Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe continued his strong run through the postseason awards circuit on Sunday, when he was named Naismith Player of the Year after a standout junior year with the Wildcats. Tshiebwe averaged 17.4 points and 15.2 rebounds for UK in his first season after transferring from West Virginia midway through the 2020-21 campaign.
Tshiebwe is just Kentucky's second-ever recipient of the Naismith Trophy, joining Anthony Davis, who won the award in 2012. This year's other finalists were Ochai Agbaji from Kansas, Johnny Davis from Wisconsin and Keegan Murray from Iowa.
Though Kentucky's season ended in disappointing fashion with a first round NCAA Tournament loss to No. 15 seed Saint Peter's, Tshiebwe managed to be a bright spot even in a bleak moment for his team. The 6-foot-9 bruiser finished with 30 points and 16 rebounds against the Peacocks to close the season with 16 straight double-doubles. That was the longest streak in Kentucky history. His total of 28 double-doubles also marked a program record.
In addition to the Naismith Award, Tshiebwe was also named Auburn center Walker Kessler earned the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award after blocking 4.6 shots per game as a sophomore for the Tigers.and has now totaled five NCAA-recognized player of the year awards. Tshiebwe wasn't the only SEC big man to pick up a Naismith Award on Sunday.
Ed Cooley of Providence won Naismith Coach of the Year after leading the Friars to a 27-6 season, Big East regular-season title and a Sweet 16 appearance.
Men's Naismith Player of the Year winners
|2017||Frank Mason III||Kansas|
|2015||Frank Kaminsky III||Wisconsin|
|2010||Evan Turner||Ohio State|
|2008||Tyler Hansbrough||North Carolina|
|2004||Jameer Nelson||Saint Joseph's|
|1998||Antawn Jamison||North Carolina|
|1997||Tim Duncan||Wake Forest|
|1984||Michael Jordan||North Carolina|
|1979||Larry Bird||Indiana State|
|1975||David Thompson||NC State|
|1971||Austin Carr||Notre Dame|