ST. LOUIS – University of Arizona junior guard Nick Johnson has been named one of four national finalists for the 2014 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year Trophy presented by AT&T, furthering his chances to become the first UA player to win one of college basketball’s most prestigious awards.
Four Arizona players have claimed various National Player of the Year honors – most recently Jason Gardner in 2003 – but none have been honored as the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year. Johnson is joined as a 2014 Naismith finalist by Doug McDermott of Creighton, Jabari Parker of Duke and Louisville’s Russ Smith.
Johnson, who has been named a first-team All-American by both the Sporting News and the USBWA, leads Arizona in scoring (16.3) and ranks second on the team in assists (2.7) and steals (1.1). He is shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 77.2 percent from the free throw line, while averaging a career-high 3.9 rebounds and posting a 1.57 assist-to-turnover ratio to help lead the Wildcats to their second regular-season Pac-12 title under head coach Sean Miller.
The Gilbert, Ariz., native has reached the 20-point mark a team-high 11 times on the year and has one double-double. He became the 48th member of Arizona’s 1,000-point club in mid-January, scoring in double figures in 32 of 35 games. His 570 points on the season mark the second-best single-season total in Miller’s tenure.
He currently ranks eighth in the Pac-12 overall ranking in scoring (16.3), 11th in three-point field goals per game (1.6), 14th in assists per game (2.7) and 15th in steals per game (1.1). He finished the conference season ranked 10th in scoring (16.2), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.8), seventh in steals per game (1.5) and 14th in assists per game (3.0) in Pac-12 games.
Johnson has also been named Pac-12 Player of the Year, first-team All-Pac-12, Pac-12 All-Defensive Team, USBWA District IX Player of the Year and first-team USBWA All-District 20 in recognition of his efforts. He was the Most Outstanding Player at the NIT Season Tip-Off and a member of the Pac-12 Tournament All-Tournament Team, and has also been named a finalist for both the Wooden Award and Robertson Trophy.
In addition to helping lead Arizona to the regular-season Pac-12 title and the Pac-12 Tournament championship game, Johnson has helped Arizona top the AP poll for a program-record eight-consecutive weeks this season. This year’s UA team posted the best start (21-0) and longest winning streak (21 games) in program history, and currently ranks second on the program’s single-season wins list.
For the latest updates on Arizona men’s basketball and an inside look at the program, follow @APlayersProgram on Twitter.