Wake Forest center Tim Duncan and Villanova guard Kerry
Wake Forest center Tim Duncan and Villanova guard Kerry Kittles, two underclassmen who turned down the riches of the NBA to return to college, tied as the leading vote-getters on The Associated Press’ preseason All-America team.
They each received 55 votes from the national media panel and were joined on the team by Connecticut guard Ray Allen, 49 votes, Massachusetts center Marcus Camby, 32, and Oklahoma forward Ryan Minor, 22.
Kansas point guard Jacque Vaughn was the next-highest vote-getter with 20.
The 6-foot-10 Duncan was the only one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s four super sophomores to return this season. The others _ Joe Smith of Maryland and Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace of North Carolina _ were the first, third and fourth players taken in the NBA draft.
Duncan, a native of the Virgin Islands, stood out among the ACC’s stellar group of centers last season, averaging 16.8 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.2 blocks, the last two figures best in the conference. He shot 59 percent from the field and certainly would have been called with his fellow ACCers if he had chosen to go pro.
``Tim is the kind of person who was going to make the right decision for himself,″ Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said. ``Now I’m confident he will also continue to improve on the court as he does what he felt best for himself off the court.″
Kittles was the Big East player of the year last season after averaging 21.4 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 41 percent from 3-point range. He, too, spent the offseson debating his basketball future, and made Philadelphia’s Main Line very happy with his decision.
``I thought he could have left, and if he had left it would have been the right thing,″ Villanova coach Steve Lappas said. ``But I think he made a very strong statement about himself and Villanova. He wants a degree and he likes where he is.″
Allen will be Kittles’ main competition for conference honors this season in the Big East, and the junior guard is coming off a summer where he was named USA Basketball’s player of the year. A true swingman, Allen averaged 21.1 points and 6.8 rebounds last season and shot 45 percent on 3-pointers.
Camby wasn’t the main man at Massachusetts last season, with Lou Roe putting his final stamp on his four-year career. This year all the attention will be on the 6-11 Camby, who has solid numbers _ 13.9 points and 6.2 rebounds _ but needs to show improved strength and stamina as a junior.
If center play is your fancy, mark down Dec. 6, when Duncan and his teammates travel to Amherst to face Camby and the Minutemen.
Minor was selected Big Eight player of the year last season after leading Oklahoma to a surprising 23-9 season under first-year coach Kelvin Sampson. The 6-7 senior averaged 23.6 points, tops in the conference, and 8.4 rebounds last season.
It was a pretty safe bet Minor would be back for his senior season as his big decision will come after this year when he has to choose between pro basketball and baseball. His fastball has been clocked at 90 mph and he hit .311 last season for the Sooners.
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