What a great season we’ve had. Go and take a look at our All-America teams, and when you see who made the list, it’s easy to argue that this season was as deep from a star perspective as almost any men’s college basketball has had over the previous decade. Because of that, we had a pretty compelling race for CBS Sports 2021-22 Player of the Year, and an even better chase for Coach of the Year. Even Freshman of the Year was a strong three-way push between Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith and Paolo Banchero.
But the votes are in. As has become our custom, CBS Sports’ end-of-season awards were voted on after the Elite Eight. Our reasoning for this is both relatively simple while being rational: we don’t want to allow the entirety of the NCAA Tournament to overly influence who we vote for, but at the same time, we seek to have these awards be reflective of the season as a whole. And postseason play is a significant factor in that. So our All-America teams and our three big award winners below were considered for the entirety of the regular season, plus the conference tournaments, plus all but three games of the NCAA Tournament. This is not just a regular-season set of awards.
However, as you’ll see, some of the hardware we’ve handed out was earned thanks to production from November through the early part of March. It was a special season that’s appropriately enough ending in a special way with four blue blood programs chasing a championship in the Big Easy.
Check out the 2021-22 CBS Sports All-America teams
Without further ado, here are our winners for Player, Coach and Freshman of the Year.
CBS Sports 2021-22 Player of the Year
Oscar Tshiebwe | Kentucky | Junior | Forward
There really isn’t anything to write about Tshiebwe that hasn’t already been written. Simply put, he was a statistical monster all season and the sport’s most consistently great player. Obviously, things didn’t end well because of Kentucky’s loss to Saint Peter’s in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But there’s really no intelligent argument that runs counter to the idea of Tshiebwe being the Player of the Year, which is why he was a unanimous pick by our panel. – Parrish
CBS Sports 2021-22 Coach of the Year
Kelvin Sampson | Houston
After leading the program to its first Final Four appearance since 1984 last season, Sampson had to replace three of five starters from that squad. That task was made demonstrably more challenging when key guards Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark were lost for the season due to injury before Christmas. In spite of that adversity, Sampson coached the Cougars to the Elite Eight. Along the way, they picked up an AAC regular season title, an AAC Tournament title and earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That Sampson extracted so much from this group — particularly one that had so many new and moving pieces — is a testament to his coaching acumen. – Cobb
CBS Sports Freshman of the Year
Paolo Banchero | Duke | Forward
Banchero not only led all freshmen in college hoops in production — he was No. 1 in points per game among power conference players and top-five in rebounding — but what helped him clinch FOY honors is his level-up on the big stage. He’s averaging 18.5 points and seven boards per game in this year’s March Madness, a showing that thus far has included 22 points and 16 points against top-five defenses in Texas Tech (Sweet 16) and Arkansas (Elite Eight), respectively. His ability to operate as the team’s No. 1 option and a reliable clutch-time performer has taken the Blue Devils to within spitting distance of sending out Coach K in a high note as he rides off into the sunset of retirement. – Boone