Johnson, Nowell Named to Naismith Player of the Year Midseason Team

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Seniors Keyontae Johnson and Markquis Nowell were among 28 candidates selected to the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Men’s Player of the Year Midseason Team on Wednesday (February 8).

Johnson and Nowell were one of just two duos to be named to the team, which included Baylor’s backcourt tandem of Adam Flagler and Keyonte George. The Big 12 was represented well with seven players on the list, including Texas’ Marcus Carr, Flagler and George, TCU’s Mike Miles Jr., and Kansas’ Jalen Wilson.

The team also included Oral Roberts’s Max Abmas, North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, Xavier’s Souley Boum, Memphis Kendric Davis, Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis, Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson, Purdue’s Zach Edey, Duke’s Kyle Filipowski, Providence’s Bryce Hopkins, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr., Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner, Marquette’s Tyler Kolek, Alabama’s Brandon Miller, Iowa’s Kris Murray, Penn State’s Jalen Pickett, UConn’s Adama Sanogo, 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.

Both Johnson and Nowell were recently named to Oscar Robertson Trophy Midseason Watch List by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) as well as the Late Season Watch List for the John R. Wooden Award.

Johnson and Nowell have been one of the most prolific tandems in the country, as they combine to average 34.9 points per game on 46 percent (269-of-584) shooting, including 38.5 percent (84-of-218) from 3-point range, and 80.5 percent (214-of-266) from the free throw line. They are the fourth-most prolific scoring duo among the power conferences, including the second-best in the Big 12. They have combined for 15 games of 20 or more points, including a collective 120 points in the 2 wins at No. 6/6 Texas and No. 19/16 Baylor during the week of Jan. 3-7. It was the most combined points by 2 players over a 2-game span in the last 50 seasons, surpassing the 113 scored by Askia Jones and Anthony Beane between March 24-28, 1994.

A 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward from Norfolk, Va., Johnson is averaging a team-best 18.0 points on 52.2 percent (153-of-293) from the field, including 39.3 percent (29-of-59) from 3-point range, and 73.8 percent (96-of-130) from the free throw line, to go with 7.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 33.0 minutes per game. He has scored in double figures in all 24 games so far, which includes seven 20-point games.

Johnson ranks among the top-10 in 5 categories in the Big 12, including third in scoring and fourth in rebounding, while he and Kansas’ Jalen Wilson are the only players in the conference to rank in the top-5 in scoring and rebounding in both overall and conference-only games.

A 5-foot-8, 160-pound point guard from Harlem, N.Y., Nowell is averaging 16.9 points on 39.9 percent (116-of-291) from the field, including 36.9 percent (55-of-149) from 3-point range, and 86.8 percent (118-of-136) from the free throw line to go along with a Big 12-best 7.8 assists, 3.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals in 36.1 minutes per game. He became the school’s single-season assists leader (187) in the win over TCU on Tuesday, eclipsing the 35-year-old record of 186 set by Steve Henson in 1987-88. He is one of just three active Division I players to total more than 1,500 points, 500 assists and 200 steals in a career.

Nowell ranks second nationally in assists/game (7.8 apg.) and third in total assists (187), while he is among the top-30 in 4 other categories, including 14th in total steals (54), 15th in steals/game (2.25), 16th in free throws made (118) and 26th in minutes (36.0). He has six games of 10 or more assists this season, while he has five double-doubles (points/assists), including the school’s first 30-10 double-double with 32 points and 14 assists in the win at No. 19/16 Baylor on Jan. 7. He became the first Wildcat to post consecutive 30-point games since Michael Beasley in 2008 with his 36 and 32-point efforts at No. 6/6 Texas and No. 19/16 Baylor.

No. 12/11 K-State (19-5, 7-4 Big 12) begins a 2-game road swing on Saturday when the Wildcats travel to Lubbock, Texas to take on Texas Tech (12-12, 1-10 Big 12) at 6 p.m., CT on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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