NEW ORLEANS — In the storied history of Kentucky basketball, no player had ever been considered the nation’s best in that season.
Freshman Anthony Davis continued his run of national player of the year awards by accepting the Associated Press honor on Friday.
He beat Kansas’ Thomas Robinson for the honor. Davis received 43 votes, Robinson 20 and Michigan State’s Draymond Green two. The voting occurred before the NCAA Tournament began.
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Davis, whose Wildcats take on Louisville in a national semifinal on Saturday, becomes the second freshman to win the honor. Texas’ Kevin Durant won the 2007 AP award.
Kentucky won seven NCAA championships and produced a slew of excellent players. Some, like Ralph Beard, Alex Groza and Bill Spivey played before national players of the year were identified.
Later in seasons that starred players like Kyle Macy, Kenny Walker, Jamal Mashburn, Ron Mercer, Tayshaun Price and John Wall, someone else was deemed a little better.
Not this year.
The 6-10 forward from Chicago had already been named SEC player, freshman and defensive player of the year for a season that has produced averages of 14.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 blocks while shooting 64.2 percent.
He had been named national player of the year by Sporting News and had earned the Rupp Trophy as the nation’s top player.
Robinson, who averages 17.7 points and 11.8 rebounds, was named national player of the year by ESPN.com. His Jayhawks meet Ohio State in a national semifinal on Saturday.
Among national player of the year awards to be announced: Wooden Award, Naismith Award and Basketball Times player of the year.
The major All-America teams have been announced with a consensus first team of Davis, Robinson, Green, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and Creighton’s Doug McDermott.