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Kentucky forward Tshiebwe wins Wooden Award

Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe on Tuesday was named the winner of the 2022 John R. Wooden Award, given annually to the nation’s best player.

Tshiebwe is the first Kentucky player to win the award since Anthony Davis in 2012. The two Wildcats big men are the only Kentucky players to win the award since its inception in 1977.

It’s the latest addition to the trophy cabinet for Tshiebwe, who also won Naismith Player of the Year, NABC National Player of the Year, Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, SEC Player of the Year and was a consensus first-team All-American selection.

“The things that he’s done haven’t been done for 50 years,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said last month. “Let me say this again, the things that he’s done haven’t been done for 50 years. He plays his heart out and finds ways to impact every game. I’m proud of him, and it’s not only on the court. He’s so thankful and faith-based and he’s a joy to coach.”

Tshiebwe, a 6-foot-9 Congo native, transferred to Kentucky midway through the 2020-21 season after a season and a half at West Virginia. He immediately established himself as the best rebounder in the country, going for 17 points and 20 rebounds in the season opener against Duke and 14 points and 20 rebounds in the second game of the season against Robert Morris.

Huge performances were par for the course for Tshiebwe this season. He had 28 rebounds in a game against Western Kentucky; 27 points and 19 rebounds against Florida; 30 points and 18 rebounds against Arkansas; 59 points and 30 rebounds in a two-game stretch against Georgia and Vanderbilt; and 30 points and 16 rebounds in the NCAA tournament loss to Saint Peter’s.

Tshiebwe finished with 28 double-doubles, including 16 straight to end the season.

The junior big man had season averages of 17.4 points and 15.1 rebounds, leading the nation in the latter category.

The men’s Wooden Award has been given out every year since 1977, starting with UCLA star Marques Johnson. Iowa‘s Luka Garza won the award last season.

The women’s Wooden Award started in 2004 with Duke‘s Alana Beard. South Carolina‘s Aliyah Boston was named the 2022 winner on Monday, one day after the Gamecocks won the national championship.

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