Kentucky Wildcats forward Oscar Tshiebwe has been named a finalist for the Naismith Men’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. This news comes just days after he was named a semifinalist for Naismith Player of the Year.
Tshiebwe is joined on the defensive list by Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Walker Kessler (Auburn) and Mark Williams (Duke). The award debuted in 2018, and no UK player has won it yet.
In addition, Tshiebwe has earned his second NCAA-recognized All-America honor, as he was just named an Associated Press First-Team selection. He previously earned First-Team honors from The Sporting News, which also named him Player of the Year.
Entering NCAA Tournament play, Tshiebwe leads the Wildcats in scoring (17.0), rebounding (15.1), steals (1.8), blocks (1.6) and field-goal percentage (60.2%). He leads the country in rebounds per game, offensive rebounds per game (5.3), double-doubles (27) and defensive rebounding percentage (34.6%). He’s also the only major conference player averaging at least 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks per game.
Tshiebwe has five 20+ rebound games, tying Blake Griffin and Tim Duncan for the most by a major-conference player since 1996-97. That includes a record-setting 28-reboundperformance in Kentucky’s December win over Western Kentucky. The previous Rupp Arena record of 21 was held by basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal.
Here’s to hoping this will be one of many awards Tshiebwe and the Wildcats take home over the next month.
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