Oscar Tshiebwe of Kentucky, left, is introduced as The Associated Press men’s basketball player of the year, by Barry Bedlan, AP global director of text and new markets products, in New Orleans, Friday, April 1, 2022. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound junior received 46 of 60 votes from a national media panel. Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis was second with 10 votes. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

NEW ORLEANS – The first winner of the United States Basketball Writers Association’s most outstanding men’s college basketball player was Oscar Robertson in 1959. Sixty-three years later its most recent recipient is Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe.

Tshiebwe is the 2022 Oscar Robertson Trophy winner which is the longest consistently presented award in college basketball history. The award is chosen by a vote from USBWA members and was presented to Tshiebwe on Friday at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

The Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo native, is the second recipient of the honor in program history. He joins Anthony Davis (2012) as winners of the award. Tshiebwe, Davis and Pete Maravich (LSU – 1969, 70) are the winners from member institutions of the Southeastern Conference. He is the third player coached by John Calipari to claim the award joining Davis and UMass’ Marcus Camby (1996).

This marks the fourth NCAA-recognized electors for national player of the year honor that Tshiebwe has been awarded. He was also picked as the nation’s top performer by The Sporting News, the National Association of Basketball Coaches and earlier today from the Associated Press.

Tshiebwe not only averaged a double-double but did so with a considerable margin — averaging a team-best 17.4 points and a nation-leading 15.1 rebounds per game. He is the first Division I player who averaged at least 15.0 points and at least 15.0 rebounds per game since Drake’s Lewis Lloyd and Alcorn State’s Larry Smith each did during the 1979-80 season, and the first major-conference player who averaged at least 16.0 points and at least 15.0 rebounds for a season since Bill Walton at UCLA in 1972-73. He became the first Wildcat to do it since Bob Burrow tallied 19.1 points and 17.7 rebounds per game in 1954-55.

He is just the fourth player to earn the USBWA’s National Player of the Year honor while leading the nation in rebounding, joining Ohio State’s Jerry Lucas – twice the national leader and a two-time winner – along with Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan (1996-97) and Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin (2008-09).

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. The original “Big O” won the USBWA’s first two national player of the year awards in 1959 and 1960 and was the consensus national player of the year as a sophomore at Cincinnati in 1958, the year before USBWA began presenting its player of the year award. The USBWA renamed the award the Oscar Robertson Trophy in 1998.

In addition to his offensive and rebounding prowess, on the defensive end Tshiebwe was the only major conference player who averaged at least 1.6 blocked shots and 1.6 steals per game during the regular season. He also became only the third player in program history to amass at least 500 rebounds in a season. Tshiebwe finished the year with 515 boards.

A consensus All-American, Tshiebwe corralled at least 10 boards in all but two games this season and finished the season with 21 straight games with double-digit rebounds. That’s a record for the Wildcats dating back to the 1967-68 season with complete game-by-game rebounding records. Dan Issel had two stretches of 12 such games. It’s also the longest stretch by any SEC player since at least 1996- 97. It’s also the longest streak in one season by any Division I player since Rokas Gustys of Hofstra had 23 straight in 2016.

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