ST. LOUIS Andrew Bogut parleyed an international basketball background into an All-American story.
The 7-footer grew up in Australia with a passion for the game nurtured by his parents, both natives of Croatia. The desire to test himself against the best convinced Bogut to attend college in the United States, a stint at Utah that lasted two years and was capped Friday by his selection as The Associated Press player of the year.
Bruce Weber, who led Illinois to its winningest season ever and a berth in the Final Four, was an overwhelming choice as AP's coach of the year.
Standing alongside the latest trophy in a growing collection, Bogut said, "I have been coached by Australian guys, European guys and American guys and they have all helped me so many ways. They all tried to make me a better player."
Bogut led Division I with 26 double-doubles in 35 games this season. He was second in rebounding at 12.2 per game and fourth in field goal percentage at 62 percent. He averaged 20.4 points per game (15th in the nation) and 2.3 assists while playing 35 minutes. He was the leading vote-getter on the AP's All-America first team.
The Utes finished 29-6, won the Mountain West Conference regular season title and advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament before losing to Kentucky.
"He is one of the special, special people I have ever met," first-year Utah coach Ray Giacoletti said. "Basketball needs players, needs people like him."
Bogut announced earlier this week that he would forgo his final two seasons at Utah and apply for the NBA draft. He's expected to be one of the top picks in June and he knows the work has just begun.
"I have to get ready, get stronger for the physical play that I'll see there," Bogut said. "I don't have any plan, like being an all-star in three years or anything like that. I know I want to get better and I'll show people how hungry I am for that."
The 20-year-old Bogut averaged 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds last summer in Athens for the Australian Olympic team. Just four years earlier he was cut from his state team in Victoria.
"He got really angry when he was cut," his father, Michael Bogut, said. "He said, 'Dad, this is the last time I'm last. Whatever it takes.' "
Bogut received 31 votes for player of the year from the 72-member national media panel that selects the AP's weekly Top 25.
J.J. Redick of Duke was second with 15 votes, and Wayne Simien of Kansas was third with nine.
Bogut is the first player from Utah to win the award and the first from the West since Arizona's Sean Elliott in 1989.
Weber's selection was the result of Illinois most-accomplished season ever. The Illini (36-1), who play Louisville in the national semifinals Saturday, were ranked No. 1 the final 15 weeks of the season, and were unanimous selections six times.Weber received 54 votes. Mike Krzyzewski of Duke was the runner-up with six, followed by Al Skinner of Boston College (5) and Lorenzo Romar of Washington (4).
AP College Basketball Player of the Year list
2005 Andrew Bogut, Utah
2004 Jameer Nelson, Saint Joseph's
2003 David West, Xavier
2002 Jason Williams, Duke
2001 Shane Battier, Duke
2000 Kenyon Martin, Cincinnati
1999 Elton Brand, Duke
1998 Antawn Jamison, North Carolina
1997 Tim Duncan, Wake Forest
1996 Marcus Camby, Massachusetts
1995 Joe Smith, Maryland
1994 Glenn Robinson, Purdue
1993 Calbert Cheaney, Indiana
1992 Christian Laettner, Duke
1991 Shaquille O'Neal, LSU
1990 Lionel Simmons, La Salle
1989 Sean Elliott, Arizona
1988 Hersey Hawkins, Bradley
1987 David Robinson, Navy
1986 Walter Berry, St. John's
1985 Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
1984 Michael Jordan, North Carolina
1983 Ralph Sampson, Virginia
1982 Ralph Sampson, Virginia
1981 Ralph Sampson, Virginia
1980 Mark Aguirre, DePaul
1979 Larry Bird, Indiana State
1978 Butch Lee, Marquette
1977 Marques Johnson, UCLA
1976 Scott May, Indiana
1975 David Thompson, N. Carolina St.
1974 David Thompson, N. Carolina St.
1973 Bill Walton, UCLA
1972 Bill Walton, UCLA
1971 Austin Carr, Notre Dame
1970 Pete Maravich, Louisiana State
1969 Lew Alcindor, UCLA
1968 Elvin Hayes, Houston
1967 Lew Alcindor, UCLA
1966 Cazzie Russell, Michigan
1965 Bill Bradley, Princeton
1964 Gary Bradds, Ohio State
1963 Art Heyman, Duke
1962 Jerry Lucas, Ohio State1961 Jerry Lucas, Ohio State
AP Player of the Year
Andrew Bogut, Utah 31
J.J. Redick, Duke 15
Wayne Simien, Kansas 9
Dee Brown, Illinois 5
Hakim Warrick, Syracuse 4