ST. LOUIS (USBWA) - LSU forward Ben Simmons is the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week for games ending the week of Jan. 7. Simmons was selected by CBSSports.com's Matt Norlander, in partnership with the U.S. Basketball Writers Association.
Norlander's popular weekly freshman watch column will continue to feature nation's the top freshmen each week in addition to the national player of the week. Later in the season, the USBWA will release a midseason watch list before naming finalists for the award. This season marks the first time a weekly national freshman of the week will be selected and, each Tuesday through Feb. 23, a standout first-year player will be chosen for the honor.
Norlander writes of the Melbourne, Australia, product: "His 18.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks across the Bayou Bengals' wins over Auburn and Mississippi State have certainly earned him recognition. ... He leads all freshmen in points, rebounds and player efficiency rating. He's also becoming a better mid-range shooter. Simmons, who still gets plenty of his points at the rim, is starting to make defenses respect his 16-footer.
On the year, he's shooting 56.9 percent from 2-point range. He was 16 for 26 in his most recent two games. He's only getting better, and it's no surprise LSU is tracking at the same projection as well. It's about time his defense got more respect and recognition, too."
The Integris Wayman Tisdale Award is to be presented to the national freshman of the year at the College Basketball Awards on April 11, 2016, at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. The Oscar Robertson Trophy and the Henry Iba Coach of the Year Award will also be presented at the gala to be held annually following the NCAA Men's Final Four.
The USBWA has chosen a national freshman of the year since the 1988-89 season when LSU's Chris Jackson was the recipient. Last season, Duke's Jabari Parker became the fourth winner of the Wayman Tisdale Award. Other notable previous winners of the national freshman of the year award include Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Chris Webber.
The Tisdale Award winner will receive a statuette designed by nationally-recognized sculptor Shan Gray.
The late Wayman Tisdale was a three-time USBWA All-American at the University of Oklahoma. Following a stint on the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team, he played 12 seasons in the NBA before retiring in 1997 to focus on a blossoming jazz music career. In March 2007, he was diagnosed with cancer and, following a courageous and difficult battle that included the amputation of his right leg in 2008, he passed away in May 2009.
The Integris Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award is produced by Access Sports, an Oklahoma City-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit foundation responsible for creating the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award. Access Sports produces all events associated with the award, including the annual awards dinner. Proceeds from the activities affiliated with the award are used to support various worthy charitable causes, including providing opportunities for disadvantaged youth to participate in basketball leagues, clinics, and training throughout the state. In addition, Access Sports supports the Wayman L. Tisdale Foundation which helps fund prosthetics for those who cannot afford the cost on their own and may not be covered by insurance.