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Nov. 19, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – University of Virginia senior forward/center Travis Watson (Brookneal, Va.) is one of 36 candidates for the second annual Senior CLASS Award as announced by the award’s organizing committee. The senior CLASS Award – an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School – is presented annually to the nation’s senior player-of-the-year for NCAA Division I men’s and women’s basketball.

The formation of the Senior CLASS Award was announced last season and was developed in response to the recent trend of college basketball players leaving college early to turn professional. The inaugural award winners were Juan Dixon of Maryland and Sue Bird of Connecticut.

The “Players to Watch” on the men’s side include representatives from 15 different conferences, nine of which have multiple players on the list. In addition to Watson, Steve Blake of Maryland, Josh Howard of Wake Forest, and Dahntay Jones of Duke represent the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Selection criteria is based on a number of factors, the most important being that the recipient must have exhausted his four years of eligibility and have fulfilled his commitment to his respective university. In addition, the recipient must be working toward his degree, be in good academic standing and be of sound moral character.

The names of the 10 finalists will appear on the official ballot during the national voting process in March. The winners will be announced during the respective NCAA Final Four events in March.

Watson, 6-8, is a three-year starter for the Cavaliers. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.7 rebounds a game last season, and earned second-team All-ACC honors for the second consecutive year. Watson led the ACC in four categories last season, including double-doubles (17), rebounding (9.7 rpg.), offensive rebounds (3.43 pg.), and defensive rebounds (6.29 pg.). He is averaging 12.5 points and 9.0 rebounds a game in 88 contests during his Virginia career.

Watson was named to the 2002-03 Wooden Award Preseason All-American Basketball Team and is a preseason Naismith Award candidate. Watson is also a third-team preseason All-America selection by Street & Smith’s, and rated sixth nationally at center in Lindy’s preseason basketball magazine. He was picked preseason ACC Player of the Year by as well.

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