JAMIE H. VAUGHT: Kentucky Freshman Speedster De'Aaron Fox Is A Joy To Watch
Two of Kentucky’s several freshman stars -- Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox (pictured) -- have played consistent basketball.
They have played a significant part in their team’s early success during the 2016-17 campaign, helping the Wildcats to a 4-0 mark and this week’s No. 1 national ranking.
And both Monk and Fox even got the SEC Freshman of the Week honors in the past two weeks.
After I wrote a feature column on Monk last month, let’s take a look at Fox, the dynamic 6-3 point guard from Houston.
Going into Wednesday afternoon’s matchup with Cleveland State (SEC Network, 1:00 p.m.), Fox has scored in double figures in all four games and led UK in assists in every game so far. In addition, he made his first 21 free throws before missing the first one against Duquesne Sunday night.
Last month, ESPN’s Seth Greenberg, the former coach at Virginia Tech, praised high-motor speedster Fox when he watched an early season practice. “This guy is a blur,” tweeted Greenberg.
While broadcasting the Champions Classic doubleheader last week in New York for ESPN, Dick Vitale tweeted, “De’Aaron Fox is the real deal.”
UK radio network analyst and ex-Cat standout Mike Pratt also likes what he has seen from Fox so far. While the youngster certainly has room for improvement, Pratt commented Fox reminds him of John Wall, the former Kentucky star who was NBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 2010.
“His speed with ball is equal to John's and typically makes good decisions off the bounce,” Pratt told this columnist last week. “Both struggled early in the season with their jumper. That should develop as year goes on. Game will slow down for him and he will see different defensive looks as year goes on and will react accordingly. (Fox has) a skill that only game situations can develop.”
Fox said he is okay with the comparison to Wall, who is now with the Washington Wizards.
By the way, Fox is leading the SEC in assists with an average of 6.8 (27 assists in four games) going into Monday’s (Nov. 21) games.
But the Sporting News’ preseason All-American (second team) can switch roles, if necessary, with sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe, who is the Wildcats’ leading scorer with an 18-point average.
“It can be switched easily,” said Fox. “Anyone can lead in assists and anyone can definitely lead in scoring because we have so many different ways to score.”
Playing with experienced Briscoe in the backcourt has made the job easier for Fox, who is also learning to use speed, his No. 1 weapon, to his advantage.