Freshmen Greg Oden, of Ohio State, and Kevin Durant, of Texas, are among the five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, presented to college basketball's outstanding player.

Others invited for the April 7 presentation at the Los Angeles Athletic Club are North Carolina sophomore Tyler Hansbrough, Texas A & M senior Acie Law IV, and Wisconsin senior Alando Tucker.

Also honored yesterday as Wooden All-Americas were UCLA junior Arron Afflalo, Oregon senior Aaron Brooks, Nevada senior Nick Fazekas, Florida junior Joakim Noah, and Kansas sophomore Brandon Rush.


* Steve Alford's defection to New Mexico might also cost Iowa a recruit for next season. Jake Kelly, a 6-6 senior at Carmel (Ind.)High School, said he might ask to be released from his letter of intent to play for the Hawkeyes so he can join Alford with the Lobos.

He said Alford, a former Indiana star, called him the day he signed with New Mexico.

He "just told me that he wanted me to come with him, and that they needed me and that he thinks they've got a good future there with some of the recruits that he thinks will follow him," Kelly told the Indianapolis Star.

He said he would make a decision after Iowa names a new coach.

"It's real confusing, there's like a lot of rules and regulations that you've got to go by, going about doing this kind of thing," Kelly said. "I thought I was going to Iowa for so long, and I just pictured myself going there, that it's hard to think I'm not going there. It's not that I'm not, but there's a possibility."

* Coach Tony Bennett is staying with Washington State, ending speculation he might jump to another school for a more prestigious job after one successful season as Cougars head coach.

Washington State went 26-8 this season and lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Vanderbilt.

* Georgia gave coach Dennis Felton a 2-year contract extension and a small raise. The extension gives Felton a 4-year contract worth $760,000 annually, a raise of $50,000.

* Demetris Nichols, who led Syracuse and the Big East in scoring, earned a spot in tonight's Annual State Farm College Slam Dunk & Three Point Championships. The senior forward from Boston will be shooting against Acie Law IV, of Texas A & M, Aaron Brooks, of Oregon, Colin Falls, of Notre Dame, Adam Haluska, of Iowa, Jarrius Jackson, of Texas Tech, Kammron Taylor, of Wisconsin, and Stephen Sir, of Northern Arizona.

* Iona agreed to buy out the final 2 years of coach Jeff Ruland's contract. Ruland, a fomrer NBA All-Star whose career included two brief stints with the 76ers, led the Gaels to three Metro Atlantic Athletic Association Conference titles and three NCAA Tournament berths in his 9-year tenure as head coach.

* Connecticut assistant coach Tom Moore is leaving to become head coach at Quinnipiac University, an official with knowledge of the deal told the Associated Press.

* Duke women's coach Gail Goestenkors interviewed for the vacancy at Texas. She has been considered the top candidate for the Texas job since Jody Conradt announced her resignation March 11, when the Longhorns missed the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year.

* University of Arkansas trustees chairman Stanley Reed said the school is waiting to hear from Texas A & M coach Billy Gillispie about the Razorbacks' vacancy.

* Oklahoma center Courtney Paris, daughter of former NFL lineman Bubba Paris, heads the AP's women's All-America team.

She was joined by North Carolina senior Ivory Latta, Tennessee sophomore Candace Parker, Duke senior Lindsey Harding, and Ohio State senior Jessica Davenport.

Temple senior Kamesha Hairston received honorable mention. She led Temple in scoring (18.9), rebounding (8.6) and steals (61) and received Atlantic 10 honors. *