GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – The Latest on preparations for the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament (all times local):
Kansas guard Frank Mason III and Gonzaga coach Mark Few have won The Associated Press player and coach of the year awards.
The awards were announced Thursday at the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona.
Mason led Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 title. He received 37 votes Thursday from the same 65-member media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25.
Few has taken the Zags to the NCAA Tournament in all 18 of his seasons there. He was a runaway winner Thursday receiving 31 votes from the same 65-member media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.
Yes, South Carolina coach Frank Martin knows all about it.
In his words, it’s 35 students, 27 desks, 18 textbooks, 180 days, and making sure all those kids get an education in that time frame.
Martin is a former high school math teacher, which he says has helped him keep things in perspective.
The game Saturday, he says, is against Gonzaga – not against the Final Four, the hugeness of the moment or the massive stadium the teams are playing in.
He says if the players do their best, that’s all he can ask. And if they do their best and come up short, he’ll have no problem with it.
South Carolina star Sindarius Thornwell is dealing with an illness two days before the Final Four.
Thornwell is not at University of Phoenix Stadium on Thursday due to what coach Frank Martin said was a “little body bug” and did not practice. Martin, who is battling a bug himself, says Thornwell is back at the hotel resting and hydrating.
The 6-foot-5 senior guard has led South Carolina to its first Final Four, practically carrying the Gamecocks by himself at times.
He’s the leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament at 26 points per game and averaging 7.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2 steals per game.
The Final Four teams have begun their preparations in Arizona for the last three games of March Madness.
South Carolina, Gonzaga, North Carolina and Oregon are in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale ahead of two semifinal games on Saturday.
Players and coaches are meeting with reporters on Thursday to talk about what’s ahead.
NCAA President Mark Emmert is also expected to speak with reporters on the heels of North Carolina moving to roll back its “bathroom bill.” State officials there hope the maneuver will help the state avoid another costly hit as the NCAA selects four years of championships for a variety of sports.
Also Thursday, The Associated Press will award its coach and player of the year awards in men’s and women’s hoops.
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