UK men’s basketball guard was tabbed to Citizen Naismith Trophy watch list earlier Monday
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kentucky men’s basketball freshman guard Tyrese Maxey is among the preseason favorites for the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division I Player of the Year award.
Maxey, who earlier Monday was named to the preseason watch list for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, is one of 20 players on the national NABC watch list to start 2019-20 season. He’s one of five freshmen on the preseason list.
Although Kentucky has won other major national player of the year awards, a Wildcat has never won the NABC’s designation. The NABC Division I Player of the Year award was first presented in 1975 and has been awarded to the likes of Larry Bird (1979), Ralph Sampson (1982, ‘83), Michal Jordan (1984), Patrick Ewing (1985) and David Robinson (1987). More recent winners include Zion Williamson, last season, and Jalen Brunson, in 2018.
The 2020 NABC Division I Player of the Year award will be announced on April 5 at the AT&T NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show in Atlanta, site of the 2020 NCAA Final Four.
Maxey begins his freshman campaign with the Wildcats as the No. 10 overall prospect by the Recruiting Services Consensus Index. He was a Naismith High School Boys’ 2019 All-America Second Team selection. As a senior at South Garland High School, he averaged 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
The 6-foot-3 guard was tabbed Texas Mr. Basketball and was the Dallas-Fort Worth Area Player of the Year. He was a two-time All-State selection and was a 2019 McDonald’s All American. His success stretches beyond high school basketball as he also won a gold medal as a member of the U18 USA Team.
In addition to preseason All-SEC Second Team honors from the media, Maxey made NBC Sports’ preseason All-America Third Team, was an Associated Press preseason All-America Honorable Mention selection and is on the Jerry West Award watch list for the Naismith Hall of Fame’s top shooting guard. He’s lived up to the preseason billing with an average of 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game in Kentucky’s two exhibition games.
The Wildcats open the regular season in New York for the State Farm Champions Classic on Tuesday. They will face Michigan State at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN in a matchup of the two top-ranked teams in the country, according to the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll.
It will mark just the second time in NCAA Division I history the AP No. 1 and No. 2 teams played in their respective openers, according to STATS. No. 1 Indiana defeated No. 2 UCLA in November 1975.
Tuesday’s matchup will be the ninth 1-2 matchup the Wildcats have been a part of. They’re 5-3 all-time in such games.