Throughout its storied history on the hardwood, Kentucky had yet to win the sport’s most prestigious award. That streak ended Sunday when freshman forward/center Anthony Davis was named winner of the 2012 Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T as the Men’s College Player of the Year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced. He joins Texas’ Kevin Durant (2007) as the only freshmen to win the award. Davis was honored at the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Guardians of the Game Awards Program at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, La.
Other finalists for the award included Draymond Green (Michigan State), Doug McDermott (Creighton) and Thomas Robinson (Kansas).
Davis, who racked up conference awards for his regular‐season performance, including SEC Player of the Year, SEC Freshman of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and a first‐team All-SEC selection, averaged 14.1 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this season, leading the Wildcats to an SEC regular-season championship. Entering the 2012 NCAA tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, Kentucky has relied on the solid play of Davis, who has averaged 15.2 points and 11.2 rebounds in the tournament, and matched his regular‐season average of 4.6 blocks per game. Kentucky defeated Louisville Saturday 69‐61 to make its first NCAA championship game berth since 1998.
“All four of our Naismith Trophy finalists put together a compelling campaign to win the award this season, but in the end, Anthony’s stellar play for the Wildcats was simply too much for voters to ignore,” Atlanta Tipoff Club Executive Director Eric Oberman said. “Congratulations to Anthony, the University of Kentucky and all the finalists for achieving tremendous success. They are all wonderful ambassadors of this sport, and we wish each of them the best of luck in their future basketball careers.”
Davis also became the first Men’s Naismith Trophy winner from the SEC since LSU’s Pete Maravich won in 1970.
“I’m so proud of Anthony. Here’s a guy who’s taken the fourth‐most shots on our team and yet he’s the best player in college basketball. He defers to his teammates,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. “He bought into our system and basically said, ‘Tell me how you want me to play.’ He’s been the ultimate team
player and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Davis was selected by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s National Voting Academy, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, in addition to fan voting via text message, which accounted for 25 percent of the final results ‐- more than any other national college basketball award. The voting academy based its criteria on player performances throughout the season. The vote was tabulated and certified by the accounting firm of Habif, Arogeti& Wynne, LLP. HA&W is the largest independent accounting firm in Georgia and one of the top 50 firms in the United States.
Today, the Naismith Trophy presented by AT&T is regarded as the most prestigious national basketball award and is given annually to the men’s college basketball player of the year.
“We congratulate all of the Naismith nominees and especially 2012 winner Anthony Davis for their inspiring athletic performance and sportsmanship,” said David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer, AT&T Mobility. “This has been an historic year and we are proud to welcome Davis to this exclusive group of elite
Other notable men’s college player of the year winners include Michael Jordan (1984), Ralph Sampson (1981‐1983), Larry Bird (1979), Patrick Ewing (1985), Bill Walton (1972‐1974) and last year’s winner, Jimmer Fredette, from BYU.