KU’s Jalen Wilson, K-State’s Jerome Tang named finalists for Naismith Awards

Kansas Jayhawks junior forward Jalen Wilson is one of four finalists this year for the Naismith Trophy, given to the national college basketball player of the year, while Kansas State Wildcats coach Jerome Tang is a finalist for the Naismith coach of the year trophy.

Wilson, who’s also a nominee for the Wooden Award and Oscar Robertson Trophy player of the year honors, is the second Jayhawk in as many years to be a finalist for the award, joining Ochai Agbaji last season. The last Kansas player to win the award was Frank Mason III in 2017.

In his final season at KU, Wilson posted the best stats of his career on his way to being named the unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year. He averaged 20.1 points per game, becoming just the third Jayhawk to average more than 20 a game during the Bill Self era. Wilson also averaged 8.3 rebounds per contest and had 12 double-doubles for the year.

Joining Wilson as Naismith Trophy finalists this year are junior center Zach Edey from Purdue, senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis from Indiana and senior forward Drew Timme from Gonzaga.

Tang is the first coach in Kansas State history to lead the program to the Sweet 16 in his first season since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, getting it there with the three seed in the East region. That’s also the Wildcats’ highest NCAA tournament seed since 2009-10.

It was a year of “first since” moments for K-State. The Wildcats reached the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2018, then stayed in the top 15 for the final 10 weeks of the season. They also cracked the top five for the first time since Nov. 2010. This was also the first time since 2018-19, the program’s last Big 12 championship, that K-State finished with a winning record.

The other coach of the year candidates are Matt Painter from Purdue, Kelvin Sampson from Houston and Shaka Smart from Marquette.

Fans are able to vote for the Naismith Award winners both on its website, NaismithFanVote.com, as well as on Twitter at both the @MarchMadness and @NaismithTrophy handles. Fans will account for 5% of the total vote, with votes being accepted through 11 a.m. central time on March 28.

The Naismith Awards for player and coach of the year will be given out on Sunday, April 2, Final Four weekend.