BOSTON - Sam Houston State senior Kai Mitchell has been named to the 2019-20 Lou Henson Award preseason watch list, CollegeInsider.com announced this week.

The Lou Henson Award is presented annually to the nation's top Division I mid-major player.

Mitchell had a stellar debut as a junior college transfer for the Bearkats last season. He earned Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year and third-team all-conference honors after averaging 12.5 points and 7.6 rebounds in 33 games, 32 of which he started.

The Haverstraw, New York native also had 37 assists, 34 steals and 24 blocks last season.

The Sam Houston State’s season-opening victory Tuesday night, Mitchell scored 18 points and pulled down eight boards as the Bearkats cruised to a 95-57 victory over Paul Quinn.

“This is another nice preseason recognition for Kai and our program,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “Obviously with his and our team’s body of work last season, this is something that is noteworthy, but Kai understands the hard work and dedication it will take to put it into fruition.”

The Lou Henson Award honors the former Illinois and New Mexico State coach who won 775 games in 41 seasons. Henson is the winningest coach in Illinois basketball history with 423 victories.

During his 21 seasons (1975-1996), Henson led the Fighting Illini to 16 postseason appearances, including 12 NCAA tournaments and a Final Four appearance in 1989.

Henson, who is also the all-time winningest coach in New Mexico State history with 289 victories, is one of only 11 coaches to take two different schools to the NCAA Final Four. His teams have made 19 NCAA appearances and four NIT appearances.

The 2019-20 Lou Henson National Player of the Year Award will be announced in April 2020 in Atlanta, site of the men's Division I NCAA Basketball Championship.

Players on teams from the following conferences are eligible for the award: America East, Atlantic Sun, Big Sky, Big South, Big West, Colonial, Great West, Horizon, Independents, Ivy, Metro Atlantic, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Patriot, Southern, Southland, Southwestern, Summit, Sun Belt and West Coast.