MANHATTAN, Kan. – Seniors Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell were each named finalists for the Lute Olson Player of the Year Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top player.
The tandem were the only players from the same school, while they were among 5 from the Big 12 on the list, joining Texas’ Marcus Carr, Baylor’s Adam Flagler and Kansas’ Jalen Wilson.
The other finalists included Oral Roberts’ Max Abmas, North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, Memphis’s Kendric Davis, Toledo’s RayJ Dennis, Purdue’s Zach Edey, Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, UCLA’s Jamie Jaquez Jr., Marquette’s Tyler Kolek, Liberty’s Darius McGhee, Alabama’s Brandon Miller, San Jose State’s Omari Moore, Iowa’s Kris Murray, UNC Asheville’s Drew Pember, Houston’s Marcus Sasser, N.C. State’s Terquavion Smith, Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis and Miami’s Isaiah Wong.
The award is named for Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson, who won 776 games in 34 seasons, 24 of which were spent at Arizona. He led the Wildcats to 23 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, four Final Fours and the 1997 NCAA Championship.
The honor was yet another for Johnson, who was recently named one of 15 players to the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award and a finalist for the Julius Erving Award, which is given annually to the top small forward in college basketball by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993. Earlier this week, he was chosen as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year as well as All-Big 12 First Team by both the league coaches and AP.
A 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward from Norfolk, Va., Johnson is currently averaging a team-best 17.8 points on 51.9 percent (203-of-391) from the field, including 42.4 percent (42-of-99) from 3-point range, and 72.5 percent (103-of-142) from the free throw line, to go with a team-best 7.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 34 minutes per game. He is one of only two players (Kansas’ Jalen Wilson) to rank in the top-5 in the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding both in overall and league-only games.
A 5-foot-7, 160-pound point guard from Harlem, N.Y., Nowell was recently named a finalist for the Bob Cousy Point Guard Award as well as to the All-Big 12 First Team and the All-Defensive Team by the league coaches.
Nowell is averaging 17 points on 37.6 percent (146-of-388) from the field, including 35.6 percent (74-of-208) from 3-point range, and 88.5 percent (162-of-183) from the free throw line to go along with a Big 12-best 7.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in 36.4 minutes per game. He ranks in the Big 12’s top-3 in 13 categories, including tops in assists (238), assists/game, free throws made (162) and attempted (183), free throw percentage, steals (76), steals/game and minutes.
No. 12/12 K-State (23-8, 11-7 Big 12) will play No. 22/23 TCU (20-11, 9-9 Big 12) tonight at 8:30 p.m., CT in the final quarterfinal game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.