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Bogut Headlines Wooden Finalists

From Associated Press

Utah’s Andrew Bogut, Illinois’ Dee Brown, North Carolina’s Sean May, Duke’s J.J. Redick and Kansas’ Wayne Simien were named finalists Tuesday for the John Wooden Award as college basketball’s player of the year.

The award will be presented April 9 at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

More than 1,000 national sportswriters and college basketball experts cast their votes, which were due Monday. Brown and May will play in the NCAA Final Four this weekend in St. Louis.

Voters chose a 10-member Wooden All-American team, with the top five vote-getters being named Wooden Award finalists.

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The other Wooden All-Americans are: Francisco Garcia of Louisville, Chris Paul of Wake Forest, Salim Stoudamire of Arizona, Hakim Warrick of Syracuse and Deron Williams of Illinois.

Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun will receive the Legends of Coaching award during the ceremony.

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Charlie Villanueva, Connecticut’s 6-foot-11, 240-pound sophomore forward, said he would skip his final two years of college eligibility to pursue an NBA career.

It will be the second time Villanueva has gone through the NBA evaluation process. Coming out of Blair Academy in Blairstown, N.J., in 2003, Villanueva made himself available for the draft but changed his mind after workouts in front of scouts.

“I knew I wasn’t ready,” Villanueva said. “I know I have to work on my body, to get stronger, but I’m 100% confident this time. I didn’t have that feeling coming out of high school.”

Villanueva led the Huskies in scoring, averaging 13.6 points and 8.3 rebounds. Scouts have praised Villanueva’s ballhandling, passing and shot-blocking skills, and have projected he will be a late first-round pick.

Villanueva is the eighth player during Calhoun’s tenure at Connecticut to leave school early for the NBA.

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St. Mary’s Coach Randy Bennett received a six-year contract extension after leading the Gaels to their first NCAA tournament berth since 1997.

The deal keeps Bennett under contract through the 2010-11 season.

Bennett, who has turned the program around since taking over in 2001, made about $130,000 this season.

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He was one of the lowest-paid coaches in the West Coast Conference.

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Eastern Michigan hired Michigan assistant Charles Ramsey to be its head coach, a university source told Associated Press. A news conference was scheduled for today. He would replace Jim Boone, whose contract was not renewed this month after going 48-96 over five seasons.


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