LEXINGTON, Ky. – Just a mere day away from the 2017-18 season tipping off, freshmen Kentucky men’s basketball players Hamidou Diallo and Kevin Knox continued to add to their list of preseason accolades. The Citizen Naismith Trophy preseason watch list was unveiled on Thursday with UK’s freshman tandem accompanying a list of 50 potential candidates for the Player of the Year honor.
The 2017-18 season marks the 50th presentation of the honor and will be presented April 1 by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. A list of the midseason 30 will be released on Feb. 14, 2018.
On Monday, UK’s duo was named to the Oscar Robertson Trophy watch list. They have both been named preseason favorites for All-Southeastern Conference awards and are on the Naismith Hall of Fame’s preseason positional award watch lists.
Named in honor of James Naismith, the founder of the sport, Anthony Davis is the only Wildcat to have ever won the award when he took home Player of the Year honors in 2012.
A 6-foot-5 explosive guard, Diallo was a top-10 prospect in the class of 2017 by many national pundits. Both 247 Sports and Scout rated him as the No. 1 overall shooting guard.
During his final high school season, Diallo led Putnam Science Academy to a 38-3 overall record and an appearance in the state semifinals. He is a two-time all-state honoree and averaged 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists during his senior campaign.
A preseason candidate for the Hall of Fame’s Jerry West Award (nation’s best shooting guard), Diallo has been a mainstay in USA Basketball and traveled to Egypt this summer with to the FIBA U19 World Cup under the direction of John Calipari. He averaged 10.9 points and 3.9 rebounds in 18.4 minutes a game for the United States during seven games. Diallo enrolled at Kentucky in January and spent the spring semester with the Cats becoming a vital practice player during their run to the Elite Eight. He averaged 14.7 points in UK’s three exhibition wins this preseason.
Knox is entering his freshman season at Kentucky as a top-10 prospect in the class of 2017, according to Scout, Rivals and ESPN. The 2017 Mr. Florida winner averaged 28.5 points and 11.3 rebounds a game for Tampa Catholic as a senior, where he finished with 2,760 career points. He led the Crusaders to a runner-up finish in the state tournament.
A 2017 McDonald’s All American, Knox scored 15 points and added three rebounds in the annual all-star game. He also scored 12 points in the Jordan Brand Classic and was a 2017 Naismith High School All-American Second Team selection and a three-time All-State First Team member.
Knox, a preseason candidate for the Hall of Fame’s Julius Erving Award (nation’s best small forward), has been a mainstay with USA Basketball, winning gold medals at the 2015 FIBA Americas U16 Championship and the 2016 FIBA U17 World Cup. He led the Wildcats in scoring in their three exhibition victories with a 19.3 average, in addition to 6.3 boards per game.
Kentucky opens the regular season Friday at 7 p.m. vs. Utah Valley in Rupp Arena.
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