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March 19, 2012

USBWA names Davis college basketball's top player

The old adage is that defense wins championships. Turns out it can have an impact on individual awards, too.

Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis - the nation's leading shot-blocker - has been named the winner of the 2012 Oscar Robertson Trophy, presented by the United States Basketball Writers Association to college basketball's top player.

The USBWA announced Davis as its Player of the Year winner on Monday. He'll be presented with the Oscar Robertson Trophy at the USBWA College Basketball Awards Breakfast on March 30 at the Marriott New Orleans.

Davis is the first USBWA national player of the year from Kentucky and the second from a Southeastern Conference school. LSU's Pete Maravich won the award in 1969 and 1970.

Davis is the second freshman to earn the honor, joining Texas' Kevin Durant, who claimed the award in 2007.

"Anthony Davis made an immediate and dramatic impact on college basketball," USBWA President Lenox Rawlings of the Winston-Salem Journal said in a release. "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."

Davis, a 6-foot-10 forward from Chicago, is averaging 14.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, and his freshman season has been an assault on Kentucky's blocked-shot records.

Davis' season total of 166 blocked shots is exactly twice the old UK record of 83, set by Andre Riddick in 1993-94.

In 36 games, Davis ranks fifth in school history in career blocks. The four players ahead of him played an average of 122.5 career games.

With four more blocks, Davis would tie the Southeastern Conference single-season record set twice by Mississippi State's Jarvis Varnado. He already owns the league's freshman record, breaking a mark set by LSU's Shaquille O'Neal.

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.

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.

Davis on Sunday was named a finalist for the Naismith Trophy, presented by the Atlanta Tip-Off Club to the nation's top player. He joined Kansas' Thomas Robinson, Michigan State's Draymond Green and Creighton's Doug McDermott as finalists.

Davis also is a finalist for the John Wooden Award, another national Player of the Year award.

Davis was been named SEC Player of the Year by the league's coaches and media covering the conference. He's been named a first-team USBWA All-American and won the organization's Wayman Tisdale Award as the nation's top freshman.

The Wildcats (34-2) will play Indiana on Friday in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Tip-off time is approximately 9:45 p.m. on CBS.


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