LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) – Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel is among eight players announced by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) as a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award, honoring the nation's top freshman for the 2012-13 college basketball season on Monday.
Noel started in all 24 games played prior to suffering a season-ending ACL injury on Feb. 12 at Florida. He was averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.1 steals and 4.4 blocks per game, while shooting at a 59 percent rate from the field.
The Everett, Mass., native swatted 106 opponent attempts which ranked second in UK single-season history and third among all-time Southeastern Conference freshman in just 24 games. He set a new Kentucky single-game standard with 12 blocks at Ole Miss. In addition to his shot blocking prowess, he garnered 50 steals at a rate of 2.083 swipes per game which ranks as the seventh best per game average in UK single-season history.
Noel led the nation in blocks per game, while also ranking among the top-30 nationally in rebounds and steals per game. He was the only player standing 6-5 or taller who ranked in the top-30 for steals.
Furthermore, he had 14 double-figure scoring outings. He charted five double-double efforts, had two or more blocked shots in 20 of 24 games played and had at least one steal in 21 games. His six swipes against Baylor tied for the most in a single game in the John Calipari era.
Others finalists include Anthony Bennett, UNLV; Jahil Carson, Arizona State; Gary Harris, Michigan State; Ben McLemore, Kansas; Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA; Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State; and Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke.
Former Wildcats Anthony Davis and John Wall have previously been named USBWA’s Freshman of the Year.
The USBWA has chosen a national Freshman of the Year since the 1988-89 season when LSU's Chris Jackson was the recipient. This is the second year it is named for the late Wayman Tisdale who was a three-time USBWA All-American at the University of Oklahoma.