For the third consecutive season, the United States Basketball Writers Association’s District IV Player of the Year has called Lexington, Kentucky, home. Malik Monk became the sixth Kentucky player ever to earn the honor when he was tabbed the 2017 winner on Tuesday.
Tyler Ulis (2016) and Willie Cauley-Stein (2015) won the last two honors before Monk’s distinction this season. Other winners include Anthony Davis in 2012, John Wall in 2010 and Jodie Meeks in 2009. The USBWA began district honors in 2004.
In addition to earning Player of the Year by the USBWA, Monk is also a member of the All-District IV team. He was joined by teammate De’Aaron Fox on the 10-man team.
Monk has racked up a number of notable honors, including second-team All-America selection by the Sporting News, USA Today and NBCSports.com.
Monk electrified crowds with his prolific scoring outbursts and high-flying violent dunks throughout the regular season. He averaged 21.2 points per game, edging South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell for the regular-season scoring lead by .001 of a point.
He is ranked among the top 20 nationally in scoring and second among all freshmen. No John Calipari-coached player has ever averaged more than 21.2 points for an entire season (Dajuan Wagner at Memphis in 2002). He’s scored in double figures in all but one game this season and has 17 games of 20 points or more, including a Kentucky freshman record 47 points vs. North Carolina in December.
The freshman from Lepanto, Arkansas, 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.
He already ranks second among freshman in program history with 656 points scored. That mark is also good for 14th among all players in program history for a single season.
Fox was the spearhead to the nation’s fifth-highest scoring team in the country. He dished out a league-high 5.0 assists per game and also ranked in the top 10 in scoring at 15.5 points per game.
He made history in November, becoming just the second player in Kentucky history to register a triple-double. Fox had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the historic game vs. Arizona State. It marked the first triple-double since Chris Mills’ had 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on Dec. 27, 1988. Against Stephen F. Austin, in the season opener, Fox dished out 12 assists to set two program records. The 12 dimes were the most by any Wildcat in his debut, and the most of any player in a season-opening game since assists began being kept during the 1971-72 season.
Fox was at his best in clutch situations, including games at Vanderbilt, Georgia and Texas A&M. Against the Aggies, in helping UK clinch the SEC crown outright, Fox scored 13 of his team-high 19 points after halftime.
Kentucky returns to action in the opening round of the SEC Tournament on Friday. UK will take on the winner of the Georgia-Tennessee game on Friday at 1 p.m. ET. The game is set to air live on the SEC Network.
For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and on the web at UKathletics.com.
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