Kentucky men’s basketball guards Kellan Grady and TyTy Washington Jr. are on the preseason watch list for the Lute Olson Award, presented annually by CollegeInsider.com to the national player of the year.
It is the first national player of the year watch list a UK player has appeared on in the preseason.
The award, which 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.
Washington led UK in scoring in the exhibition season with 16.5 points per game on 59.1% shooting. The freshman from Phoenix made all six of his 3-point shots and dished out eight assists over the two games.
Highlighted by 13 points in the come-from-behind win vs. Miles College, Grady averaged 10.0 points in the preseason with four 3-pointers.
Although the Kentucky guards vary greatly in college experience, they enter the 2021-22 season highly regarded.
A graduate transfer from Davidson College, Grady is utilizing the COVID-19 extra season of eligibility. He scored 2,002 points at Davidson and averaged at least 17.1 points in all four seasons. Grady enters the 2021-22 year with the second-most points in college basketball, behind only Antoine Davis from Detroit Mercy.
Grady is also on the preseason watch list for the Jerry West Award, given annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation’s top shooting guard. He was also a preseason All-Southeastern Conference Second Team selection by both the league’s media and its coaches.
Washington is regarded as one of the top freshmen in the country. A five-star prospect, Washington was ranked as high as No. 14 overall by Rivals and ESPN in the final 2021 recruiting rankings. ESPN tabbed him the No. 2 overall point guard.
At AZ Compass Prep last season, Washington averaged 24.0 points, 7.0 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game, which finished 30-2 in his senior season. Washington was named the MaxPreps Arizona Player of the Year and was selected to the 2021 Iverson Roundball Classic.
Kentucky opens the regular season Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden in New York vs. No. 9/9 Duke in the annual Champions Classic. It will be the Wildcats’ eighth top-10 showdown (Associated Press Top 25) in the 11th year of the Champions Classic. UK is 5-5 in the annual series. The game is slated to tip at approximately 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Stocked with a school-record six transfers who played major minutes at other schools, key returners, only three freshmen and aided by the COVID-19 extra year of eligibility, UK will start the season with 13,385 minutes at the NCAA Division I level. That is more than any team in program history entering a season (minute statistics available through the 1964-65 season).