Auburn Front Court Duo Voted Freshman and Defensive Player of the Year
Contributed by NABC
The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) bestowed two of its top NCAA Division I awards to Auburn All-Americans Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler on Tuesday.
Smith was voted as the NABC Freshman of the Year presented by Adidas, while Kessler was named the NABC Defensive Player of the Year presented by Marriott Bonvoy – both firsts in program history. The awards were voted on by NABC-member coaches across NCAA Division I.
Earlier this month, the Tigers’ dynamic front court duo were selected to the NABC Division I All-America Teams – Smith on the second team and Kessler on the third team.
Smith, the SEC Freshman of the Year, averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds during his rookie season at Auburn. The 6-foot-10-inch forward had 14 games of 20-or-more points and recorded seven double-doubles. He broke the school’s single-season freshman record for points (576) and 3-point field goals made (79).
Kessler, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, finished the season averaging 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, and his 155 blocks are the most in Division I – also a single-season record in the school record books. He turned in two triple-doubles this season, the most nationally, including 15 games with 5-or-more blocked shots.
Together, Smith and Kessler led Auburn to the SEC regular-season championship title, the program’s first-ever No. 1 national ranking in both polls and a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
They were joined by Arizona’s Tommy Lloyd, who earned NABC Division I Coach of the Year honors, and Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, who was selected as both the NABC Division I Player of the Year and the NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year.
DIVISION I AWARDS
NABC Division I Coach of the Year – Tommy Lloyd, Arizona
NABC Division I Player of the Year – Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky
NABC Pete Newell Big Man of the Year – Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky
NABC Freshman of the Year presented by adidas – Jabari Smith, Auburn
NABC Defensive Player of the Year presented by Marriott Bonvoy – Walker Kessler, Auburn.