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Kentucky’s Tshiebwe, Kennedy Catholic Grad, Named AP Player of the Year

Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe. Photo University of Kentucky athletics.

NEW ORLEANS – The national honors continue to roll in for Kenedy Catholic grad and Kentucky men’s basketball standout Oscar Tshiebwe, as he was named Associated Press Player of the Year on Friday.

The award was presented during a presentation inside the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, home of the Final Four.

Tshiebwe is the second UK player to be named the AP’s top performer joining Anthony Davis (2012). He is the fourth player from the Southeastern Conference to earn the nod joining Davis and LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal (1991) and Pete Maravich (1970). The AP began awarding a national player of the year accolade in 1961. He’s the third player coached by John Calipari to earn the accolade joining Davis and UMass’ Marcus Camby (1996).

This marks the third NCAA-recognized electors for national player of the year honor that Tshiebwe has been awarded. He was also picked as the nation’s top performer by The Sporting News and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

“Thank you. First of all, I would like to thank God, because I feel like you cannot get without him,” said Tshiebwe. “If I did not trust God and let him lead me in everything I do. And second, I would love to thank my coaches and everybody on the staff for always believing in me and always work with me through the process. My teammates, I thank my teammates for everything, too, because I could not do it on my own. I needed somebody like my teammates to encourage, to be with me in everything we’ve done together.

“And I’m very grateful to be here. And I thank the organization for choosing me as player of the year,” Tshiebwe said. “I’m very thankful for them too. And I’m very happy to be here. Very happy, and I’m very excited. This is one of the things, like, it is everybody’s dream to receive that trophy right there. But I’m sitting right here receiving that trophy. That makes me feel very happy and I’m really grateful for everything. Thank you.”

Tshiebwe not only averaged a double-double but did so with a considerable margin — averaging a team-best 17.4 points and a nation-leading 15.1 rebounds per game. He is the first Division I player who averaged at least 15.0 points and at least 15.0 rebounds per game since Drake’s Lewis Lloyd and Alcorn State’s Larry Smith each did during the 1979-80 season, and the first major-conference player who averaged at least 16.0 points and at least 15.0 rebounds for a season since Bill Walton at UCLA in 1972-73. He became the first Wildcat to do it since Bob Burrow tallied 19.1 points and 17.7 rebounds per game in 1954-55.

Tshiebwe ended the season becoming only the second Wildcat since 1978-79 to finish the season leading the team in points per game (17.4), rebounds per game (15.1), steals per game (1.8), blocks per game (1.6) and field-goal percentage with a minimum of 100 attempts (60.6%). Davis was the other to achieve the feat.

Tshiebwe is racking up postseason honors by the day. The major honors he’s won so far include:

  • Associated Press National Player of the Year
  • NABC National Player of the Year
  • NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year
  • NCAA Consensus All-America First Team
  • USBWA First-Team All-America
  • NABC First-Team All-America
  • Associated Press First-Team All-America
  • Sporting News First-Team All-America
  • Wooden Award All-America Team
  • NABC All-District 20 First Team
  • Southeastern Conference Player of the Year (coaches/media)
  • All-SEC First Team (coaches/media)
  • All-SEC Defensive Team (coaches)
  • USBWA District IV Player of the Year
  • USBWA All-District IV team
  • CBS Sports National Player of the Year
  • USA Today National Player of the Year
  • USA Today First-Team All-American
  • The Athletic’s National Player of the Year
  • Sports Illustrated First-Team All-American
  • The Field of 68 National Player of the Year
  • The Field of 68 First-Team All-America
  • College Hoops Today National Player of the Year
  • USA Today SEC Player of the Year
  • USA Today First-Team All-SEC unanimous selection

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