For Weber State University’s Damian Lillard, this has been a banner year. He has broke records, led the nation in scoring and now has been recognized as a national player of the week.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association named Lillard its National Player of the Week for the week of Jan 1. The weekly honor is handed out each Tuesday throughout the season. In order to be eligible for the award, a player must be named as conference player of the week first.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 900 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball.
Lillard said that much of his success is due to his teammates.
“It’s cool,” Lillard said, “especially with it being the entire nation. All it means, though, is that I helped my team be successful. It’s a team award.”
Lillard, a 6foot-3-inch junior from Oakland, Calif., averaged 34 points, six rebounds and five assists for the week. He scored 30 points with seven rebounds, five assists and a blocked-shot in the Wildcats’ 79-71 win over Eastern Washington University last Thursday. During the game, he scored his 1,500th career point.
He followed that with 38 points, five assists and five rebounds in an 88-81 victory over Portland State University two days later.
In the game against the Vikings, Lillard scored 23 points in the first half, including a half-court 3-point shot at the buzzer to cut PSU’s lead to 51-44.
In the two games last week, he shot 47.5 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from 3-point range and 94.7 percent from the free-throw line. Following his performance last week, he was selected as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week for the fourth time this season.
Lillard leads the nation in scoring with an average of 26.3 points per game but said earlier this year that individual achievements aren’t most important to him.
Scott Bamforth, Lillard’s teammate, said that he has learned a lot from the time he has played with Lillard.
“Playing with him has been great,” Bamforth said. “He comes ready to play and compete every day whether it’s practice or a game. The main thing I have learned from him is that when you dedicate yourself to getting better every day and you focus on winning games, your personal success will come.”
Since the 1958-59 season, the USBWA has named a National Player of the Year. In 1998, the award was named in honor of the University Of Cincinnati Hall of Famer and two-time USBWA Player of the Year Oscar Robertson. It is the nation’s oldest award.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the USBWA will name finalists for the award, which is voted on by the entire membership of the USBWA. The winner of the 2012 Oscar Robertson trophy will be announced and presented by its namesake, Oscar Robertson, at the USBWA’s annual awards breakfast on Friday, March 30, in New Orleans, site of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Final Four.