Aug. 7, 2003
Notre Dame, Ind. - Junior point guard Chris Thomas (Indianapolis, Ind.) and sophomore forward Torin Francis (Roslindale, Mass.) are one of 50 candidates named to the 2003-04 John R. Wooden Award Preseason All-America Team. The 50 candidates were selected by the Wooden Award Preseason All-America Committee.
The Irish duo were among 11 BIG EAST players named to the team, the most of any confernce. The two other teams who placed two players on the team were Connecticut (Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor) and Syracuse (Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick).
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).
Francis was a member of the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team after averaging 11.1 points and a team-leading 8.4 rebounds. He started all 34 games for the Irish and registered a team-high 10 double doubles during the season. Francis averaged 9.5 points and 6.6 rebounds in 16 conference games and earned league rookie-of-the-week honors once. He was named to the BB&T Classic All-Tournament team after leading the Irish to the title in that prestigious event. Notre Dame defeated then defending national champion Maryland and '03 Final Four participant Texas en route to the crown.
Francis averaged 17.7 points and a team-high 12.4 rebounds in Notre Dame's three NCAA tournament games. He finished with a career-high 25 points and 10 rebounds against Arizona in the Irish's West regional semifinal contest. In the third game of his Notre Dame career versus Bucknell on November 22, 2002, Francis became the first freshman in Notre Dame history to record 20 rebounds in a game. He was one of 52 collegians and high school players invited to participate in the '03 USA Basketball Men's National Team trials.
The other BIG EAST players selected as candidates were: Andre Barrett (Seton Hall), Ryan Gomes (Providence), Julius Page (Pittsburgh), Darius Rice (Miami) and Craig Smith (Boston College).
The 10-player Wooden Award All-America Team will be announced on Tuesday, March 30, 2004 and one member from that squad will be awarded the Wooden Award Trophy, symbolic of the nation's "Most Outstanding Collegiate Basketball Player of Year." That announcement will be made on Saturday, April 10 and the event will be televised live from The Los Angeles Athletic Club by CBS Sports.