The award of all awards. College basketball’s finest accomplishment. The Naismith Trophy. Now, it’s all to be claimed by Kentucky’s own, Oscar Tshiebwe.
Oscar becomes just the second Kentucky player under John Calipari to take home the award, joining the elite category of now two with Anthony Davis. That’s now three Calipari-coached players in his luxurious career to win the award, as Marcus Camby did at Massachusetts in 1996.
The Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo native had one of the most impressive year-to-year turnarounds after leaving West Virginia to come to Kentucky, finding happiness and finding ultimate success. I mean, he was literally named the best player in the entire sport this season.
This marks the fifth 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, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Associated Press and the United States Basketball Writers Association.
Tshiebwe was elite on the glass from the very beginning of the season. He set new records for the Champions Classic and UK debut with 20 boards vs. Duke in the season opener, nearly tied the Rupp Arena record with 20 rebounds in his first home game, and then shattered that Rupp record with 28 boards vs. Western Kentucky. That easily surpassed Shaquille O'Neal's previous mark of 21. It's worth noting Tshiebwe did that primarily against the tallest player in college basketball, Jamarion Sharp, who stands at 7-foot-5. With 20 boards the following game against Missouri, his 48 boards tied for the most over a two-game span by any Division I player over the last 25 seasons (according to ESPN Stats & Info).
He concluded the season with 16 straight double-doubles, the longest streak since complete game-by-game rebounding records were kept dating back to 1969 for the Wildcats. He totaled 28 double-doubles this season which is a new UK single-season record.
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.
A list of all the awards Oscar Tshiebwe has won at Kentucky this season:
Naismith Player of the Year
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award
USBWA Oscar Robertson Trophy
Associated Press Player of the Year
NABC National Player of the Year
NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year
NCAA Consensus All-America First Team
Wooden Award All-America 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
This season will be one to remember as he becomes one of the most decorative players since Anthony Davis, racking up every single major POTY award. The last one on table is the Wooden award, which will be announced on Tuesday. We’ve got to assume he will win that one too. If so, he’ll become the first player in program history to become a unanimous selection for player of the year.