SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Kentucky sharpshooter Malik Monk is the lone first-year player among the 10 finalists for the 2017 Jerry West Award, announced by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday. The honor, in its third year, recognizes the nation’s top shooting guard.
Monk, a freshman from Lepanto, Arkansas, is off to a historic start. Averaging 21.7 points per game, he is ranked 13th nationally in scoring, second among all freshmen and first in the Southeastern Conference. No John Calipari-coached player has ever averaged more than 21.2 points for an entire season (Dajuan Wagner at Memphis in 2001-02). He’s scored in double figures in every game this season and has 12 games of 20 points or more, including a Kentucky freshman record 47 points vs. North Carolina in December and another 34-point outburst at Ole Miss.
Monk has proven to be one of Calipari’s most dynamic scorers ever. Routinely a feature on SportsCenter’s Top 10 for his jaw-dropping dunks, he’s also proven to be one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters. He’s made 63 3-pointers through 19 games, ahead of Jamal Murray (55) at this point in the season when he went on to break the freshman record with 113 3-pointers a season ago.
The award is named after Hall of Famer and 1959 NCAA Final Four Most Valuable Player Jerry West.
A national committee of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates in October and the same committee trimmed the list to the midseason list of 10 finalists. The winner will be announced at the ESPN’s College Basketball Awards show on April 7.
Monk joins classmate De’Aaron Fox as finalists for a positional award bestowed by the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Fox was named one of 10 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award on Monday.
The duo were also both recognized as midseason watch lists members for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Oscar Robertson Trophy and the Wayman Tisdale Award honoring the nation’s top player and freshman of the year, respectively.