The Naismith Trophy History
Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, founder of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is awarded annually to the male and female college basketball players of the year. First awarded in 1969 to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Naismith Trophy was sculpted by Marty C. Dawe of Atlanta and has become the most prestigious national honors awarded each year to the top men’s and women’s college basketball players in the nation.
Each year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, vote on player performance to ultimately select the winners.
Unique among national awards of this caliber, the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T, allows fans to contribute an unprecedented 25 percent of the final vote for the men’s and women’s players of the year and the men’s and women’s coaches of the year using the text messaging functions on their cellular telephones.
Established in 1987, the Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year Award and the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award were originally given to the coaches of the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I Tournament champions. In 1989, the governing board changed the selection criteria to the voting process used today. Each year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors first votes to compile a top-25 list of coaches for each award. Then, through additional votes, the list is narrowed down to four and finally the eventual winner.
Also in 1987, to honor the nation’s best male and female high school basketball players, the Naismith Trophy Male High School Player of the Year and the Naismith Trophy Female High School Player of the Year were established. Each honor is selected annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club board of selectors. The board votes to compile a top-10 list of players from across the country for both awards. The winners are then selected by a board vote.