Kentucky forward Willie Cauley-Stein is one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy, given annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the national player of the year.
Cauley-Stein joins Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor as the remaining candidates for the award. The four finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, which based selections on individual performances throughout the 2014-15 men’s college basketball regular season.
The winner of the Naismith Trophy Men’s College Player of the Year will be revealed during Final Four weekend, on April 5 in Indianapolis.
For the 11th consecutive year, fans will have the opportunity to vote for who they believe should be the 2015 Naismith Trophy winner. Beginning March 23 and running through April 4, fans can cast their vote at NaismithVote.com. The fan vote represents 25 percent of the selection process, more than any other college basketball award.
Cauley-Stein has been one of UK’s top contributors during its historic 34-0 run that’s led up to the NCAA Tournament. The 7-footer averages 9.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in 25.5 minutes of action.
A force on the defensive end, Cauley-Stein leads UK’s in steals (44) while ranking second in blocked shots (56) for the nation’s top-ranked field-goal percentage defensive team. Capable of guarding all five positions, Cauley-Stein is the only 7-footer in the country to rank in the top 215 nationally in steals per game.
The Olathe, Kan., native has been particularly good in Kentucky’s biggest games, averaging a team-high 11.6 points and 8.4 rebounds vs. UK’s seven ranked opponents.
Earlier this season, Cauley-Stein became the first player in school history to collect 200 or more career blocks and 100 or more career steals. He’s also one of just eight players in program history with 500 or more rebounds, 100 or more blocks, and 75 or more steals.
In addition to being named a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, Cauley-Stein has already earned several other honors this postseason, including:
· United States Basketball Writers Association First Team All-American
· Sporting New First Team All-American
· USBWA District IV Player of the Year
· Southeastern Conference Tournament MVP
· SEC Defensive Player of the Year
· All-SEC First Team
· USBWA Oscar Robertson Trophy Finalist
· John R. Wooden Award Finalist
· Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year Award Finalist