Durant is first freshman named AP player of year

Kevin Durant wowed with his ability to effortlessly make shot after shot. Brendan Maloney/US PRESSWIRE

ATLANTA -- Kevin Durant of Texas was selected Friday as The
Associated Press' college basketball player of the year, becoming the first freshman to receive the honor.

The 6-foot-9 swingman finished fourth in the country in scoring (25.8) and rebounding (11.1) while leading the Longhorns to a 25-10 record, the Big 12 tournament championship game and the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"He carried a very young team but never looked at it that way," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "He has such a great feel for the game. He knows what he has to do to get better. He knows he has to get stronger. He is a real person. I truly believe he will make his mark not just on college basketball, but on basketball."

Durant received all but two votes for player of the year from the 72-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Senior forward Alando Tucker of Wisconsin, the Big Ten player of the year, got the other two votes.

"I just hope I'm paving the way for other freshmen, to let them know you can compete," Durant said.

Durant was a unanimous pick for the AP All-America team, and he and Ohio State center Greg Oden were just the third and fourth freshmen to be selected to the first team.

Durant was jealous of Oden, who will play Saturday against Georgetown.

"This is a great honor, but I'd rather be in the Final Four," Durant said.

Durant, the Big 12 player and freshman of the year, shot 47 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 82 percent from the free-throw line. He averaged 36 minutes per game and led the Longhorns in steals and blocked shots. He had 20 double-doubles and scored at least 30 points a Big 12-record 11 times.

In Texas' five postseason games, he averaged 28.5 points and 9.6 rebounds.

He is the first Texas player to receive the award, which was first presented in 1961.

J.J. Redick of Duke won the award last season.