Two weeks after receiving the most votes of any college basketball player in the country in the Associated Press All-America team balloting, Maryland's Joe Smith will be named today as the Associated Press Player of the Year for 1994-95.
The 6-foot-10 sophomore, who led the Terrapins to a 26-8 season and their second straight Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA tournament, will be honored in absentia today at a luncheon in Seattle, site of this year's Final Four.
According to published reports, Smith also will receive the United Press International Player of the Year award. Smith becomes the first sophomore to be named AP's Player of the Year since Virginia's Ralph Sampson in 1981.
According to an athletic department spokesman at Maryland, Smith will not travel to Seattle because of his class schedule. Maryland coach Gary Williams also will remain in College Park on the advice of his doctors. Williams, who was sidelined for the last week of the regular season and the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament because of pneumonia, will miss his first Final Four since 1971.
"This is the kind of year where as a coach, even if your team doesn't make it, you want to be out there," said Williams, whose team was in the AP's top 10 for all but one week of the regular season. The Terps ended their season eight days ago with a 99-89 defeat to Connecticut in the West Regional semifinals at the Oakland Coliseum.
Smith, who led the ACC in rebounding and scoring while being named its Player of the Year, was named the Ban-Naismith Player of the Year last week by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club. Smith beat out some of the same players for the AP award, including seniors Ed O'Bannon of UCLA and Shawn Respert of Michigan State.
In another development, Maryland has given permission to the University of Delaware to talk with assistant coach Art Perry about its head coaching vacancy. The job was left open by the recent resignation of Steve Steinwedel.
Perry, who has been at Maryland for four years and was previously an assistant at Old Dominion and Rutgers, was unavailable for comment.