Kentucky freshman guards Brandon Boston Jr. and Terrence Clarke have been named to the 2020 Naismith Trophy Men’s Player of the Year Watch List, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Thursday.
The duo is among 50 candidates for the 2021 award, given annually to the national player of the year. Anthony Davis, who collected virtually every major national player of the year award in 2012, is the lone Wildcat to win the Naismith Trophy in Kentucky’s decorated history.
UK is one of nine schools with two or more preseason candidates. Gonzaga leads all schools with four.
The Southeastern Conference has six preseason picks, including UK’s two.
A list of the midseason 30 team will be released in early February, followed by the 10 national semifinalists and four finalists on March 4 and March 16, respectively. Players who do not make the watch list are still eligible to be selected for the midseason 30 team. The 2021 Naismith Trophy will be awarded during the Final Four at the Naismith Awards Brunch on April 4.
Boston, a consensus five-star prospect and Kentucky’s top-ranked player in the 2020 class, is a preseason All-SEC First Team selection by both the media and the league’s coaches. Boston averaged 19.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game at Sierra Canyon his senior season. He helped lead the team to a 30-4 mark and a No. 2 national ranking. Boston was named the California Male Athlete of the Year and the California Basketball Player of the Year by USA Today. He was also tabbed a First Team Naismith All-American, Second Team Sports Illustrated All-American, SLAM Magazine All-American, California Mr. Basketball and the Gold Coast League MVP.
Boston was selected to the McDonald’s All American Game, the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic and the Jordan Brand Classic. He averaged 22.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League circuit prior to his senior season. Boston earned 2018-19 MaxPreps Boys Basketball Junior All-American Team honorable mention distinction after averaging 18.4 points, 5.4 rebounds 1.9 steals while leading his previous high school in Norcross, Georgia to the state semifinals as a junior.
Earlier this month, Boston was named to the Julius Erving Award preseason watch list. The Erving Award goes to the nation’s top small forward, as chosen by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Clarke, a consensus five-star prospect, was ranked as high as No. 8 in the final Rivals rankings and one of the top shooting guards in the country. He was named to the Sports Illustrated All-American Third Team, earned Naismith All-American honorable mention and was selected to the McDonald’s All American Game, the Jordan Brand Classic and the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic.
The 6-foot-7 guard was a member of the Brewster Academy team that won the 2019 National Prep Championship. Clarke led his team back to the 2020 finals with a 34-3 record before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the rest of the event. For his efforts, Clarke was named to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Councill AAA Player of the Year and was a NEPSAC AAA First Team selection. During his prep career, Clarke averaged 16.2 points per game to go along with 5.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in the 2019 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.
Clarke was on the Jerry West Award preseason watch list. The West Award is given to the nation’s best shooting guard by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the family of Naismith Awards annually recognizes the top men’s and women’s college and high school basketball players and coaches. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the men’s and women’s college basketball defensive players of the year, as well as lifetime achievement awards to basketball officials and outstanding contributors to the game.
Kentucky will begin its season Nov. 25 vs. Morehead State in the first of three games in the Bluegrass Showcase at Rupp Arena on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The game will air live on SEC Network.
UK’s 2020-21 revised schedule was released last week. It features 27 games before postseason play, nine against some of the best nonconference opponents in the country and 18 in the always difficult SEC.
UK Athletics also recently announced a reduced capacity/distanced seating plan to host fans at Rupp Arena in the healthiest manner possible for the 2020-21 season based on the recommendations from state health officials. Anticipated attendance for the season will be up to 15% of normal arena capacity. All plans are subject to change based on evolving information as well as local, state and national public health developments. Information available tickets and game-day changes can be found here.