For the first time in John Calipari’s nine seasons as head coach at Kentucky, the Cats have not had a player-of-the-week or freshman-of-the-week honor from the Southeastern Conference over the first four weeks of the season.
For these Cats, who have started five freshmen in every game and had some standout performances, it seems particularly odd. This year’s award recipients haven’t been slouches by any means, but some arguments for UK players could be made for at least the freshman awards.
In week one, UK’s Hamidou Diallo averaged 17 points, three assists and three rebounds against Utah Valley and Vermont. But the SEC freshman nod went to LSU’s Tremont Waters, who poured in 27 points with six assists, five boards and five steals in his Maravich Center debut against Alcorn State.
In week two, UK’s Kevin Knox averaged 18.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in games against Kansas and East Tennessee State. But the SEC freshman nod went to Alabama’s John Petty, who averaged 22 points, five rebounds and two assists in wins over Lipscomb and Alabama A&M. Part of Petty’s appeal that week was a school-record 10 threes (10 of 13) against Alabama A&M. He also set the SEC mark for three-point accuracy in a game at 76.9 percent.
In week three, UK’s Nick Richards averaged 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds in games against Troy, Fort Wayne and Illinois-Chicago, including a breakout 25-point, 15-rebound performance in the Fort Wayne contest. The SEC freshman award that week was given to Alabama’s Collin Sexton, who averaged 26.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and four assists against UT Arlington, BYU and 14th-ranked Minnesota. Against Minnesota, Sexton set an Alabama freshman scoring record with 40 points, including 31 in the second half. Sexton scored 15 of those points in the final 7:32 while the Tide were playing with just three players on the court.
Last week, Knox went for 20 points and seven rebounds and Diallo contributed 19 points and six boards in a win over Harvard in the team’s only game. But it was Auburn’s Chuma Okeke, who averaged 11 points and eight rebounds in wins at Dayton and against George Mason, who received the honor announced Monday.
During Calipari’s tenure, UK has averaged 2.4 SEC freshman honors in the first four weeks of the season. (The SEC names freshman and player of weeks 17 times each season).
Only once previously under Calipari has UK had no more than one freshman of week in first four weeks: in 2011-12 when Anthony Davis won the first award.
UK players were named freshman of week in each of the first five weeks of 2009-10 (Eric Bledsoe first, then four straight times by John Wall). UK players were named freshman of week 11 times (out of 17) in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2014-15.
Which UK players were named freshman of week the most times? Brandon Knight (six in 2010-11), Terrence Jones (five in 2010-11), John Wall (five in 2009-10) and Devin Booker (five in 2014-15).
The SEC has named a UK player its Player of Week much less frequently. Of the 140 SEC players of week in the Calipari era (counting this season), a UK player has won it 18 times. By comparison, 68 SEC freshmen of the week have played for Kentucky in that span.