CRAWFORD | UK's Cauley-Stein a finalist for the John Wooden Awar - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | UK's Cauley-Stein a finalist for the John Wooden Award

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AP photo. AP photo.
 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — University of Kentucky Center Willie Cauley-Stein has been named one of 15 finalists for the John Wooden Award, given annually to college basketball's player of the year.

Cauley-Stein, who should be a leading candidate for national defensive player of the year, has been a shutdown player inside and out for the unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Wildcats this season.

The 7-footer leads the the team in steals with 44 (1.4 per game) and ranks second in blocks with 49 (1.6 per game). He also leads the Wildcats in scoring (11.5) and rebounds (8.2) in UK's six games vs. ranked opponents.

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Nobody in the nation combines his ability to guard players on the perimeter with his ability to dictate games around the rim.

But he's added a major offensive element to his game as a junior, consistently making mid-range jump shots and adding more post moves around the rim.

Not only is he one of UK's best players, he's one of its most improved since arriving on campus.

“Words can't describe it, I guess,” he said when asked about his development after Saturday's win over Florida made the Wildcats 31-0 to close the regular season. “It's one of those things that you look back on later in life and realize you made history. Now, you're living it. It's not really history yet. I feel like, myself, I'm just now reaching the surface. I still have a lot left to show or to give.”

CRAWFORD | Perspective on UK's unbeaten regular season

Cauley-Stein is the first player in UK history to amass 200 or more career blocks and 100 or more career steals. He's also one of just eight players in program history with 500 or more rebounds, 100 or more blocks, and 75 or more steals.

He's also a finalist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, presented by the United States Writers Basketball Association, and a semifinalist for the Naismith Trophy.

The other Wooden Award finalists: Ron Baker (Wichita State), Malcolm Brogdon (Virginia), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), Jerian Grant (Notre Dame), Tyler Haws (BYU), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), Georges Niang (Iowa State), Jahlil Okafor (Duke), Bobby Portis (Arkansas), D'Angelo Russell (Ohio State), Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga), Delon Wright (Utah).

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