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Three freshman Cats on early season Naismith watch list

ATLANTA — Three Kentucky Wildcats — all freshmen — are on the early season watch list for the Naismith Trophy, given annually by the Atlanta Tipoff Club to the top player in college basketball.

Freshmen Nerlens Noel, Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress made the initial list of 50. Former Wildcat Anthony Davis, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 NBA Draft, won the award last year, the first-ever Naismith Trophy for a Kentucky player.

The 50-player watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2012-13 season. The Naismith Trophy will be awarded April 7 in Atlanta.

The three freshmen make up Kentucky’s four-man, top-ranked recruiting class. All three players were consensus top-20 players in the 2012 recruiting class.

The trio made impressive debuts in UK’s 72-69 season-opening win last week against Maryland. Goodwin scored 16 points, Poythress collected eight points and seven rebounds, and Noel posted four points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will compile a midseason list of the top 30 players in the nation. In March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will narrow the list to the four finalists.

Previous Naismith winners include two there-time winners in Bill Walton and Ralph Sampson, Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant.

For more information, visit naismithawards.com.