Atlanta, GA (SportsNetwork.com) - Wisconsin senior Frank Kaminsky, Duke freshman Jahlil Okafor and juniors Willie Cauley-Stein of Kentucky and Jerian Grant of Notre Dame were named finalists for the Naismith Trophy as the nation's top collegiate men's basketball player.
The four finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's national voting academy, which based selections on individual performances throughout the 2014-15 men's college basketball regular season. The winner will be revealed April 5 in Indianapolis.
"We have four tremendously talented individuals playing key roles for their highly successful teams, so we believe that any of the finalists are worthy and deserving of the Naismith Trophy," said Eric Oberman, Atlanta Tipoff Club executive director.
Kaminsky, the Big Ten Player of the Year, leads the Badgers in scoring with 18.2 points per game and adds 8.0 rebounds per contest. He helped lead the team to both the conference regular-season and tournament championships. Should Kaminsky win, he'll become the sixth overall Big Ten player to earn the honor, and the third in six years, following Trey Burke of Michigan (2013) and Ohio State's Evan Turner (2010).
Grant averages nearly 17 points per game while dishing out 6.6 assists this season for Notre Dame, which won the ACC Tournament title. He was named All- ACC first-team, the ACC Tournament's Most Valuable Player and finished second in voting as the ACC Player of the Year. Notre Dame's lone Naismith Trophy winner was Austin Carr in 1971.
Cauley-Stein was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year, a member of the All- SEC first-team and the SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player. He led Kentucky in steals (44) while ranking second in blocked shots, and averaged 9.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. Earlier this season, Cauley-Stein became the first player in school history to collect 200 or more career blocks and 100 or more career steals. If he wins the Naismith Trophy, he would join Anthony Davis (2012) as the only winners in school history.
Okafor, the lone freshman in the group, was also a finalist for the 2014 Naismith High School Trophy. In his first season at Duke he is averaging 17.7 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 66.9 percent this season. He was named ACC Player of the Year, becoming the first freshman to win such an honor in conference history, and also the national freshman of the year.
Duke has won more Naismith Trophies (7) than any other school, and the Atlantic Coast Conference leads with 16.