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Best Local Athlete

Mike Bibby

READERS' PICK: Lessee...this guy created a frenzied, sold-out gymnasium here in Tucson when he was still a high-school star in Phoenix! When his Shadow Mountain High team traveled down the interstate for a game at (and loss to) Salpointe Catholic, it foreshadowed the amount of enthusiasm this shy, unassuming, nasty-skilled kid could generate. All he did was lead the University of Arizona to its first national title in men's basketball as a freshman. Then he made every All-American team as a sophomore, leading the UA back to the Elite Eight. He was expected to be the UA's first-ever Number One NBA draft pick, but at the last minute he slipped to second after the dolts in the Clippers front office saw visions of Hakeem Olajuwon in the form of Michael Olowakandi. Though we adore Sean Elliott, Bibby could be the greatest former Cat ever in the NBA.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: This is star power. Despite playing only a handful of games over the past two seasons due to nagging injuries, Sean Elliott still grabs a large number of votes in this category. This will be his 10th season in the NBA. (And doesn't that just make your arteries harden a bit?) He's looking for a return to the form which made him a two-time All-Star, and we're all behind him.

CLUE IN: With all due respect to Mike Bibby and Ortege Jenkins, the most dominant athlete on the UA campus last year was a diminutive package of nuclear explosiveness by the name of Nancy Evans. The pitcher for the UA women's softball team was the national Player of the Year--an honor she probably deserved the year before as well, when she single-handedly pitched the Cats to the second straight national title, and their fifth in the '90s. Evans won 30-something games as a pitcher last year, but it will be the image of her face after the heartbreaking loss to Fresno State in the championship game which will be etched in our hearts for many seasons to come.

Case History

1997 Winner: Sean Elliott
1996 Winner: Kerri Strug

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