LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK ATHLETICS)– Kentucky’s freshman backcourt tandem of Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox was named All-America by USA Today on Monday. Monk earned second-team distinction, while Fox was tabbed to the third team.
Monk was joined on the second team by Josh Jackson (Kansas), Justin Jackson (North Carolina), Luke Kennard (Duke) and Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga). Third-team honorees along with Fox included Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Lauri Markkanen (Arizona), Monte Morris (Iowa State) and Johnathan Motley (Baylor).
Together, UK’s backcourt duo made up the top-scoring freshman tandem in the nation at 36.9 points per game. Monk captured the Southeastern Conference’s scoring title at 21.2 points per game, while Fox paced the league in assists per game with an average of 5.0 dimes en route to leading Kentucky to its 48th regular-season SEC title.
Arguably the most dynamic backcourt in the country, Fox and Monk combined for eight SEC weekly honors for the season and both have been among a slew of postseason watch lists for national player of the year accolades.
This marks the third-consecutive season at least one Wildcat was named to USA Today’s All-America teams. Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray were first- and second-team honorees, respectively, a season ago. Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns were both first team selections in 2015.
The NCAA recognizes consensus All-Americans based on four “major” NCAA-recognized All-America teams: the Associated Press, Sporting News, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Monk electrified crowds with his prolific scoring outbursts and high-flying violent dunks throughout the season. He averaged 21.2 points per game, edging South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell for the scoring title by a fraction of a point. He is the fourth freshman in the history of the SEC to win the regular-season scoring title.
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.
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.
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