P.J. Washington Tapped for Karl Malone Preseason Watch List

P.J. Washington (Vicky Graff Photo)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – For the third consecutive day, a Kentucky men’s basketball player has been added to a preseason watch list by the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. PJ Washington was tapped as one or 21 candidates for the 2018 Karl Malone Award, which is presented annually to the top power forward in the country.

With Hamidou Diallo already on the preseason watch list for the Jerry West Award, freshman forward Kevin Knox was announced Wednesday as one of 21 candidates for the 2018 Julius Erving Award, which is presented annually to the top small forward in the country.

Washington is looking to become the first winner of the award in school history.

The Malone Award be presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the nation’s top power forward for the fourth consecutive season. The Hall of Fame announced its original list Thursday.

The three previous winners of the award include Baylor’s Johnathan Motley (2017), Iowa State’s Georges Niang (2016) and Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell (2015).

By mid-February, the watch list of 21 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 2018 Karl Malone Award will be presented at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show in Los Angeles on April 6. Players do not have to be on the watch list to win the award until the five finalists are announced.

Washington is entering his freshman season at Kentucky rated as high as the No. 12 overall player in his class by ESPN. He was named to the All-USA Boys Basketball Second Team following a season in which he was a McDonald’s All-American and a Jordan Brand Classic participant. Additionally, he won most valuable player honors as the inaugural Allen Iverson Roundball Classic.

He started all five games and averaged 10.0 points and 4.0 rebounds for the gold-medal winning 2016 USA Men’s U18 National Team in Chile. He averaged a team-high 12.9 points per game and also added 5.1 rebounds per outing en route to a third-place finish at the 2017 FIBA U19 World Cup playing for Team USA under UK head coach John Calipari.

The Malone Award is named after Karl Malone, who attended Louisiana Tech University. He led the Bulldogs to a Sweet 16 appearance and earned All-Southland honors in his three seasons while averaging 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Malone achieved great success during his 19 seasons in the NBA as a 14-time NBA All-Star (1988-98, 2000-02), 11-time All-NBA First Team player (1989-99) and a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. He also won two Olympic gold medals (1992, 1996).

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