Men's Basketball

Friday, April 1, 2022

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Oscar Tshiebwe

Barry Bedlan

Associated Press Player of the Year Press Conference

BARRY BEDLAN: It’s my pleasure today to present the AP Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year.
Since 1967 the recipient of this award has been selected by the same panel of journalists that decides the weekly AP Top 25.
Voting for the award is conducted at the end of the season before the start of the NCAA Tournament. Past recipients include Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Lew Alcindor, now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Wilton and eventual New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson to name a few.
This year’s recipient becomes only the second player from Kentucky to receive the trophy, with the other being Anthony Davis in 2012.
He’s also only the fourth SEC player to be honored with it with the others being Davis, Shaquille O’Neal and Pete Maravich.
He led the nation in rebounds, averaging 15.1 per game. He led Kentucky and the SEC in scoring with 17.4 points per game. He posted 25 double-doubles, second most nationally. And he also led his team in steals and blocks, being the only major conference player to average at least 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.
He was the unanimous pick as AP’s Player of the Year for the Southeastern Conference and was Kentucky’s first AP First-Team All-American since 2016. A native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this 6’9″ forward transferred midway through his second season at West Virginia and sat out the rest of last season.
Once eligible he helped lead an impressive turnaround for the Wildcats who were 9-16 last season. They finished 25-6 this year and were a No. 2 seed in the tournament. This year’s AP Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year is Kentucky’s Oscar Robertson.
OSCAR TSHIEBWE: Thank you. First of all, I would like to thank God, because I feel like you cannot get without him. If I did not trust God and let him lead me in everything I do.
And second, I would love to thank my coaches and everybody on the staff for always believing in me and always work with me through the process. My teammates, I thank my teammates for everything, too, because I could not do it on my own. I needed somebody like my teammates to encourage, to be with me in everything we’ve done together.
And I’m very grateful to be here. And I thank the organization for choosing me as player of the year. I’m very thankful for them too. And I’m very happy to be here. Very happy, and I’m very excited. This is one of the things, like, it is everybody’s dream to receive that trophy right there. But I’m sitting right here receiving that trophy. That makes me feel very happy and I’m really grateful for everything. Thank you.
Q. Oscar, what was the reason you improved so much and you earned this fantastic award?
OSCAR TSHIEBWE: I think the reason because I really went through a lot. And I knew who I was because I’m a hard worker. I can work and I can show people what I can do by trusting in God. I just work harder and believe that people, God has put me in their hands to help me.
And I never stop fighting. I fight until the end. We ended up doing something special, never quit, never stop fighting. I always fight until the end.
Q. What was the biggest highlight of the season for you?
OSCAR TSHIEBWE: This year, like, for me, to come on this team, I promised coach, I said I’m coming in. I don’t worry about scoring. You can find some people who can help to score, but I’m coming here to fight for rebounds. I promise you I want to average 20 rebounds. I still can’t believe I’m getting the trophy even without averaging 20 rebounds, I promised coach.
So he was like — rebounding was the biggest thing for me. And the coaches say, no, you can’t just do rebound. You can do a lot of different things. We spent a lot of time working on my offense. Actually turned out to be great. And I started making jump shots, attacking the rim, do a lot of different things. So that was the biggest thing for me.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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