Shaquille O'Neal of Louisiana State, the nation's leading rebounder at 14.7 per game, today was named winner of the Adolph Rupp Trophy as The Associated Press college basketball player of the year.
He became the fourth sophomore ever to win the award, joining UCLA's Bill Walton in 1972, DePaul's Mark Aguirre in 1980 and Virginia's Ralph Sampson in 1981. UCLA's Lew Alcindor, now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was named player of the year in 1967 as a sophomore before the Rupp Trophy was instituted.The 7-foot-1, 290-pound O'Neal was a first-team All-American after averaging 27.6 points and 5.4 blocked shots per game along with his rebounds, the highest average per game since Xavier McDaniel of Wichita State had 14.8 in 1985.
O'Neal received 206 of 582 votes in a nation-wide poll of sports writers and broadcasters conducted before the NCAA tournament.
O'Neal, who shot 63 percent from the field, spent the entire season as the butt of rumors regarding his early entry into the NBA. The San Antonio native has indicated he will return to the Tigers next season. LSU lost to Connecticut in the opening round of the NCAA tournament after being eliminated in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament with O'Neal sidelined with a fracture in his right leg.
UNLV teammates and first-team All-Americans Larry Johnson and Stacey Augmon finished second and third in the voting, respectively, with a combined total of five votes more than O'Neal managed.
Johnson, who was sixth in last year's voting as a junior, received 139 votes, while Augmon had 72.