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Ulis one of four finalists for Naismith Trophy; Poythress on Arthur Ashe Jr. Athlete of the Year list

Kentucky sophomore guard Tyler Ulis is one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy, awarded annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the nation’s most outstanding player of the year.

Ulis is a finalist along with Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine. Ulis is the only non-senior of the four.

Tyler Ulis is a finalist  for the Naismith Trophy along with Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine. Ulis is the only non-senior of the four (UK Athletics Photo)

Tyler Ulis is a finalist for the Naismith Trophy along with Virginia’s Malcolm Brogdon, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield and Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine. Ulis is the only non-senior of the four (UK Athletics Photo)

Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, founder of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy is awarded annually to the women’s and men’s college basketball players of the year. This year’s trophy will be presented at the Naismith Awards Brunch on April 3 in Houston, site of the Final Four.

First awarded in 1969 to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Naismith Trophy was sculpted by Marty C. Dawe of Atlanta and has become one of the most prestigious national honors awarded each year to the top women’s and men’s college basketball players in the nation. Each year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, vote on player performance to ultimately select the winners.

Ulis’ 2015-16 season ended on Saturday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Chicago native posted one of the greatest all-time individual seasons for a point guard in school history while leading the Wildcats to a share of the Southeastern Conference regular-season championship, the SEC Tournament title and a 27-9 overall record.

En route to becoming one of the nation’s elite players, Ulis ended the season with 246 assists, setting the new single-season school record previously held by John Wall. Until the season’s final game, Ulis had a streak of 28 consecutive games with four or more assists, the longest streak in school history since at least 1972-73.

Ulis has already been named to the Sporting News All-America First Team, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association All-America Second Team, and the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year by both the league’s coaches and the Associated Press.

Poythress Named 2016 Arthur Ashe Jr. Athlete of the Year Finalist

Kentucky senior forward Alex Poythress has made the final list for the 2016 Arthur Ashe Jr. Athlete of the Year award. Poythress is one of just two basketball players and one of four total student-athletes named as male finalists.

Poythress joined Corey Brown (men’s soccer at Queens University of Charlotte), Marcus Paige (men’s basketball at North Carolina) and Paul Pitts III (football at San Diego State) on the final list. The male and female athlete of the year will be announced April 7.

This year marks the third season Poythress has been named an Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar.

The finalists were chosen from 30 semifinalists and more than 1,000 outstanding minority student-athletes nominated by their respective college or university.

In 1992, “Black Issues In Higher Education” magazine, now “Diverse,” established the Sports Scholars Awards to honor undergraduate students of color who exemplify the standards set by tennis great Arthur Ashe Jr.

A scholar and athlete, Ashe sought to expand opportunities for young people. Each year Diverse invites every postsecondary institution in the country to participate in this awards program by nominating their outstanding sports scholars. In addition to their athletic ability, students named Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholars must exhibit academic excellence as well as community activism.

To be included, students need to compete in an intercollegiate sport, maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.2, and be active on their campuses or in their communities. The NCAA Office of Inclusion has partnered with Diverse to support this standout class of scholar-athletes. Approximately 1,000 male and female students from across the country were nominated.

Past recipients of the award include: Baylor University’s (2011) Robert Griffin III, Heisman Trophy winner and former Washington Redskins quarterback; the University of Tennessee’s (2003) Kara Lawson, an ESPN analyst who played for the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs; San Diego State University’s (1993) Marshall Faulk, NFL Hall of Famer; and the University of Kansas’ (1996) Jacque Vaughn, former head coach of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

Poythress concluded his UK career over the weekend with 966 career points, 597 rebounds and 77 blocks. He’s just the 12th player in Kentucky’s storied history to post 900 points, 500 rebounds and 70 blocks in a career.

In his final season at Kentucky, Poythress averaged 10.2 points and a team-high-tying 6.0 rebounds per game. He recorded four double-doubles, tied for second on the team.

Earlier this month Poythress was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-America Second Team, the first Wildcat to make CoSIDA’s Academic All-American teams since Mark Pope in 1995.

The Clarksville, Tenn., native graduated in just three years with a degree in business marketing. He earned a 3.517 undergraduate grade-point average and is now pursuing a master’s of science in kinesiology and health promotion with an emphasis on sport leadership. He finished his first semester of grad school with a 4.0 GPA.

Poythress has appeared on the SEC Academic Honor Roll during every year of college. He has been named to the Athletic Director’s honor roll three times, which honors the student-athlete with the highest GPA of his team.

From UK Athletics

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