ATLANTA – The 50th awarding of the Citizen Naismith Trophy, recognizing the nation’s most outstanding men’s college basketball player, was awarded to Jalen Brunson of Villanova University, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced at its annual Naismith Awards Brunch. Brunson, who edged out Deandre Ayton (University of Arizona), Marvin Bagley III (Duke University) and Devonte’ Graham (University of Kansas), becomes Villanova’s first winner of the award and makes the university the 10th program to have won both a Naismith Player of the Year and Coach of the Year honor.Brunson is the second BIG EAST Conference winner in the past five years and the third winner from the conference in the history of the award, following Doug McDermott (Creighton University, 2014) and Patrick Ewing (Georgetown University, 1985).
Celebrating its 50th year by honoring past winners, the Citizen Naismith Trophy has been presented to 45 unique winners at 31 schools since the first awarding in 1969.
Brunson, a 6’3” guard from Lincolnshire, Illinois, led the Wildcats to a 27-4 regular season record, including 14-4 in the BIG EAST. He has helped lead Villanova to the NCAA Tournament Championship game to be played out on Monday, April 2. Brunson was named the BIG EAST Player of the Year, becoming the third Wildcat guard in the last four seasons to do so. He was also named the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He averaged 19.0 ppg and 4.8 apg in the regular season.
“Jalen had a remarkable season and not only achieved individual success, but also was the undisputed leader of this Villanova team that enjoyed so many remarkable moments,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. He has become a key piece of the Naismith Awards history, forever being known as the 50th winner.”
“We’re honored to award Jalen Brunson with the 50th Annual Citizen Naismith Trophy,” said Eric Horowitz, managing director U.S. and travel retail, Citizen Watch Company of America, Inc. “Jalen has showcased true sportsmanship and incredible passion this season and throughout his career. We are proud to present this historical award to a player that truly reinforces the meaning behind it.”
“This is a great honor to be among the greats that have won the Naismith Trophy,” said Jalen Brunson, winner of the Citizen Naismith Trophy. “It’s a credit to my family, which has sacrificed a lot, and my teammates and coaches, who have helped me become the confident player I am. I’m really thankful that I get to do this with a group of guys I love. It’s all a credit to them.”
Brunson was chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom based their selections on outstanding on-court performances during the 2017-18 college basketball season. Fans also contributed to the final tally through the fan vote, which comprised 5 percent of the overall final total. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, formerly Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, the largest full-service, independent CPA-led business advisory firm, based in Atlanta.