Oscar Tshiebwe Wins SEC Player of the Year to Lead League Honors

by junior forward being named the Southeastern Conference’s Player of the Year, three players in all were honored with postseason honors by the league’s coaches on Tuesday. 

In addition to being tabbed the top-performing player, Tshiebwe was an All-SEC First Team selection and was also a member of the All-Defensive Team. TyTy Washington Jr. and Sahvir Wheeler earned All-SEC Second Team accolades, with Washington also adding All-Freshman Team distinction. 

Tshiebwe was joined on the nine-man coaches’ All-SEC First Team by Tari Eason (LSU), Walker Kessler (Auburn), Iverson Molinar (Mississippi State), JD Notae (Arkansas), Scotty Pippen Jr. (Vanderbilt), Jabari Smith (Auburn), Santiago Vescovi (Tennessee) and Jaylin Williams (Arkansas).

Washington and Wheeler were joined on the All-SEC Second Team by Kobe Brown (Missouri), Colin Castleton (Florida), Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee), Darius Days (LSU), Quenton Jackson (Texas A&M) and Jaden Shackelford (Alabama).

A list of the full SEC awards is below.

Tshiebwe is the 10th player in school history to win the coaches’ SEC Player of the Year award and the fifth in 13 seasons under John Calipari (six counting Malik Monk’s AP honor in 2017).

With three Wildcats on the coaches’ All-SEC teams, Calipari has now coached 32 players (33 total honors) who have earned All-SEC first- or second-team accolades. At least one player has been named to the All-SEC Freshman Team in each of Calipari’s 13 seasons, including 29 total.

Eleven players have earned 13 SEC All-Defensive honors under Calipari’s watch.

Tshiebwe is not only averaging a double-double but doing so with a considerable margin — averaging a team-best 17.3 points and a nation-leading 15.3 rebounds per game.

In addition to his offensive and rebounding prowess, on the defensive end Tshiebwe is the only major conference player averaging at least 1.5 blocked shots and 1.5 steals per game. He has also snared 56 more rebounds than the next closest player this season, through games on March 5.

Tshiebwe has corralled at least 10 boards in all but two games this season and is in the midst of a stretch of 18 straight games with double-digit rebounds. That’s a record for the Wildcats dating back to the 1967-68 season with complete game-by-game rebounding records. had two stretches of 12 such games.

With 474 rebounds on the season, Tshiebwe has the third-most in one season in UK history, and the most since Cliff Hagan in 1952. Two players have corralled more than 500 in a season (Bill Spivey — 567 in 1951 and Hagan — 528 in 1952).

Tshiebwe is in the midst of notching 13 straight double-doubles, the longest streak since complete game-by-game rebounding records were kept dating back to 1969. He has totaled 25 double-doubles this season and trails only Issel who has the record with 26 in 1969-70. He trails Navy’s David Robinson’s single-season record of 31 by just six which was set in 1985-86.

Wheeler earned All-SEC Second Team honors for the second-consecutive season after also earning the distinction a year ago while at Georgia. It also marks the second-consecutive season Wheeler is leading the SEC in assists.

Wheeler’s current rate of 6.93 assists per game is a shade behind Tyler Ulis’ 7.03 average when he set the UK single-season assists record in 2015-16 with 246 dimes. Wheeler entered the season ranked sixth among all returners nationally in career assists per game. With 187 assists this season, Wheeler ranks 10th in UK single-season history in the category. He is just eight assists shy of breaking into the top five.

Wheeler has reached double-digit scoring in 14 games and has eight or more assists in 11 games, including a career-high 14 in a win over North Florida.

The Houston native directed one of the best offensive performances in program history in a 107-79 win over then-No. 22 Tennessee. He accounted for 21 points and dished out eight assists en route to leading the Wildcats to their most points scored against an Associated Press Top 25 team since 1994. It was also the most points the Volunteers had yielded in 15 seasons.

Furthermore, UK made 38 of 56 (67.9%) from the floor. That marked the highest field-goal percentage in any game for the Wildcats under Calipari. Kentucky also became the first team to post a 60-60-90 shooting line in an SEC game in 25 years.

With Wheeler directing the offense, UK has scored 90 or more points in seven games this season. That’s the most since the 2016-17 season.

Washington is the next great UK freshman under Calipari’s watch. He is averaging 12.2 points, 4.1 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 46.3% from the field and 33.7% from 3-point range. He is the only freshman in the country meeting those standards.

The Phoenix native has generated four 20-point games. He has two double-doubles this season in both points and rebounds and points and assists, the first UK player to do so since in the 2019-20 season.

He is also a stud with the ball in his hands. Taking on the primary point guard duties against Georgia, Washington dished out a single-game program record with 17 assists.

Washington ranks first in the SEC and 26th nationally with a 2.53 assist-to-turnover ratio, through games on March 5. He also is eighth in the league and 120th overall with 4.1 assists per game.

He has been able to provide a little bit of everything to the Wildcats this season. He has hit multiple 3-pointers in nine games and dished out at least three assists in 20 games, including each of the last six he’s played.

Washington’s game has been recognized inside the league as he reeled in five SEC Freshman of the Week honors this season. He was the first player in the SEC to win or share the honor in four straight weeks since former UK player Devin Booker won the freshman weekly award four straight times in the 2014-15 season. Coincidentally, that is also the last time a player in the league won SEC Freshman of the Week five times in one season, which Washington matched.

The Wildcats have been at their best when Washington is playing well. In the 22 wins in which he has played, he is averaging 13.8 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Washington is shooting 49.6% from the field and 35.5% from behind the arc in victories. He has scored in double figures in 17 of those games.