AP sources: Bulls' Rose to be named rookie of the year

CHICAGO — Derrick Rose, who led his hometown Bulls to the playoffs and restored hope to a franchise in disarray, is the NBA's rookie of the year.

Two people familiar with the award confirmed to The Associated Press that Rose won it. Both requested anonymity as the announcement was to be made later today.

Rose is the third Bulls player to win the award, joining Michael Jordan and Elton Brand. His selection was hardly a surprise, after the No. 1 overall draft pick led all rookies with 6.3 assists per game and was second in scoring average at 16.8. Along the way, Rose established himself as the franchise's first true cornerstone since Jordan.

A point guard from Chicago's South Side, Rose used his strength, blinding quickness and uncanny maturity to help turn around a team that went 33-49 last season.

He was the Eastern Conference rookie of the month in November and December and again in March, helping the Bulls go 41-41 and reach the postseason for the fourth time in five years. In last Saturday's playoff opener against defending champion Boston, Rose matched Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's scoring record for a debuting rookie with 36 points and 11 assists in a 105-103 overtime victory.

Rose added 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a Game 2 loss.

"He can finish around the basket, and that's not easy for — he's not small, but he's not a big guard," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He's good at that, and that's impressive for a guy that size. His quickness to the basket is impressive."

The Chicago Tribune first reported that Rose had won the award.

Rose excelled from the start and never really slowed down, although he was at times benched late in games. That stopped after general manager John Paxson chatted with coach Vinny Del Negro, but whether he was playing in the closing moments or not, Rose never complained publicly.

"He plays both ends of the court, which is refreshing to see," Lakers star Kobe Bryant said. "A lot of young players don't play both ends. He works hard at it, defense as well."

Indiana coach Jim O'Brien even compared him to LeBron James.

"They're different positions, but LeBron James has the same thing — it's hard to knock him off his driving lane," O'Brien said.

"And I think he's improved his outside shot. And I think he knows the game."

From the moment he returned to Chicago, Rose has fit with the Bulls. They won the draft lottery despite 1.7 percent odds and could have picked Michael Beasley, the high-scoring forward from Kansas State. Instead, they went with the guard who grew up a few miles from the United Center in the rough Englewood neighborhood.

They saw a dynamic floor leader, a selfless player — a winner.

Rose led Simeon Career Academy to the state championship and Memphis to 38 wins and the NCAA title game in his lone season. Now, he's helping the Bulls turn things around after what seemed like a solid plan went awry.

Two years ago, Chicago won 49 games and swept Miami before falling to Detroit in the second round of the playoffs.

And then?

Failed contract negotiations involving Luol Deng and Ben Gordon along with Bryant trade rumors set a bad tone last season, and coach Scott Skiles was fired in December. Interim coach Jim Boylan was gone at the end of the season, and the Bulls settled on Del Negro after high-profile courtships with Mike D'Antoni and Doug Collins.

Along the way, they scored arguably their biggest victory in a decade when they won the draft lottery. With Rose running the show, the Bulls believe their cornerstone is in place for the next decade.

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