Anthony Davis first UK player to win Naismith Award

April 1, 2012 

Freshman Anthony Davis became the first player from the University of Kentucky to win the Naismith College Player of the Year Award when the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced the honor in New Orleans on Sunday night.

Davis, who has averaged 15.2 points, 11.2 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game during the NCAA Tournament, joins Texas' Kevin Durant (2007) as the only freshmen to win the award.

Davis also became the first men's Naismith winner from the Southeastern Conference since Louisiana State's Pete Maravich in 1970.

This year's other finalists were Michigan State's Draymond Green, Creighton's Doug McDermott and Kansas' Thomas Robinson.

"Wow, this truly is an honor to win the Naismith award as a freshman," Davis was quoted as saying on CoachCal.com. "It's great. The other three finalists are great players, had tremendous seasons. I have to go against one of them (Robinson) tomorrow night. It's going to be a big challenge. It's a great honor, and I just was to thank God, family, friends, coaches and all the people who helped me get this award, and all the fans."

Davis was also presented with the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year award and the NABC Defensive Player of the Year award. The Chicago native had previously won the John R. Wooden Award, Associated Player of the Year honors and the Oscar Robertson Trophy.

"I'm so proud of Anthony," Coach John Calipari said. "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. 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."

Kansas Coach Bill Self was named the Naismith Coach of the Year earlier Sunday, beating out Calipari, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and Missouri's Frank Haith.

"He's a great teacher," Tyshawn Taylor said of Self. "He helps us all understand the game, understand how he wants us to play for us to be successful. His system works. What made this team so good all year is that most of the time, we bought in, and we listened, and we actually paid attention to what he said, wanted to come out there and play.

"I agree with him being the coach of the year," Taylor added. "I said it all year."

Kansas (32-6) is making its first championship game appearance since winning its third NCAA title in 2008.

"It's a cool award," Self said. "But there's a lot of coaches out there deserving of winning awards. All that is is a reflection of your team playing well. I appreciate it, but I don't put a lot of stock into thinking that I've done something that other coaches haven't."

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