Three University of Kentucky freshmen were among 50 players tabbed to the Naismith Trophy Watch List for the National Player of the Year award the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday afternoon.
Each year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors chooses the 50 pre-season “Naismith Watch” list as well as the mid-season team of 30 candidates. The Naismith voting academy narrows that group down to four finalists who will make up the final ballot. The voting academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, base its criteria on player performance throughout the season.
The trio has started all five games for the Wildcats this season.
Harrison has averaged 11.0 points per game while dishing out a team-high 18 assists, including six against UT Arlington. He leads the squad with a .786 free throw percentage after connecting on 22-of-28 from the charity stripe thus far.
Randle is the fourth Wildcat in program history to open the season with five-straight double-double efforts and the first freshmen. He’s reached the 20-point plateau in four of five contests, while hauling in 13 or more rebounds in four contests. Randle is averaging team-highs in points (20.8) and rebounds (13.6) in the early going.
Young ranks second on the team with an average of 14.2 points per game, while leading the team in assists (7) and made 3-pointers (12). The sharp-shooter has drained at least one 3-pointer in all five games this season and is the only player to achieve that feat. He knocked down a career-high five en route to a career-high 26-point performance against UT Arlington.
Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, creator of the game of basketball, the first trophy was awarded to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in 1969. Anthony Davis became UK’s first winner of the award in 2012 after guiding the Cats to their eighth national title. Other winners include: Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Marcus Camby, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Michael Jordan.