Frank Kaminsky of national runner-up Wisconsin and Breanna Stewart of three-time national champion Connecticut won the John R. Wooden Award as national college basketball players of the year Friday night.
They received their trophies during the first College Basketball Awards nationally televised show from Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles.
For Kaminsky, it was the last in a raft of player of the year awards the senior center picked up this season. His name was announced by Greg Wooden, a grandson of the late UCLA coach. Earlier in the evening, Kaminsky accepted the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year trophy from the retired Lakers star.
“It's been an unbelievable journey. I never thought I'd be in this position,” said Kaminsky, who barely played his first two years in college. “It's awesome being here.”
Kaminsky led the Badgers to the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles, and the NCAA Tournament championship game, where they lost to Duke after upsetting undefeated and No. 1 Kentucky in the semifinals. He averaged 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 blocks.
He named camaraderie and the relationships he made on the team as two of his favorite memories.
“Obviously, the basketball was fun, too,” said Kaminsky, who is the first Badgers player to win the Wooden Award.
He received 3,385 points in voting from nearly 1,000 national college basketball experts and online fan voting.
Jahlil Okafor of Duke finished second with 3,060 points. Willie Cauley-Stein of Kentucky was third at 2,361. Jerian Grant of Notre Dame finished fourth at 1,870, and D'Angelo Russell of Ohio State was fifth at 1,583.
Kaminsky was accompanied by his parents and coach Bo Ryan. Asked about playing for his veteran coach, Kaminsky cited Ryan's sense of humor and “how mean he can be” as memorable traits.
“It's so awesome to look back at everything we accomplished,” he said. “I'm so grateful to the University of Wisconsin for helping me along that journey.”
On the women's side, Stewart accepted her trophy from retired UCLA star and Wooden family friend Ann Meyers Drysdale.
“To win an award with John Wooden's name on it is an unbelievable honor,” she said. “It just shows a lot of hard work pays off.”
Stewart averaged 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists for the Huskies, who finished 38-1 and won their games by an average of 40.6 points. The junior has won the national title every year of her college career.
Stewart received 469 points. Jewell Loyd of Notre Dame was second at 440. Tiffany Mitchell of South Carolina finished third at 296, followed by Nina Davis of Baylor with 239. Stewart's teammate, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, was fifth at 234.
Stewart is the fourth winner from Connecticut, joining Maya Moore in 2009 and 2011 and Tina Charles in 2010.
Other winners were:
—D'Angelo Russell of Ohio State, Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year. The freshman led the Buckeyes into the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Arizona in the third round.
—Delon Wright of Utah, Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year. The senior helped the Utes reach the final 16 of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to eventual national champion Duke.
—Stanley Johnson of Arizona, Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year. The freshman led the Wildcats with 13.8 points. He helped them reach the West Regional final of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Wisconsin and fell a game short of the Final Four for the second straight year.
—Montrezl Harrell of Louisville, Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year. The junior helped the Cardinals reach their fifth NCAA regional final in eight years, where they lost to Michigan State in overtime. He played on Louisville's 2013 national championship team and is headed to the NBA draft.
—Steve Fisher of San Diego State, Legends of Coaching. Fisher has guided the Aztecs to the NCAA Tournament eight times. The award is given to a coach who exemplifies Wooden's success and personal integrity.