Wall, UK rake in awards


UK’s John Wall looks to the basket against the University of Florida at Rupp Arena on Sunday, March 7, 2010. Photo by Scott Hannigan

If you missed the Academy Awards Sunday night, have no fear. The awards season has just begun for the UK men’s basketball team.

UK freshman guard John Wall was named the Yahoo! Sports National Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Joining Wall on the Yahoo! Sports first-team All-America list is freshman forward DeMarcus Cousins. Junior forward Patrick Patterson was named an honorable mention to the list.

On March 2, UK head coach John Calipari was named to the Yahoo! Sports All-Coaches first-team. Calipari has been the architect in transforming and building the Cats from a National Invitation Tournament team one year ago, to a likely No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament one week from now.

Yahoo! Sports named Wall, Cousins and Patterson first-team All-Southeastern Conference performers. Wall was named by Yahoo! Sports as the conference Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year, and Calipari was named the conference Coach of the Year.

Sporting News named Wall Freshman of the Year. Cousins joined Wall on Sporting News’ All-Freshman Team.

CBSSports.com also handed out their league honors Monday, and their was a strong blue tint to them. Wall was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, and Calipari was named the SEC Coach of the Year. Wall, Cousins and Patterson were all named first-team All-SEC selections.

The electric 6-foot-4 guard from Raleigh, N.C., will likely be taking in postseason awards by the droves in the next few weeks.

Wall is one of the top candidates for the Wooden Award, given to the country’s top player, the Naismith Trophy, given to college basketball’s player of the year, and is one of the final six candidates up for the Bob Cousy Award, given to the nation’s top point guard.

Wall leads the Cats (29-2, 14-2 SEC) in scoring (16.8 points per game), assists (6.2 assists per game), steals (1.8 steals per game), minutes (34.7 minutes per game), and is third in rebounding (4.0 boards per game).

Perhaps most impressive ­­ is his play in the clutch. Wall said after the Cats’ game at Georgia on March 3 he may not be the best shooter, but he knows how to score in the clutch. The numbers don’t lie. In the last two minutes and overtime this season, Wall has scored 66 points in 70 minutes with just six giveaways. That’s 37.7 points per 40 minutes in crunch time.

Cats close regular season at No. 2

The Cats finished the Southeastern Conference as the No. 1 team, but they finished the regular season as the No. 2 team in the Associated Press top 25.

After defeating Georgia in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday night, the Cats closed out the regular season on Senior Day with a 74-66 win over Florida to cap off an 18-0 record at home.

UK received two first-place votes.

Kansas (29-2) regained the No. 1 ranking after losing it one week prior. The Jayhawks defeated Kansas State and Missouri last week.

The nation’s previous No. 1 team, Syracuse (28-3) , dropped to No. 3 in the polls. The Orange lost to Louisville in the Cardinals’ final home game at Freedom Hall before moving to their new arena next season. Two of the Orange’s three losses this season came to the Cards.

Duke (26-5) stayed at No. 4 despite losing to Maryland on the road Wednesday evening. Duke likely saved themselves by pummeling rival North Carolina by 32 at home on Saturday.

Coming in at No. 5 this week is National Player of the Year candidate Evan Turner and the Ohio State Buckeyes (24-7). Though the Buckeyes only played one game last week, a 73-57 win over Illinois, previous No. 5 Kansas State lost twice.

Again, the SEC got only three teams in the AP top 25. Joining UK in the rankings are Tennessee (23-7, 11-5 SEC) and Vanderbilt (23-7, 12-4 SEC).

Tennessee is No. 15 this week and Vanderbilt fell to No. 20 after losing on Saturday to South Carolina.