For immediate release 

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PORTLAND, Oregon (July 31) -- University of Oregon women’s basketball can now call its head coach the state of Oregon’s best for the first time ever. 

Kelly Graves, who led the Ducks to their first-ever Women’s Final Four appearance in April, was named the 2019 Slats Gill Sportsperson of the Year on Wednesday. The award, which began in 1958, is presented annually to the state’s most outstanding coach or administrator. 

Graves is the first UO female head coach to win the award.

Graves was a finalist for the award in 2018. He shares the 2019 honor with Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who was presented with the award on July 24. Graves and Stotts tied in the voting process and will share the award. 

Award criteria and past winners

The Oregon Sports Awards voting panel chose Graves and Stotts over fellow finalist Giovanni Savarese (Portland Timbers) and nominees Terry Boss (Oregon State men’s soccer), Rob Johnson (UO cross country/track and field) and Mark Parsons (Portland Thorns). 

Graves appeared on NBC Sports Northwest’s talk show “The Bridge” on Wednesday to accept his award. He also accepted a George Pasero Team of the Year award on behalf of the entire UO roster and coaching staff. Highlights of Graves’ interview can be accessed here.

Graves was one of two Ducks to receive individual Oregon Sports Awards. Sabrina Ionescu claimed her second consecutive Bill Hayward Female Amateur Athlete of the Year. The announcement was made by Sport Oregon and NBC Sports Northwest on Wednesday as well. 

Just five seasons into his tenure in Eugene, Graves has established himself as perhaps the greatest coach in program history. In addition to taking the Ducks to a Final Four, he guided UO to its second straight Pac-12 Regular Season Championship and Pac-12 Tournament title game appearance. 

The Ducks again finished the season with a 33-5 overall record. UO is now 126-51 (71 percent) under Graves. 

Graves received his first John R. Wooden Pac-12 Coach of the Year award in March. The Ducks notched 11 victories over teams ranked inside the Associated Press Top-25 for at least one week during the 2018-2019 season. 

The Ducks’ 88-84 NCAA Tournament Regional Final win over top-seeded Mississippi State on March 31 marked the program’s third straight Elite Eight appearance under Graves. UO has won 20-or-more games the last four seasons. 

Graves also saw numerous players receive individual recognition. Ionescu won her second Pac-12 Player of the Year award and received the Wade Trophy, Wooden Award and Lieberman Award, which are presented to the nation’s most outstanding player. 

Forwards Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally and guard Maite Cazorla joined Ionescu on the all-Pac-12 team. The Ducks’ four selections are a program record. Forward Erin Boley also received Pac-12 honorable mention honors. 

Graves has remained busy this offseason. He and his coaching staff have received verbal commitments from five of ESPN’s top-40 class of 2020 recruits. The Ducks added transfers Minyon Moore (USC) and Sedona Prince (Texas) as well. 

UO returns eight players from its 2018-2019 roster, including Ionescu, Hebard, Sabally and Boley. 

Presenting sponsor: HP

State Champion Sponsors: NBC Sports Northwest Nike Pamplin Media Group Portland Thorns Portland Timbers Portland Trail Blazers Providence Heath and Services Washington Trust Bank

About Sport Oregon

Sport Oregon’s mission is to drive economic growth and enhance Oregon’s quality of life through sports.  Our non-profit organization has served as the state’s sports economic development arm for more than two decades, injecting more than $350 million into Oregon’s economy through sports tourism.

Supported by more than 150 annual members, Sport Oregon works relentlessly to enhance the state’s economy and quality of life by attracting sports events and franchises.  Sport Oregon’s major achievements include securing the NCAA Basketball Tournament, Davis Cup World Final, multiple U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Women’s World Cup Soccer and the Dew Tour.  Sport Oregon was recognized as “Sports Commission of the Year” in 2010 by the National Association of Sports Commissions.  View a complete list of Past Events and Future Events.

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Brady Johnson 

Sport Oregon 

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