RICHMOND, Va. – John Wooden. Muhammad Ali. Wayne Gretzky. Michael Jordan. Arthur Ashe. Dwayne Wade. All have been honored as Sports Illustrated's prestigious "Sportsman of the Year."
The VCU men's basketball team has a chance to join that historic group after the Rams were nominated for the high honor by Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis, a long time writer for SI and reporter for CBS during the NCAA Tournament.
After much scrutiny by the media after VCU received an at-large bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the Rams reeled off five straight impressive victories through BCS powers USC then Georgetown then Purdue then Florida State and finally top-seeded Kansas to earn the school's first-ever trip to the Final Four.
Davis covered the Black & Gold through much of the tournament and explained why his nomination was saved for Coach Smart and crew in this column.
Others nominated for this year's award include NBA stars Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant, USA women's soccer star Abby Wambach and golfer Ryo Ishikawa. The SI writers and editors will select their winner who will be announced on December 6th.
Meanwhile, Smart and his new crew, the 2011-12 Rams, will be back on the hardwood for the first time since April when they host California University (Pa.) on Thursday night at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Game time on Broad Street is set for 7:30 p.m.