SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – When Kentucky guards De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk shared MVP honors at the Jordan Brand Classic game in April, the Kentucky faithful knew UK had hauled in another impressive backcourt. Just a day after Fox was named to the Bob Cousy Award watch list to honor the nation’s top point guard, Monk was tabbed to the Jerry West Award watch list recognizing the country’s best shooting guard.
Monk is one of 20 candidates on the preseason watch list for the West Award, which will be presented for the third consecutive season to the nation’s top shooting guard by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame announced its original list Tuesday.
By mid-February, the watch list of 20 players will be narrowed to 10. In March, five finalists will be presented to the award’s namesake and the Hall of Fame selection committee. The winner of the 2017 Jerry West Award will be presented at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles on April 7. Players do not have to be on the watch list to win the award until the five finalists are announced.
An explosive 6-foot-3 guard, Monk is capable of scoring in a variety of ways. He captured the 3-point shooting contest at the McDonald’s All American Game and finished runner-up in the slam dunk contest showcasing his athleticism.
Monk was the 2016 Arkansas Gatorade High School Player of the Year in addition to earning the state’s Mr. Basketball award. He averaged 28.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game as a senior at Bentonville. Known for his scoring ability, Monk set a single-game school scoring record with 53 points in a game during his final campaign.
A consensus five-star athlete out of high school, Monk was rated as the No. 9 overall player by ESPN and Rivals, No. 10 by 247Sports and No. 13 by Scout.
Other previous winners of the Jerry West Award include: Buddy Hield of Oklahoma (2016) and D’Angelo Russell from Ohio State (2015).
The Jerry West Award is named after Jerry West who attended West Virginia University and averaged 24.8 points and 13.3 rebounds per game in his three varsity seasons. He led his team to the NCAA Championship game in 1959 and was named a consensus All-American in 1959 and 1960. In the summer of 1960, he was co-captain of the U.S. men’s basketball team and won an Olympic gold medal. As a professional player, West played 14 seasons in the NBA with the Lakers, making the All-NBA First Team 10 times. West won an NBA championship in 1972 and was named the NBA Finals MVP in 1969 despite his team not winning the championship. In 1996, he was named a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.