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Ohio State’s Evan Turner wins Wooden Award as player of year

YouTube offers the cringe-inducing footage: Ohio State star Evan Turner takes off for a two-handed slam — and awkwardly lands flat-backed on the hardwood, breaking bones in his spine.


FOR THE RECORD:
College basketball: An article in Saturday’s Sports section about Evan Turner’s winning the Wooden Award as college basketball’s best player identified John Calipari as coach of the University of Memphis. Calipari formerly coached at Memphis. He is now coach at Kentucky. —


“It was horrible,” he said of his December injury against Eastern Michigan. “I couldn’t move. But the worst thing was, I knew I was going to miss some games.”

He missed a month’s worth but came back to lead the Buckeyes to the Big Ten regular-season and conference championships, as well as the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament.

His bounce-back continued Friday at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, where he won the John R. Wooden Award as college basketball’s player of the year, his third such award after winning the Associated Press player of the year award and the Naismith Award.

Tuner received 3,715 points from the balloting committee, beating Kentucky’s John Wall (3,331), Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson (1,871), Kansas’ Sherron Collins (1,751) and West Virginia’s Da’Sean Butler (1,691).

“It’s definitely a great honor,” Tuner said. “Thank God for basketball, and thank God for everybody else.”

Turner announced Tuesday that he will skip his senior season to make himself available for the NBA draft, and the likely lottery pick told his mother, Iris James, who was in the crowd Friday, “You’ve been taking care of me, now I’m going to take care of you.”

Connecticut center Tina Charles won the women’s award one day after she was chosen by the Connecticut Sun with the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft and three days after winning an NCAA championship.

Her one-point voting edge (252-251) over teammate Maya Moore was the closest in the award’s history.

Tournament talk

Speculation about whether the men’s NCAA tournament will expand from 65 to 96 teams has reached peak levels. Los Angeles Athletic Club President Steve Hathaway said he is fine either way, but the event’s emcee, Tommy Hawkins, who played in the tournament when he starred at Notre Dame in the late 1950s, isn’t.

“You have to be careful about watering down your product,” he said.

Florida Coach Billy Donovan, who received the John R. Wooden Award’s Legends of Coaching honor Friday, is for it.

“If you could be in the locker room with those teams when they didn’t get in, we’d have more people say, ‘We need to let more teams in,’ ” he said.

Memphis Coach John Calipari wants two conditions: “If we’re going to go to 96 teams, eliminate league tournaments,” he said. “Give the non-BCS half of the teams that are coming in, give them 16 of the 32.”

The players had mixed feelings. Johnson voted yea: “It would be good for teams that never played in the tournament, just to get a chance to play,” he said

Wall voted nay: “It’s taking away from the teams that are working hard to get themselves an NCAA bid,” he said.

baxter.holmes@latimes.com


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