He may not have won a national championship, but University of Kentucky guard Malik Monk will not leave school empty-handed as a one-and-done.
The freshman who led the Wildcats in scoring this season won the Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award on Friday night in Los Angeles.
The honor was part of the College Basketball Awards televised live on ESPN2.
“Just blessed,” Monk said after receiving the award. “Blessed to be here and thankful for the opportunities I had.
“I was the first one in Kentucky history, so that’s a big deal. I’m just thankful to be in the position I was.”
Monk, who has declared for the NBA Draft, was among five finalists for the Jerry West Award, which was determined by a combination of online fan voting and a Basketball Hall of Fame selection committee. The other finalists were Creighton’s Marcus Foster, Duke’s Luke Kennard, Iowa’s Peter Jok and UCLA’s Bryce Alford.
Monk averaged 19.8 points and shot a team-high 39.7 percent from three-point range this season. His breakout game was a 47-point masterpiece in a 103-100 victory over North Carolina in Las Vegas on Dec. 17. He shot a sizzling 8-for-12 on three-pointers, including the game-winner with 16.7 seconds left.
It was the most points scored by a UK player since Jodie Meeks went for 54 against Tennessee in 2009. No player in Coach John Calipari’s eight seasons at Kentucky has scored more.
“Coach Cal told me to drive,” Monk said of his clutch three. “But I was hot …”
Although Monk said the award’s namesake played “before my time,” he was familiar with one aspect of West’s playing career. “ I know he's on the (NBA) logo. That's a pretty big thing.”
About his decision to turn pro after one season as so many Calipari-coached players have before him, Monk said, “I thought it was the best decision for me. Me and my brother talked about it before. And if I had a great season in college, I was going to go. So I think I had a pretty good season.”
His new trophy is a testament to that.
Staff writer Jerry Tipton contributed to this report.