Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk has already rewritten the Kentucky record books as one of the more prolific scorers in program history. He now owns the official designation as the top shooting guard of the 2016-17 college basketball season with the awarding of the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award.
Monk was announced as the 2017 winner during ESPN’s College Basketball Awards Show on Friday. Monk was on site in Los Angeles to receive the prestigious award presented annually by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to the top shooting guard in the country.
The UK sharpshooter, who announced Tuesday his intentions to declare for the NBA Draft and sign with an agent, is the first player in program history to win the award and the second in school history to win one of the Hall of Fame’s historic positional awards after Tyler Ulis was the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year a season ago. Monk is the third player to ever win the West Award, joining Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell in 2015 and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield in 2016 as the others to do so.
The Southeastern Conference’s Freshman of the Year, Monk beat finalists Marcus Foster (Creighton), Luke Kennard (Duke), Peter Jok (Iowa) and Bryce Alford (UCLA) to win the award.
A national committee comprised of top college basketball personnel determined the initial watch list of 20 candidates in October, trimmed it down to 10 in February and named the final five finalists in March. The winner of the West Award was determined by a combination of fan votes and input from the Basketball Hall of Fame’s selection committee.
The Jerry West Award is named after Jerry West who attended West Virginia University and averaged 24.8 points and 13.3 rebounds per game in his three varsity seasons. He led his team to the NCAA Championship game in 1959 and was named a consensus All-American in 1959 and 1960. In the summer of 1960, he was co-captain of the U.S. men’s basketball team and won an Olympic gold medal. As a professional player, West played 14 seasons in the NBA with the Lakers, making the All-NBA First Team 10 times. West won an NBA championship in 1972 and was named the NBA Finals MVP in 1969 despite his team not winning the championship. In 1996, he was named a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Monk posted one of the greatest all-time individual seasons for an elite scorer in school history while leading the Wildcats to a regular-season and SEC Tournament title. UK finished the year with a 32-6 overall record and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Monk became one of the nation’s most dynamic and exciting players to watch throughout the season. He concluded the year owning the UK freshman record of points scored with 754, passing Jamal Murray’s output of 720 from a season ago. His record-breaking 754 points is also fourth all-time in UK’s history books regardless of class, trailing only Dan Issel (948; 1970), Jodie Meeks (854; 2009) and Jamal Mashburn (767; 1992).
He finished his freshman season averaging 19.8 points per game, second among all freshman nationally, and reached double-figure scoring in all but two games this season.
The Lepanto, Arkansas, native produced 18 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 scored at least 20 points in a half. In addition to scoring 37 points at home vs. Georgia and 30 in a half against Georgia, he hit the game-winning shot vs. North Carolina and the game-tying shot to force overtime in the win at home vs. the Bulldogs.
Monk made 104 3-pointers on the season, not far behind Jodie Meeks’ school record of 117.
Just last week, Monk was named a consensus NCAA second-team All-American, becoming John Calipari’s eighth consensus All-American in his eight years as head coach of the Wildcats.
Among the honors Monk has received this postseason:
· Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year
· NCAA Consensus All-America Second Team
· SEC Player of the Year (AP)
· SEC Newcomer of the Year (AP)
· SEC Freshman of the Year (Coaches)
· All-SEC First Team (AP/Coaches)
· All-SEC Freshman Team (Coaches)
· AP All-America Second Team
· NABC All-America Second Team
· USBWA All-America Second Team
· Sporting News All-America Second Team
· Sporting News Freshman All-America Team
· USA Today All-America Second Team
· NBC Sports All-America Second Team
· Wooden Award All-American
· USBWA District IV Player of the Year
· USBWA All-District IV Team
· Wooden Award Finalist
· NABC All-District 21 Team