LOS ANGELES – Kentucky men’s basketball freshman guard Malik Monk (pictured) is one of 15 players on the John R. Wooden Award national ballot, announced Saturday, March 4 by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The Wooden Award is presented annually to the top player in college basketball.
The finalists are candidates for the Wooden All American Team, out of which the Wooden Award winner will be selected. All 15 players on the ballot have proven to their universities that they are making progress towards graduation.
Voting will take place from March 13-20. Nearly 1,000 members of the national college basketball media make up the majority of the voting body. They take into consideration a player’s entire season of play, as well as opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Fans may vote through the fan voting site at woodenawardvote.com.
The Wooden Award All American Team, consisting of the nation’s top 10 players and the five finalists for the Wooden Award, will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament and will be the focus of a 30-minute show March 27 on ESPNU at 8 p.m. The winner of the award will be announced during the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show on April 7.
Monk, one of five freshman finalists, certainly has the credentials to win the national player of the year award.
The freshman from Lepanto, Arkansas, is one of the most prolific scorers in the country. 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 17 games of 20 points or more, including a Kentucky freshman record 47 points vs. North Carolina in December.
Monk is the only freshman in program history with four 30-point games, and six times this season he has scored at least 20 points in a half.
Among Monk’s most notable moments this season include the game-winning shot vs. North Carolina, a game-tying shot to force overtime vs. Georgia (a game the Wildcats won in extra time), 30 second-half points in a comeback victory vs. Florida, and a back-breaking 3-pointer vs. Vanderbilt in another second-half barrage.
Monk has proven to be one of Calipari’s most dynamic scorers ever. Routinely a feature on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays for his jaw-dropping dunks, he’s also proven to be one of the nation’s top 3-point shooters. He’s made 92 3-pointers through 30 games, just behind Jamal Murray (95) at this point in the season when he went on to break the UK freshman record with 113 3-pointers a season ago.
The Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the 2017 John R. Wooden Award will be announced during the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show on April 7.
Previous winners of the Wooden Award include such notables as Larry Bird (1979), Michael Jordan (‘84), Tim Duncan (‘97), Kevin Durant (‘07), Trey Burke (’13), Doug McDermott (‘14), Frank Kaminsky (’15) and Buddy Hield (’16). UK’s Anthony Davis won it in 2012.
Photo by Jamie H. Vaught