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Associated Press

Dwyane Wade became the first Marquette player to earn first-team AP All-America honors since Butch Lee in 1978.

"What makes it that much more special is because we're in the Final Four and I get to celebrate it while we're playing," Wade said. "I'm not at home getting this award. I'm still playing, so this is great."

Wade was informed by coach Tom Crean of the award while the Golden Eagles were on their bus heading to Tulane University to practice.

"He was really pumped," Crean said. "It was neat."

"I was just honored, knowing all the people who have gotten it before me turned out to be some great players like Michael Jordan and such," Wade said. "So, I'm just happy to have my name among them."

The 6-foot-4 Wade averaged 21.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists to lead the Golden Eagles to the Conference USA championship, and then to the school's first Final Four since coach Al McGuire's team won the national title in 1977.

Wade, whose last 60 minutes of basketball have been some of the most spectacular in Marquette's storied history, seems to have loosened up as the national attention has increased on the junior guard who will lead the Golden Eagles against Kansas on Saturday at the Superdome.

"You always want to be in this situation, so while you're in it, you might as well just breath in the moment," he said.

"Be excited about it and don't worry about the distractions. You've just got to get locked in."

Wade's All-America honors also thrilled Crean, who was the only Division 1 coach to heavily recruit him out of Richards High School in Robins, Ill.

"That's an incredible honor," Crean said. "He's had some great honors in the two years he was here and that one certainly is as great as any because that's such an honor to be voted for such a prestigious award."

Louisville guard and Madison native Reece Gaines earned third-team AP All-America honors. Wisconsin senior Kirk Penney won honorable mention for the AP All-America team.

David West became the first Xavier player to earn AP All-America honors Thursday as the leading vote-getter on the 2002-03 team.

The three-time Atlantic 10 player of the year was joined on the first team by fellow seniors Nick Collison of Kansas and Josh Howard of Wake Forest, along with Wade and sophomore T.J. Ford of Texas.

Collison, Wade and Ford play Saturday in the Final Four.

The 6-foot-9 West, a second-team All-American last year, averaged 20.3 points and 12.0 rebounds for the Musketeers, leading them to a Top 10 ranking and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.

West, the only preseason All-American to earn the postseason honor, received 64 first-team votes and 344 points from the 72-member national media panel that selects the weekly AP Top 25. Each voter picked three teams and players received points on a 5-3-1 basis. The voting was done before the NCAA tournament.

The 5-10 Ford averaged 15.0 points and 7.5 assists to lead the Longhorns to a No. 1 seed in the tournament, and then to the Final Four, the school's first since 1947. An honorable mention pick as a freshman, Ford became the first Texas player to be selected for the first team since Chris Mihm in 2000.

Ford had two more first-team votes than West but finished with 343 points.

Howard was the Atlantic Coast Conference's player of the year, averaging 20 points and 8.1 rebounds to lead the Demon Deacons to their first outright regular-season league championship in 41 years and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. The 6-6 forward received 47 first-team votes and 303 points to become the first Wake Forest All-American since Tim Duncan in 1997.

Collison gives Kansas an All-American for the second straight year (Drew Gooden was selected in 2002 as a junior). The 6-9 Collison averaged 18.4 points and 9.3 rebounds, helping the Jayhawks win the Big 12 regular-season title, and earn a No. 2 seed in the tournament and a second straight Final Four appearance.

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