Kentucky's Sheppard wins 2024 Wayman Tisdale Award as National Freshman of the Year

INDIANAPOLIS (USBWA) – Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard, one of the country’s top three-point shooters, the Southeastern Conference’s Freshman of the Year and a member of its all-conference second team, has won the 2023-24 Wayman Tisdale Award as the U.S. Basketball Writers Association's National Freshman Player of the Year.

Sheppard will formally receive the award at the upcoming USBWA College Basketball Awards Banquet in St. Louis on April 17, hosted by the Missouri Athletic Club. The USBWA has presented a men's National Freshman Player of the Year Award since the 1998-99 season. This is the 14th season for the award to be named for the late Tisdale, a three-time USBWA All-American at Oklahoma and a 12-year NBA veteran before retiring in 1997 to focus on a blossoming jazz music career.

Sheppard is Kentucky’s third Wayman Tisdale Award winner, following Anthony Davis (2011-12 season) and John Wall (2009-10, prior to the Tisdale naming when the award was the National Freshman Player of the Year), and the third consecutive player from the SEC to win the award following Jabari Smith of Auburn (2021-22) and Alabama’s Brandon Miller last season. The SEC has now had seven winners since Chris Jackson of LSU won the first one 33 seasons ago.

The 6-3 guard from London, Ky., was the only player in the country who has amassed at least 75 steals, dished out at least 140 assists and made at least 70 3-pointers through March 9. Sheppard had four assists and two steals while scoring 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting in Kentucky’s last game, a 97-87 loss to Texas A&M last Friday in the SEC Tournament. The Wildcats’ season continues on Thursday as they begin their record 61st NCAA Tournament taking on Oakland in the first round in Pittsburgh, Pa.

From, Sheppard’s 3-point percentage of 52.6 percent leads the country, his true-shooting percentage (70.4 percent) is fourth and his effective field-goal percentage (68.2 percent) ranks seventh.

Sheppard grabbed national notice in Kentucky’s come-from-behind win at Mississippi State on Feb. 27, pouring in a career-high 32 points with five boards, seven assists, two blocks and two steals. He scored 23 points after halftime and had 11 in the final 93 seconds. It was the only game in the NCAA this season in which a player had 30 or more points, seven-plus assists, five-plus rebounds, two-plus blocks and two-plus steals, and one of only 11 such games going back to 1996-97. It is only the second by an SEC player in that time frame.

He followed that two weeks later with a 27-point, six-rebound, five-assist showing in the Wildcats’ 85-81 upset at No. 4 Tennessee to close the regular season, sinking a career-high seven treys. Sheppard is the first Kentucky player in school history to have three games with at least 25 points, at least five boards and at least five assists in a single season.

Sheppard also leads the Wildcats with 144 assists on the season. His 4.52 per game average ties for third in the league. The assist total is the eighth-most in single-season history by a UK freshman and he is the 33rd player in program history to have 140 or more assists in a season.

He is third on the team in scoring averaging 12.8 points per game and has topped double-figure scoring in 21 games.

Defensively, Sheppard has rankled opponents with his 80 steals this season, the second-highest total in program history since steals became an official statistic in 1979. Only Rajon Rondo (87) has more. Sheppard passed Wayne Turner into second with two steals last Friday against Texas A&M. The 80 steals and 2.5 per-game average are both eighth in the nation and lead the SEC. Rondo’s 2.294 per game average is UK’s single-season leader. No other player averaged at least 2.0 per game in program history. Sheppard became the first player in UK history to register five steals in three-consecutive games, collecting five thefts against Ole Miss (2/13), Auburn (2/17) and LSU (2/21).

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association was formed in 1956 at the urging of then-NCAA Executive Director Walter Byers. With some 800 members worldwide, it is one of the most influential organizations in college basketball. It has selected a women's All-America team since the 1996-97 season. For more information on the USBWA and its award programs, contact executive director Malcolm Moran at 814-574-1485. For additional info about covering the awards banquet, contact Jim Wilson with the MAC (314-539-4488).


2022-23: Brandon Miller, Alabama
2021-22: Jabari Smith, Auburn
2020-21: Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
2019-20: Vernon Carey Jr., Duke
2018-19: Zion Williamson, Duke
2017-18: Trae Young, Oklahoma
2016-17: Lonzo Ball, UCLA
2015-16: Ben Simmons, LSU
2014-15: Jahlil Okafor, Duke
2013-14: Jabari Parker, Duke
2012-13: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
2011-12: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
2010-11: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

2009-10: John Wall, Kentucky
2008-09: Tyreke Evans, Memphis
2007-08: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
2006-07: Kevin Durant, Texas
2005-06: Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
2004-05: Marvin Williams, North Carolina
2003-04: Luol Deng, Duke
2002-03: Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
2001-02: T.J. Ford, Texas
2000-01: Eddie Griffin, Seton Hall
1999-00: Jason Gardner, Arizona
1998-99: Quentin Richardson, DePaul
1997-98: Larry Hughes, Saint Louis
1996-97: None selected
1995-96: None selected
1994-95: None selected
1993-94: Joe Smith, Maryland
1992-93: Jason Kidd, California
1991-92: Chris Webber, Michigan
1990-91: Rodney Rogers, Wake Forest
1989-90: Kenny Anderson, Georgia Tech
1988-89: Chris Jackson, LSU