranked fifth nationally, also tied the school record established more than thirty years ago.
Thomas recorded the first triple double in the 96-year history of the men’s basketball program when he scored 24 points, dished off 11 assists and made a school-record 11 steals in his collegiate debut. He scored in double figures in 24 games during the season and registered seven double doubles. The six-time BIG EAST rookie-of-the-week honoree also scored 20-plus points in nine games and led the Irish in scoring on nine occasions.
Notre Dame is one of only five schools to have more than one women’s basketball player named to the Naismith Preseason Watch List, joining Duke, Kansas State, LSU and Tennessee in that select group. In addition, Notre Dame is one of 10 schools to have at least one men’s and women’s basketball player chosen for the list, and one of just three schools to have three players honored (the others are Duke and Florida).