Riley Kugel Named to Jerry West Award Watch List

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida sophomore guard Riley Kugel has been named to the Jerry West Award Watch List, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Tuesday.

Named after Class of 1980 Hall of Famer and 1959 NCAA Final Four Most Valuable Player Jerry West, the annual honor, in its tenth year, recognizes the top shooting guards in Division I men’s college basketball. A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates.

Kugel adds the honor to his preseason second-team All-Southeastern Conference accolades, announced last week. An Orlando native who earned SEC All-Freshman honors last season, Kugel averaged 9.9 points per game during his freshman campaign, including 17.3 over the final 10 games of the season.

“Each of the student-athletes nominated for the 2024 Jerry West Award has the same skillset that made Jerry West a household name, and they should be very proud of this accomplishment,” said John L. Doleva, President and CEO of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. “Our committee, alongside Jerry, is honored to watch this exceptional group and work together to narrow down the list as the season progresses.”

In his true freshmen season, Kugel averaged 9.9 points per game, 2.8 rebounds, 1.0 assists, while working to a 45.6 field goal percentage. The Orlando, Florida native came on particularly strong at the end of the year, logging seven 15+ point games in Florida’s last nine contests, including three 20+ point games.

“I think he’s had a fantastic offseason, and it started just with his approach after the year,” Head Coach Todd Golden said on Kugel. “I think the way he was very detailed, and had a plan in terms of coming back and getting back in the weight room, working on his individual game, being around the guys a lot, he made a concerted effort to really take that on coming back, and I think that limited distractions for him and allowed him to really focus on his game.”

“He’s been really consistent all summer, his body is the best it’s ever been,” Golden added on Kugel. “The way he’s playing is the best it’s ever been in terms of translating into an NBA player.”

2024 Jerry West Award Candidates

Caleb Love, Arizona

Tramon Mark, Arkansas

Ja’Kobe Walter, Baylor

Trey Alexander, Creighton

Jeremy Roach, Duke

Johnell Davis, FAU

Riley Kugel, Florida

LJ Cryer, Houston

Terrence Shannon Jr., Illinois

Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas

Antonio Reeves, Kentucky

Kam Jones, Marquette

Tyson Walker, Michigan State

Fletcher Loyer, Purdue

Aidan Mahaney, St. Mary’s

Jordan Dingle, St. John’s

Santiago Vescovi, Tennessee

Stephon Castle, UConn

Boogie Ellis, USC

Justin Moore, Villanova

Nick Marcinko
Nick is a recent graduate from the University of Florida with a degree in Telecommunications. He is passionate about all sports but specifically baseball and football. Nick interned at Inside the Gators and worked part time with Knights247 before joining the Gator Country family. Nick enjoys spending his free time golfing and at the beach.