Ten Candidates Competing for Player of the Year Honor Represent Nine Schools and Seven Conferences

 ATLANTA (March 5, 2020) – For the second year in a row, the 10 semifinalists for the Citizen Naismith Trophy, as announced today by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, represent nine colleges from across the nation playing in seven different conferences. The Men’s Player of the Year candidates vary in age with four seniors, three sophomores, two juniors and one freshman. Sole freshman semifinalist Vernon Carey Jr. looks to follow in the footsteps of the 2019 winner, Zion Williamson, who brought home the eighth Citizen Naismith Trophy for Duke. While the two juniors on the semifinalist list, Luka Garza (Iowa) and Malachi Flynn (San Diego State), would be the first to win the Men’s Player of the Year honor for their schools.

Dayton sophomore Obi Toppin would also be the first Flyer to win the Citizen Naismith Trophy and the first Atlantic 10 player to win since St. Joseph’s Jameer Nelson in 2004. Two the four seniors included on the list—Payton Pritchard (Oregon) and Myles Powell (Seton Hall)—round out the four players hoping to be the first to take home the Men’s Player of the Year honor for their schools. While the Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12) dominated the award early on, claiming five of the first eight trophies, Pritchard would become the first Pac-12 player in more than 40 years to win the Citizen Naismith Trophy with the most recent being UCLA’s Marques Johnson in 1977.

Two players are in search of a second Citizen Naismith Trophy win for their schools. Marquette senior Markus Howard, who is the only repeat semifinalist from a year ago, would join fellow Golden Eagle Butch Lee, who won the trophy in 1978, and sophomore Jalen Smith would join former Maryland player Joe Smith (1995) on the list of winners. Kansas, which is the only school with two representatives—senior Udoka Azubuike and sophomore Devon Dotson—has claimed the award on two previous occasions, first with Danny Manning (1988) and more recently with Frank Mason III in 2017.

“Each of these semifinalists have the talent and commitment to win the 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “As unpredictable as this season has been, it’s also been one of the most exciting and that’s why all 10 of these tremendously talented candidates are deserving to be finalists for the Citizen Naismith Trophy.”

2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy Semifinalists

UdokaAzubuikeSr.CKansasBig 12
VernonCarey Jr.Fr.CDukeACC
DevonDotsonSo.GKansasBig 12
MalachiFlynnJr.GSan Diego StateMountain West
LukaGarzaJr.CIowaBig Ten
MarkusHowardSr.GMarquetteBIG EAST
MylesPowellSr.GSeton HallBIG EAST
JalenSmithSo.FMarylandBig Ten
ObiToppinSo.FDaytonAtlantic 10

The four finalists will be announced on March 17, 2020, and beginning March 20 through April 1, 2020, fans will have a chance to vote for their favorite player by visiting naismithtrophy.com/vote to cast their ballot. The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall vote. The 2020 Citizen Naismith Trophy will be awarded at the Naismith Awards Brunch presented by Invesco QQQ on April 5, 2020, during the Men’s Division I Championship weekend in Atlanta.

“This year’s list of semifinalists for the Citizen Naismith Trophy for Men’s Player of the Year continues the long tradition of recognizing excellence in college basketball,” said Eric Horowitz, managing director U.S. and travel retail, Citizen Watch America. “We’re looking forward to seeing which one of these impressive young men will take home the award from Atlanta.”

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 college basketball season, will vote for the four finalists. The vote will be tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier CPA-led business advisory firm, headquartered in Atlanta. 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.

For more information, visit www.naismithtrophy.com.


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.


 Media Contact:

Traci Messier

Jackson Spalding for the Atlanta Tipoff Club

[email protected]