Kentucky Wildcats star Oscar Tshiebwe has been named a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award, it was announced Tuesday.
Joining Tshiebwe on the 10-man list are Jamarion Sharp (Western Kentucky), Tari Eason (LSU), Jacob Gilyard (Richmond), Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Walker Kessler (Auburn), Christian Koloko (Arizona), Caleb McConnell (Rutgers), Kevin McCullar (Texas Tech) and Mark Williams (Duke).
Entering the final week of regular-season play, Tshiebwe leads the country in rebounding (15.3 per game), offensive rebounds per game (5.3), offensive rebounding percentage (20.2%) and defensive rebounding percentage (35.0%).
Along with 1.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per contest, Tshiebwe is the only major conference player averaging at least 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks.
The native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has five games of 20+ rebounds, tying Blake Griffin and Tim Duncan for the most by a major-conference player since 1996-97. Only one other player has at least two such games.
The junior big man’s 445 total rebounds on the season are 55 more than the next closest player. It’s also the fourth-most in a single season in Kentucky basketball history and the best for any Wildcat since 1955. He’s also chipping in a team-high 16.9 points per game.
Finalists will be named March 16th, and the winner will be announced April 3rd.