The four finalists for the Naismith Award were announced the same day the NCAA Tournament got underway in full bloom as March Madness is overtaking college basketball fans across the country.
There weren’t many surprises when the four finalists for the Naismith Award were released on Thursday with Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant and Kentucky’s Willie-Cauley-Stein up for the award.
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Kaminsky, a 7-0 senior center for the Badgers led his team to a No. 1 seed and the Big Ten regular season and conference tournament titles this year. He averaged 18.2 points, eight rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 blocks per game.
Okafor also led his team to a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament after averaging 17.7 points, nine rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. The top freshman in the country has certainly lived up to the lofty praise and expectations placed on him after winning the McDonald’s Player of the Year last year. The 6-11, 270-pound center is a top candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Grant was the leader of the Fighting Irish squad this year that won the ACC conference tournament after finishing third in the conference during the regular season. The 6-5 senior guard averaged 16.8 points, three rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Grant’s team is a No. 3 seed that many, including myself are picking to advance as far as the Elite Eight.
Cauley-Stein’s numbers pale in comparison to the other three finalists, but his team accomplishments dwarf his three competitors for the Naismith. His Kentucky team dominated the competition in the regular season and SEC conference tournament and entered the NCAA Tournament still undefeated.
He averaged 9.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game in 25.5 minutes for the nation’s best team.
Who do you think will win the award? Let us know your prediction in the comments section below.
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