NBRPA Founding Member Oscar Robertson was in New Orleans for the NCAA Men’s Final Four and presented Kentucky freshman forward Anthony Davis with the 2011-2012 Oscar Robertson Trophy as National Player of the Year on behalf of the the U.S. Basketball Writers Association . The award presentation on March 30 was attended by NBRPA CEO Arnie D. Fielkow, as well as staff and board members from the only Association comprised of former NBA, ABA and Harlem Globetrotters players.
Davis, a 6-10, 220-pounder from Chicago, Ill., becomes the first USBWA national player of the year from Kentucky and just the second from a Southeastern Conference school. LSU’s Pete Maravich is the only other SEC player to win the award and he won it in back-to-back seasons (1968-69 and 1969-70). Also, Davis is the second freshman to earn the honor, joining Texas’ Kevin Durant, who claimed the award in the 2006-07 season.
A first-team USBWA All-American and USBWA District IV Player of the Year, Davis was chosen as the national player of the year from a field of 10 finalists, based on regular-season performance. Last week, he was named the winner of the Wayman Tisdale Award as the USBWA’s national freshman of the Year.
The SEC Player of the Year and SEC Defensive Player of the Year led Wildcats (34-2) to an unbeaten record in SEC play (16-0) and the SEC regular-season championship. Kentucky, the NCAA tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, continues its pursuit of a national championship in the South Regional in Atlanta, where they will play Indiana on Friday evening.
Davis has started all 36 games this season and has led the team with 14.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game while shooting 63.6 percent from the field, second best in the nation. Davis also leads the nation in blocks (175). Twice this season Davis was named the SEC Player of the Week and he was the conference’s Freshman of the Week four times. In 30 of the Wildcats’ 36 games, he has scored in double figures while recording 18 double-doubles.
“Anthony Davis made an immediate and dramatic impact on college basketball,” said USBWA President Lenox Rawlings of the Winston-Salem Journal. “He has many skills, most obvious among them his ability to block and alter shots. Davis’ dominance inside solidfied Kentucky as a national title contender and brought Bill Russell back into the dialogue, shining light on the vital half of the game that people often ignore.”
The Oscar Robertson Trophy is voted on by the entire membership of the association, which consists of more than 900 journalists. It is the nation’s oldest award and the only one named after a former player. The legendary Oscar Robertson was the USBWA’s first player of the year in 1959. The USBWA renamed its player of the year award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in 1998.
The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. Today, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball.