March 14, 2001
ATLANTA, Ga. -- Notre Dame senior Ruth Riley and Duke senior Shane Battier have been selected the 2001 Naismith College Basketball Players of the Year, it was announced today by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. Riley is the first Notre Dame women's basketball player to win the award and she joins Austin Carr (1971) as the only Irish basketball players to be selected as a Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year.
"It's a tremendous honor to be named the top player in women's basketball, and I'd like to thank the Atlanta Tipoff Club for presenting me with this prestigious award," said Riley, a first-team Associated Press All-America in 2000 and 2001. "It speaks a lot for not only myself but my coaches, teammates, family and so many other countless people who have helped through the years. Being the first women's player from Notre Dame to receive this honor demonstrates how far our program has progressed to reach a level where Notre Dame is considered one of the top programs in the country."
Riley, a 6'5" senior All-America center, the tallest player in Irish history, has reached the height of her college career by being named this year's Women's Naismith College Player of the Year. The 2001 BIG EAST player of the year has been one of the nation's leading shot-blockers the last two seasons and leads Notre Dame in career blocked shots with 351. She is a consistent shooter from the field with a field-goal percentage of .632, giving her another Irish career record. She owns a 15.5 career scoring average and has scored 1,933 career points. She has led Notre Dame to the No. 1 ranking twice this year, helping her team to a No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA tournament.
The Naismith Awards, in their 33rd year, are given in honor of the inventor of the game of basketball--Dr. James Naismith. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The Awards, including Men's and Women's College Player of the Year, Men's and Women's Coach of the Year, Male and Female Prep Player of the Year and Men's and Women's Official of the Year, are determined by a vote of the Naismith Board of Selectors. In addition, the Board of Selectors, comprised of a select group of leading basketball conches, journalists and administrators, honors a Men's and Women's Outstanding Contributor to Basketball.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club was founded in 1956 as a way for Atlantans to share in a common bond - the love and enjoyment of college basketball. It has a twofold mission: to promote continued support for the game of basketball and to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting.