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Players of the Year


Feb. 13, 2006

What a thrill I had this past week. That's right, I got paid to work and watch two of the game's best players, J.J. Redick of Duke and Gonzaga's Adam Morrison. Mickey is my boss and giving me assignments to see these two guys, well, thanks! I recently read that Mike Lupica said Redick is the most fun to watch of anyone in college or the NBA. It was a thrill to watch these guys.

I can tell you Redick plays with such passion and feeling, he is such a competitor. I have said it many times that in my 27 years, I have not seen a kid take this much verbal and physical abuse. All he does is respond.

It was thrilling to travel to Spokane, Wash., to watch Mr. Morrison. The fans at The Kennel were rocking and rolling. We got into the mood so much that my partner (Brad Nessler) and I put on Morrison moustaches! That's right, the Zag fans don the 'stache like Morrison has. Down the stretch against Stanford, Gonzaga needed every one of his points to pull out the "W". He was PTP'er.

Redick and Morrison both want the ball in crunch time, and they make big shots and big plays.

The big talk all season has involved Player of the Year honors. Obviously Redick's resume has games against more high-profile, big-name schools in the prestigious ACC. Morrison doesn't have that luxury, but he has responded -- go ask Michigan State and Washington after he put up 43 points against both squads!

It would be a shame if one of these kids did not get a gold trophy. In fact, if one doesn't, I may present the Dickie V. PTP'er award and give it to the kid who is left out. That's how talented and effective both guys have been. They have made college basketball so much fun this season. NBA teams that pass on either kid are making a mistake.

Will we see split awards? It has happened several times in the past. Here are a few examples:

1981: Virginia's Ralph Sampson won awards from Associated Press, U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Naismith Award. Danny Ainge of BYU won Wooden Award and National Association of Basketball Coaches Award.

1985: Chris Mullin of St. John's won , U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Wooden Award. Patrick Ewing of Georgetown won the Associated Press honor, the Naismith Award and National Association of Basketball Coaches Award.

1988: Bradley's Hersey Hawkins won awards from Associated Press and U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Danny Manning of Kansas won the Wooden Award, Naismith Award and National Association of Basketball Coaches Award.

1989: Arizona's Sean Elliott won from Associated Press, the Wooden Award and the National Association of Basketball Coaches Award. Duke's Danny Ferry won the Naismith and U.S. Basketball Writers Association honor.

1991: LSU's Shaquille O'Neal won from Associated Press and UPI, while UNLV's Larry Johnson won the Wooden, Naismith, writers and coaches honors.

It would be great to see each guy get awards, a piece of gold that says Most Outstanding Player for this college hoop season!

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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