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NEW ORLEANS — Anthony Davis was busier than any of the other players in the Final Four.
The Kentucky freshman had to make the circuit of Player of the Year presentations Friday, not that he was complaining.
“There were a lot of awards yesterday and today,” Davis said with a big smile. “It’s a great feeling, especially as a freshman. I’ve been working hard and now it’s rewarding.”
Davis became the first Kentucky player and second freshman to be selected The Associated Press’ Player of the Year. He picked up his latest trophy, along with Coach of the Year Frank Haith of Missouri.
It was Davis‘ second ceremony of the day, and he had to make a quick exit to get to practice, part of the preparations for the national semifinal matchup against Louisville on Saturday.
“This is great to be here and hopefully we can win the national championship and accomplish our goal,” he said. “Even if we come up short we still had a great season.”
The 6-foot-10 Davis sure did.
He averaged 14.3 points — on a team with six double-figure scorers — 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks while shooting 64.2 percent from the field. His block total is a school record and third-best ever for a freshman. He was the Southeastern Conference’s Player, Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year.
“My expectations were nothing like this; I wasn’t planning on any awards,” he said of how he approached his first — and what many project will be his only — season in college basketball. “I have to thank my teammates for those lob passes for easy baskets and for them getting beat off the dribble for all those blocked shots. Without them there are no awards.”
No Kentucky player had won the award which started in 1961, and the only other freshman to win it was Kevin Durant of Texas in 2007.
“I’m surprised because you’ve had a lot of great players from Kentucky,” Davis said. “Hopefully I’m starting something, and a lot of Kentucky players will win this award.”
Thomas Robinson of Kansas was second with 20 votes, and Draymond Green of Michigan State received the other two votes.
Jimmer Fredette of BYU won the award last season.
Haith’s first season at Missouri got off to a rough start and ended with a second-round thud in the NCAA tournament. In between his unpopular selection to replace Mike Anderson at Missouri and the Tigers’ stunning loss to 15th-seeded Norfolk State, things went very well.
By John R. Bolton
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