Hachimura, Morant, Williams and Williamson Compete for the Men’s Player of the Year Honor
ATLANTA (March 19, 2019) – On the heels of selection Sunday, the Atlanta Tipoff Club has announced the four finalists vying for the honor of the Citizen Naismith Trophy, recognizing the most outstanding men’s college basketball player. The finalists include juniors Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga) and Grant Williams (Tennessee), sophomore Ja Morant (Murray State) and freshman Zion Williamson (Duke).
Three of the finalists—Hachimura, Morant and Williams—would be the first from their schools to win the men’s Citizen Naismith Trophy, and Williamson would be the eighth player from Duke—more than any other men’s program—to bring home the award. The most recent Blue Devil winner was J.J. Reddick in 2006. Hachimura and Williams would join 10 juniors who have won the award, including last season’s winner of the 50th Citizen Naismith Trophy, Villanova’s Jalen Brunson. Morant looks to be the 10th sophomore to win the trophy and would become the first representative from the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) to win a collegiate Naismith Award. Williamson would become only the third freshman to win the Men’s Player of the Year honor, joining Kevin Durant (Texas), who was the first freshman ever to win the award, in 2007, and Anthony Davis of Kentucky who won five years later.
“The four finalists have displayed all the talent and dedication necessary to take home the Citizen Naismith Trophy, and if selected, they would join an elite group of college basketball players stretching back more than 50 years,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “We look forward to watching each of these players lead their teams in the tournament as they compete for both the championship and the Men’s Player of the Year honor.”
By visiting naismithtrophy.com/vote, from March 22-April 3, 2019, fans will be able to cast their ballot for their favorite finalist. For the first time ever, fans may also vote on the @MarchMadness Twitter page on March 22 and March 27, to select one of the finalists. The fan vote will account for five percent of the overall vote. The 2019 Citizen Naismith Trophy will be awarded at the Naismith Awards Brunch presented by Mortenson on April 7, 2019, during the Final Four in Minneapolis. The Naismith Awards Brunch will be simulcast on SiriusXM channel 84.
“Each of these four players have shown the commitment and drive this season worthy of the top honor,” said Eric Horowitz, managing director U.S. and travel retail, Citizen Watch Company of America, Inc. “As post-season tips off, we are excited to watch them play and compete for the Citizen Naismith Trophy.”
About the finalists:
Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
- Hachimura ranks third in the West Coast Conference (WCC) averaging 20.1 ppg, sixth in the league in shooting 60.9 percent from the field and eighth grabbing 6.6 rpg.
- The junior forward has recorded 25 blocks and four double-doubles so far this season.
- His 63.5 percent of shooting from the field in conference play ranks fourth in the league.
- Included on the All-WCC First Team and named WCC Player of the Year, Hachimura has scored double-digits in 31 of the 32 games this season, reaching 20 or more points 19 times.
- His team secured the No. 1 seed in the West Region for the NCAA Tournament with a record of 30-3.
Ja Morant, Murray State
- Morant is averaging 24.6 ppg and 5.5 rpg and leading the nation in assists (10.3 apg).
- Named the OVC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year, he is in line to become the first Division I basketball player to average 20 ppg and 10 apg and has already become the first Division I player in 20 years to record 40 points, 11 assists and five steals in a regulation game.
- The sophomore guard is eighth nationally in scoring (24.6 ppg), fifth in double-doubles (19) and one of two players to have multiple triple-doubles this season.
- His 19 double-doubles are just three off the nation’s lead, and he is the only player in the top 20 nationally in double-doubles under 6’6″ tall.
- With a record of 27-4, Morant’s team landed in the No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region.
Grant Williams, Tennessee
- Williams was named Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year for the second consecutive season and first to repeat since Arkansas’ Corliss Williamson in 1994 and 1995.
- Having earned unanimous first-team all-SEC honors for a second straight season, he leads the SEC in scoring (19.0), ranks second in the conference in field-goal percentage (.565) and sixth in rebounding (7.6).
- The junior forward is the 16th player in Tennessee basketball history to earn first-team All-America honors—and just the second in the last 39 years.
- Williams has successfully converted on 31 of 34 “and-1” attempts (.912).
- His team is seeded No. 2 in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament.
Zion Williamson, Duke
- Williamson clinched both the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) honors, becoming the third player in ACC history to sweep the two individual awards.
- The freshman forward was named all-ACC first team and ACC all-defensive team.
- He leads the ACC in steals (2.21) and ranks fourth in the conference in blocked shots with 1.85 bpg.
- His 21.6 ppg scoring average is second among conference players, and he’s third in rebounding at 8.8 rpg.
- With a 29-5 record this season, Williamson’s team secured the No. 1 seed in the East Region of the NCAA Tournament.
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. Each winner will be awarded with the Citizen Naismith Trophy, produced and provided by Herff-Jones, the leading provider of graduation and educational products and services, including class rings and jewelry. A replica trophy will be donated by Herff-Jones to the player’s college.
The four finalists were chosen by 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 2018-19 college basketball season. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, a premier, CPA-led business advisory firm.
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 Bona, Citizen Watch Company, Jersey Mike’s and Werner Ladder.
Citizen, a pioneer in watchmaking and innovative technology since 1918, promotes excellence and creativity with a deep-rooted respect for craftsmanship. Citizen advocates “Better Starts Now,” searching for and accomplishing goals that are cause driven. In this respect, Citizen aligns with organizations and personalities that reflect the values of the brand including the Naismith Awards and Good360.
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