By Barry Janoff
March 28, 2017: With the NCAA Div. I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments heading to their Final Four destinations this weekend — the University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale) and AT&T Center (Dallas), respectively — trophies and awards honoring the top players and coaches for the season with be front-and-center.
Among the most prestigious, the Naismith Trophy, under the auspices of the Atlanta Tipoff Club and named after basketball founding father Dr. James Naismith, will be given to the top men’s and women’s hoops players as well as the top men’s and women’s coaches, voted on by ATC’s board of selectors and this year for the first time fans (who account for 5% of the total vote).
Just in time for national attention and broadcasting, the Atlanta Tipoff Club has signed a multi-year naming Citizen Watch the title sponsor of the Naismith Men’s and Women’s College Player of the Year Awards.
In addition, Citizen Watch becomes an ATC marketing partner, with the designation as the "official watch of the Naismith Trophy."
Financial details were not released.
Werner Ladder is the official sponsor for the Naismith Men’s and Women’s College Coach of the Year trophies.
Separate Naismith Trophy awards honor the top Boy's and Girl's high school basketball players and coaches; and lifetime achievement awards are presented annually to overall contributors and college officials.
The Citizen Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year finalists are Lonzo Ball (UCLA), Josh Hart (Villanova), Frank Mason III (Kansas), and Caleb Swanigan (Purdue).
The Citizen Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year finalists are Naphessa Collier (UConn), Kelsey Plum (Washington), Katie Lou Samuelson (UConn) and A’Ja Wilson (South Carolina).
The Werner Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year finalists are Chris Collins (Northwestern), Mark Ffew (Gonzaga), Bill Self and Jay Wright (Villanova).
The Werner Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year finalists are Karen Aston (Texas), Geno Auriemma (UConn), Scott Rueck (Oregon State) and Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State).
The four finalists in each category were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, who based their selections on outstanding on-court performances during the 2016-17 college basketball season.
The Citizen Watch Naismith Men’s Trophy and the Werner Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year awards will be named on April 2 at the Naismith Awards Brunch delivered by UPS during the men’s Final Four weekend in Arizona.
The presentation will be broadcast live on the Citizen Naismith Trophy Facebook page and simulcast on Sirius XM College Sports Nation, Channel 84.
The 2017 Citizen Naismith Trophy and Werner Ladder Naismith Trophy women’s winners will be unveiled April 1 during the women’s Final Four weekend in Dallas.
Marketing support includes Citizen ads in game day media, on-site signage, digital and social media.
In 2018, the Citizen Watch Naismith Trophy will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Among other activation, Citizen is planning what it called a "Moments in Time" campaign, honoring the players and moments that shaped and established the trophy as the "most prestigious individual college basketball player award."
The campaign will culminate at the 2018 Men's Final Four in San Antonio, where all previous winners over the last 50 years Citizen Watch Naismith Trophy will feted.
Citizen currently supports young students with academic scholarships through its corporate sponsorship of the National Merit Scholarship Foundation.
"Citizen is proud now to extend its connection to college students with the Citizen Naismith Trophy Award recognizing the impressive efforts of college athletes and rewarding their sacrifices and work both on and off the court,” Eric Horowitz, U.S. managing director for Citizen Watch, said in a statement.
Among the players who have won the Naismith Trophy are Bill Walton, Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis.
"We are happy to be partnering with such a wonderful organization and hope to create together many moments that will further our common interest and passion in advancing the goals of college student athletes."
According to Eric Oberman, executive director for the Atlanta Tipoff Club, "Through this partnership we will honor our most treasured asset — former Naismith Trophy winners — while also celebrating current athletes for their passion to achieve basketball excellence."
Among the players who have won the men’s Naismith Trophy are Bill Walton (three times), Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and, most recently, Frank Kaminsky (2015) and Buddy Hield (2016).
Among the players who have won the women’s Naismith Trophy are Anne Donovan (the first award in 1983), Cheryl Miller (three times), Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Rebecca Lobo, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi (twice), Brittney Griner (twice) and Breanna Stewart (2014-15-16).
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