Award to be presented Dec. 20

SHREVEPORT, La. -- MainStay Independence Bowl officials have announced that former Southwood High School and current Duke women's basketball standout Alana Beard as their 2003 Sports Person of the Year.

The award will officially be presented to Beard when her Duke team takes on Northwestern State on Dec. 20 in the CenturyTel Center in Bossier City.

"Alana has brought great recognition to our community while representing Southwood High School, Duke University, and her country in a first-class manner," said Don Jagot, 2003 MainStay Independence Bowl Chairman.

As a Duke co-captain for the 2003-04 season, the 2003 Victor Award National Player of the Year recipient was the only current athlete named as one of the top 10 ACC women's athletes of all time. Beard ranks among the leading contenders for national player of the year honors and became only the second Duke men's or women's basketball player to register 2,000 career points in three seasons (Jason Williams).

In just three years, Beard already ranks as one of the top players of all time in the ACC and in Duke history. She owns 12 ACC Player of the Week selections, which ranks first all-time in the ACC. In the Duke career record books, Beard already ranks in the top five in 12 different categories.

"This is a great honor," Beard said. "I am very proud to have grown up in Shreveport, La., and to be associated with the MainStay Independence Bowl. Over the last number of years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to play for excellent coaches and with wonderful teammates. I wouldn't be where I am today without these special people."

Last summer, Beard led the USA Young Women National Team to the 2003 FIBA Women's Championship gold medal with a 7-1 record, and was named to the 2003 All-FIBA World Championships for Young Women Team.

As a junior during the 2002-03 season, Alana was selected the Victor Award winner and ESPN.com national player of the year. She earned unanimous Associated Press first team All-America, USBWA All-America and Kodak All-America selections. She was also named winner of the Mary Garber Award as the ACC Female Athlete of the Year, was nominated for a 2003 ESPY Award for Best Female College Athlete, and was a NCAA Final Four All-Tournament

"I think most definitely Alana is the best college player of this time and is one of the best ever in the history of the game," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "It is not just because of her offensive skills, as good as they are. It is her defense, intensity and will that have set her apart from other great players in the past.

"She is the player that has become so well-rounded and now finds a way to help her team win, whether it is with a pass, drive, outside shot or posting up."