Kevin Durant named USA Basketball male athlete of the year

"It means a lot," Durant, 22, said Wednesday in a statement released by USA Basketball. "My goal was to represent my country to the best of my ability.

"I really appreciate all of the coaches and players that I got to share that experience with. I am very humbled by this honor."

Forward Durant won the world championship's Most Valuable Player award, averaging 22.8 points per game while shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 44.6 percent from three-point range.

In the absence of household names such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, he emerged as his team's most inspirational figure and scored 28 points in the tournament final on September 12 when the U.S. beat hosts Turkey 81-64.

"Kevin brought maturity and a winning mindset to every practice and every game last summer," said U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski. "He was a critical part of our success, and his team mates wanted him to have the ball in critical situations.

"They knew he'd deliver, and he did repeatedly. Despite his level of accomplishment at such a young age, Kevin wants to be a better player at both ends of the court. He's motivated, and there's no ceiling on his game."

Durant, who will be submitted for the U.S. Olympic Committee's 2010 sportsman of the year award, is the NBA's leading scorer this season. He is averaging 27.3 points per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Ginsburg)