The Atlanta Tipoff Club on Thursday unveiled its 50-man watch list for the 2013-14 Naismith Trophy, and – just as they did earlier this month with the John R. Wooden Award watch list – Tennessee’s Jordan McRae and Jarnell Stokes both made the cut.
The Naismith Trophy, presented by AT&T, is awarded annually to the women’s and men’s college basketball players of the year. First awarded in 1969 to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor, later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Naismith Trophy has become one of the most prestigious national honors awarded each year to the top players in the nation.
McRae, a senior wing from Midway, Ga., has led the Volunteers in scoring in every game so far this season. He leads the team in scoring (20.3 ppg), assists (3.3 apg) and minutes played (33.0 mpg).
The second-leading vote-getter in the media voting for the preseason SEC Player of the Year Award, McRae is one of the nation’s top returning scorers, having averaged 19.2 ppg in SEC play as a junior last year.
Stokes is a junior power forward from Memphis, Tenn., who also was named the 2013-14 Lute Olson Preseason All-America Team. One of the top rebounders in America, Stokes led the SEC in rebounding during conference play last season, pulling down 10.7 rpg to go along with a scoring average of 13.1 ppg.
Stokes boasts 19 double-doubles in 53 career games as a Vol and is on pace to break the program’s career record for offensive rebounding average (he currently averages 3.57 orpg).
Tennessee was one of 13 schools to place multiple players on the watch list, along with Baylor, Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, New Mexico, Ohio State, UCLA and VCU.
Each year, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s board of selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country, vote on player performance to ultimately select the winners.
Unique among national awards of this caliber, the Naismith Trophy allows fans to contribute an unprecedented 25 percent of the final vote for the awards through text messaging.
Fans can view the entire 50-man watch list at www.NaismithAwards.com.