Azubuike, Garza, Powell, Pritchard and Toppin Compete for the Men’s Player of the Year Honor
ATLANTA (March 17, 2020) – Based on regular season play, the Atlanta Tipoff Club has announced the five finalists vying for the honor of the 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy, recognizing the most outstanding men’s college basketball player. The finalists include seniors Udoka Azubuike (Kansas), Myles Powell (Seton Hall) and Payton Pritchard (Oregon), junior Luka Garza (Iowa) and sophomore Obi Toppin (Dayton).
Four of the finalists—Garza, Powell, Pritchard and Toppin—would be the first from their schools to win the men’s Citizen Naismith Trophy, and Azubuike would be the third player from Kansas to bring home the award, joining former Jayhawks’ winners Danny Manning (1988) and Frank Mason III (2017). If Azubuike, Powell or Pritchard win, they would join Mason and 27 others who won the award in their senior year. Toppin looks to be the 10th sophomore to win the trophy and Garza would become the 12th junior to take home the award.
“Each of these finalists enjoyed an incredible season, and all of them deserve to win the Citizen Naismith Trophy,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “Their talent and skill on the court make them worthy of Player of the Year, and although we won’t see them in postseason play, we believe it is important to still honor their accomplishments.”
By visiting naismithfanvote.com, from March 20-April 1, 2020, fans will be able to cast their ballot for their favorite finalist. Fans may also vote on the @NaismithTrophy Twitter page between March 25-April 1, to select one of the finalists. The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall vote, which will be tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier CPA-led business advisory firm, headquartered in Atlanta. The 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy is scheduled to be announced on April 3, 2020, and the winning player will be awarded with the Citizen Naismith Trophy, produced and provided by Herff Jones, leading provider of graduation and educational products and services designed to inspire achievement and create memorable experiences for students. A replica trophy will be donated by Herff Jones to the respective school in recognition of award recipient. The award ceremony will be held on a later date.
“These five student-athletes have shown the commitment and drive this season worthy of the top Player of the Year honor,” said Eric Horowitz, managing director U.S. and travel retail, Citizen Watch Company of America, Inc. “We had the pleasure of watching this elite group of five play this season and look forward to awarding one of them with the Citizen Naismith Trophy.”
About the finalists:
Udoka Azubuike, Kansas
- Azubuike led the Division I in field goal percentage at 74.8%, which helped his career average of 74.4% break the all-time Division I field goal percentage record of UCF’s Tacko Fall (74.0%).
- The senior center led the Big 12 in rebounding (10.5 rpg) and double-doubles (15) and was second in the conference for blocked shots at 2.6 per game.
- A unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection who was also named Big 12 Player of the Year, Azubuike was the only player in the conference to average a double-double (13.7 ppg, 105 rpg).
- Top-ranked Kansas went 17-1 in conference play, the most league wins in Big 12 history, and 28-3 overall.
Luka Garza, Iowa
- Garza averaged 23.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, breaking the Iowa record for most points in a single season with 740.
- The 6’11” center is the fourth player nationally since 2007 to amass more than 700 points, 300 rebounds, 50 blocks and 35 three-pointers in a single season.
- Unanimously selected to the First Team All-Big Ten team, the junior also became the first Hawkeye to win Big Ten Player of the Year.
- Garza’s team went 20-11 this season.
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
- Named BIG EAST Player of the Year, Powell was also unanimously selected to the All-BIG EAST First Team.
- The senior guard was second in the conference in scoring (20.9 ppg) and tied for eighth in steals with 1.4 per game.
- He became the fifth Pirate to reach 2,000 career points and is the all-time leader in three-pointers made with 348.
- Powell led his team to a 21-9 record this season.
Payton Pritchard, Oregon
- Pritchard was selected as the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and named to the All-Pac-12 First Team.
- The 6’2” guard has 140 consecutive starts, which is the most in the nation, and he is the only player in conference history with more than 1,900 career points, 600 career assists and 500 career rebounds.
- Pritchard averaged 20.5 points and 5.6 assists per game, leading the conference.
- His team went 13-5 in the conference and 24-7 overall.
Obi Toppin, Dayton
- Following a 2018-19 season Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year award win, Toppin became the first Dayton Flyer to be named Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year.
- The sophomore forward was the only player in the country to average 20.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg and shoot 63.3% from the field.
- At 6’9”, Toppin recorded 107 dunks and 234 rebounds this season.
- His team had a perfect conference season going 18-0 in the Atlantic 10 and 29-2 overall.
The Citizen Naismith Trophy, originally sculpted in 1982 by Atlanta’s Marty C. Dawe, quickly became one of the most prestigious individual national basketball honors. The Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom base their selections on outstanding on-court performances during the 2019-20 regular college basketball season, will vote for the winner.
For more information, visit www.naismithtrophy.com.
ABOUT THE ATLANTA TIPOFF CLUB
Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, the most prestigious national honors in all of college and high school basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the family of Naismith Awards annually recognizes the most outstanding men’s and women’s college and high school basketball players and coaches. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the men’s and women’s college basketball defensive players of the year, as well as lifetime achievement awards to basketball officials and outstanding contributors to the game. UCLA’s Lew Alcindor received the first Citizen Naismith Trophy in 1969, while the late Anne Donovan (Old Dominion) was the inaugural women’s recipient in 1983. Corporate partners of the Naismith Awards include Citizen Watch Company, Jersey Mike’s and Werner Ladder.
Citizen, a pioneer in watchmaking and innovation since 1918, promotes excellence and creativity with a deep-rooted respect for craftsmanship. Citizen advocates “Better Starts Now,” searching for and accomplishing goals that cultivate positive change. Driven to create timepieces enjoyed by citizens all over the world, Citizen formed an alliance partnership with Disney in 2018, another powerhouse brand with similar values. With a long-term partnership in place, Citizen participates in activations surrounding the Disney Parks, Marvel, Star Wars and more. Citizen is the Official Timepiece of both Walt Disney World and Disneyland with branded clocks in both theme parks.
For over 40 years, Citizen’s Eco-Drive technology has served as the prime example of how the brand is dedicated to making the world and its environment a better place. A simple yet revolutionary concept, Eco-Drive harnesses the power of light from any natural or artificial light source and converts it into energy, eliminating the need for any battery replacement.
Jackson Spalding for the Atlanta Tipoff Club