The ball is finally starting to roll into the court of one of the nation's best big men, and these award watchlists now make that fact.
Oscar Tshiebwe has been named to the Lute Olson Watch List for its player of the year award. This is the second nomination for Big O, as he was also tabbed for the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watch List, earlier this month.
Through games up to January 11th, Tshiebwe led the country in rebounds per game (15.1), offensive rebounds per game (5.3) and defensive rebounding percentage (36.0). He also leads the Wildcats in scoring with 17.0 points per game and ranks second nationally with 12 double-doubles. Not to mention, recording four 20-rebound performances this season, a feat that no other player in the county has done more than once.
Tshiebwe is responsible for 34.7% of all of UK’s rebounds this season. Taking away team rebounds, that percentage jumps to 38.1%.
He is looking to become the first Division I player to average at least 15.0 points per game 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.
The last UK player to average at least 14.0 rebounds per game in a season was Ed Beck in 1956-57. Bob Burrow owns the Kentucky single-season record of 17.7 rebounds per game, which was set during the 1954-55 season.
Only two players under John Calipari have averaged double-figures rebounds for a season: Anthony Davis (2012) and Julius Randle (2014) both hauled in 10.4 per game.
The Lute Olson Award is presented annually to the top player in Division I college basketball, is named in honor of Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson, who won 776 games in 34 seasons, 24 of which were spent at the University of Arizona. During that stretch he led the Wildcats to 11 Pac-10 Conference titles, 23 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, four Final Four appearances and a national championship in 1997. If Oscar was to win the award, he would become the first Wildcat to do so.