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Jan. 27, 2010

BOSTON (MA) -- CollegeInsider.com will pay tribute to former Arizona and Iowa head coach Lute Olson with the creation of the Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award.

“Coach Olson has always emphasized the team concept and this award will recognize an outstanding player that took his team to greater heights,” says Joe Dwyer, co-founder of CollegeInsider.com. “Coach Olson has always been a good friend to CollegeInsider.com so we are obviously very excited about the creation of this annual award.”

Olson won 780 games in 34 seasons as a head coach, 24 of which were spent at the University of Arizona. During that stretch he led the Wildcats to 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, 23 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, four Final Four appearances and a National Championship in 1997.

Olson inherited a program that was 4-24 prior to his arrival in 1983. He would turn Arizona into a National power.

“I am honored to have an outstanding college basketball player recognized as the Lute Olson Player of the Year,” says Olson. “I look forward to working with the voting panel to select a player who is not only a valuable member of his team but is also an individual with great character and commitment that extends beyond the basketball court.”

At Arizona alone, 20 of Olson’s players earned a total of 61 All-America accolades. Additionally, Arizona players have earned all-Pacific-10 Conference honors 47 times since 1984. He has produced 53 NBA Draft picks, including 32 at Arizona. No school in the Pac-10 has produced as many first round picks in the last 25 years than Arizona's 14. Since the NBA Draft was shortened to two rounds in 1989, Arizona leads the nation with 31 total selections. Fourteen of those selections were first-rounders, including ten Lottery Picks.

While well-known for his accomplishments at Arizona, Olson had established himself as a winner long before turning around the fortunes of U of A.

After graduating from Augsburg College (Minnesota) in 1956, Olson had five years of prep coaching in Minnesota before moving west where he coached for six years in Anaheim and Huntington Beach, Calif., high schools.

From there he moved on to Long Beach City College where he won three league titles and the 1971 state junior college crown. He was the conference coach of the year in three of his four seasons. Olson followed that with a one-year stint as the head coach at Long Beach State (1973-74), where he led the 49ers to a 24-2 record. One year later he was hired as the head coach at the University of Iowa.

Olson spent nine seasons in Iowa City (1975-1983). He took the Hawkeyes to the NCAA five straight times including a Final Four trip in 1980 and left as the then-winningest coach in school history (168-90).

Olson is one of just 25 head coaches in NCAA history to win 700 or more games (all divisions). He owns a winning percentage of .736 and is the all-time winningest coach in Arizona history with 589-187 record (.759). He was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year seven times. Olson also has guided Arizona to 20 consecutive 20-win seasons, and is one of only three coaches in NCAA history to record 29 or more 20-win seasons.

In 2002 Olson was selected for enshrinement into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

“This a well-deserved honor for Lute,” says former Georgia head coach Hugh Durham. “Lute accomplished so much during his career and he coached many great players so it’s terrific to see a National Player of the Year Award in his name."

The Lute Olson Award will be presented annually to the nation’s top Division I player who has played at least two seasons with his respective team. Freshmen and first-year transfers are not eligible.

The 30-member voting panel, includes Tom Crean (Indiana), Jordan Hill (New York Knicks), Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers), Steve Kerr (Phoenix Suns), Todd Lickliter (Iowa), Jim Livengood (UNLV), Josh Pastner (Memphis), Lorenzo Romar (Washington), Damon Stoudamire (Memphis Grizzlies) and Jason Terry (Dallas Mavericks).







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