LEXINGTON, Ky. – Just a day after being named to the John. R. Wooden Award Late Season List, Kentucky freshmen De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk are among the midseason top 30 for the 2017 Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year as announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Thursday.
The list will be trimmed to 10 semifinalists on March 1.
This adds to the growing list of midseason honors for UK’s electrifying tandem. In addition to earning Naismith and Wooden Award honors, they’ve also been among the candidates for the United States Basketball Writers Association’s Oscar Robertson Player of the Year trophy and the Wayman Tisdale Award which recognizes the nation’s top freshman. Furthermore, Fox was tabbed to the Bob Cousy Award watch list and Monk to the Jerry West Award’s midseason list honoring the best point guard and shooting guard, respectively.
Fox and Monk join South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell as the Southeastern Conference’s representatives on the Naismith’s list. Fox and Monk are two of the eight total freshmen among the midseason 30 candidates.
Monk, a freshman from Lepanto, Arkansas, is one of the most prolific scorers in the country. Averaging 21.9 points per game, he is ranked 10th 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 14 games of 20 points or more, including a Kentucky freshman record 47 points vs. North Carolina in December, a 34-point outburst at Ole Miss and 35 points in an overtime win over Georgia at home.
He’s the only freshman in program history and just the third player overall to post games of 34 or more points at a neutral-site game, an away game and a home game in the same season.
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 77 3-pointers through 19 games, ahead of Jamal Murray (72) at this point in the season when he went on to break the freshman record with 113 3-pointers a season ago.
Fox is a speedy, yet dynamic playmaker who has the ability to create for his teammates and score at a high rate at the same time. He is currently averaging 16.0 points, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals. His 5.5 assists per game ranks 33rd in the country, fourth among all freshmen and first in the SEC, while his 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio is third in the conference. His 126 assists are already the sixth most by a John Calipari freshman in a single year.
Fox already has a team-leading four double-doubles by way of points and assists, which includes his historic triple-double against Arizona State – the second triple-double in school history and first since Chris Mills did it Dec. 27, 1988. The Houston native has 11 games of six assists or more.
Former winners of the Naismith award include, Pete Maravich (1970), Larry Bird (1979), Michael Jordan (1984), Marcus Camby (1996), Kevin Durant (2007) and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in 2012.