KU’s Azubuike one of 5 finalists for Naismith Trophy

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) gets tangled with West Virginia forward Oscar Tshiebwe (34) and West Virginia guard Miles McBride (4) for a rebound during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Although his dream of bringing a national title trophy back to Lawrence is now unattainable, Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike is still in the running for some meaningful hardware.

The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Tuesday that the 7-foot center was named one of five finalists for this year’s Naismith Trophy, given annually to college basketball’s top player.

Azubuike is one of three seniors on the list of finalists, joining Seton Hall’s Myles Powell and Oregon’s Payton Pritchard. Iowa junior Luka Garza and Dayton sophomore Obi Toppin are the other finalists.

Azubuike is vying to be the third Jayhawk to win the award. Former KU standouts Danny Manning and Frank Mason III won the honor in 1988 and 2017 and their names remain etched onto the trophy.

While averaging a double-double and earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors, Azubuike led Division I in field goal percentage at 74.8%, which helped him set the NCAA’s career field goal percentage mark at 74.6%

Azubuike led the Big 12 in rebounding (10.5 rpg) and double-doubles (15) and was second in the conference in blocked shots at 2.6 per game.

A unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection who was named Big 12 Player of the Year, Azubuike was the only player in the conference to average a double-double (13.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg).

While Azubuike’s numbers will play a big part in his chances of winning the award, fans will also have a say.

By visiting naismithfanvote.com, from March 20 through April 1, fans will be able to cast their ballot for their favorite finalist. Fans may also vote on the @NaismithTrophy Twitter page between March 25 and April 1, to select one of the finalists.

The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall vote. The 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy is scheduled to be announced on April 1, 2020, and the winning player will be awarded with the Citizen Naismith Trophy. The award ceremony will be held on a later date.

Udoka Azubuike Career Honors

2019-20: Naismith Trophy Finalist (1 of 5); Led the nation in field goal percentage (74.8%); Big 12 Player of the Year (B12, AP); All-Big 12 First Team (B12, AP); Big 12 All-Defensive Team; Sporting News All-America Second Team; USBWA All-District VI; Bleacher Report All-America Second Team; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award Finalist (1 of 5); Wooden Award Ballot (1 of 15); Academic All-Big 12 First Team; 3x Big 12 Player of the Week (1/27, 2/10, 2/24); Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List (1 of 12); Maui Invitational Co-MVP & All-Tournament Team; NABC Player of the Year Watch List (1 of 20); Preseason All-Big 12; Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year.

2018-19: Academic All-Big 12 First Team; Preseason All-Big 12 honorable mention.

2017-18: All-Big 12 Third Team; Academic All-Big 12 Second Team; Led the nation in field goal percentage (77.0%).


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