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Lillard named NBA Rookie of the Year

PORTLAND (ABC 4 Sports) - Former Weber State star Damian Lillard became the first player from any of the local colleges to be named the NBA Rookie of the Year.
PORTLAND (ABC 4 Sports) - Former Weber State star Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers was unanimously voted the NBA Rookie of the Year. Lillard totaled 605 points as he received all 121 first-place votes from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada.

Among rookie players, Lillard ranked first in scoring (19.0 ppg), assists (6.5 apg) and minutes (38.6 mpg). He led the entire league in minutes played.

"I kind of figured I was ahead," Lillard said. "But I ain't going to say I thought I had it locked up."

He was the only one.

Lillard, the sixth overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, made a clean sweep of the Kia NBA Rookie of the Month Award in the Western Conference this season. He set an NBA rookie record by making 185 three-point field goals, surpassing the 166 triples made by Golden State's Stephen Curry during his 2009-10 rookie campaign.

Lillard has always played with a chip on his shoulder since high school, and used his critics as motivation.

"Everybody was saying, 'Oh, he went to Weber State, he's only 6-2, he's not really that athletic, he didn't play against competition,'" said Lillard. "Anything they could think of to put an end to me, that was what they were saying. That wasn't anything new to me. In a press conference back in school, I told the crowd there that I wanted to be rookie of the year, and some people might have thought I was crazy. But now, here I am getting this award. I'm not surprised by it. That's not meant to be a cocky statement, but I'm not surprised because I know that I put the work in to be in this position."

Lillard, who started all 82 games for Portland this season, has always had confidence in his game. Not highly recruited out of high school in Oakland, Weber State head coach Randy Rahe knew Lillard had the work ethic to become one of the greats.

"Every summer he made a jump," Rahe said. "Every summer he took his weaknesses and he spent everyday in the gym to improve. It's a proud day for us, it's a proud day for Weber State University, it's just a great success story. Everything that has happened to him, he's earned every bit of it. Nothing has been given to him, and that's a testament to the person that he is."

Rahe has already used Lillard as a recruiting tool at Weber State.

"Oh, we're riding him so hard right now, and we have been for quite a while," Rahe said with a smile. "He has no idea. It's terrific for recruiting because he is proof that no matter where you play, you can still reach your goals."

Lillard is just the 4th player in NBA history to win the award unanimously, joining Ralph Sampson (1984). David Robinson (1990) and Blake Griffin (2011).


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