Tuesday, March 13, 2018

KU senior Devonte’ Graham one of four finalists for Naismith Trophy

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and the Jayhawks celebrate their 71-66 win over West Virginia as time expires, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and the Jayhawks celebrate their 71-66 win over West Virginia as time expires, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.


Two days before he embarks on leading the Kansas basketball team through the NCAA Tournament, senior Devonte’ Graham reached a different kind of final four.

The Jayhawks’ leader and point guard learned Tuesday he is one of four finalists for the James A. Naismith Trophy.

A year after his former KU teammate, Frank Mason III, took home the national player of the year award, Graham is in competition with Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Villanova’s Jalen Brunson for this season’s Naismith Trophy.

In the past 10 days, Graham has been named the Big 12 Player of the Year, All-Big 12 First Team, one of five finalists for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award, All-America First Team by The Sporting News, and the USBWA, and on the Wooden Award Final Ballot.

Graham also picked up Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team honors after averaging 14.3 points and 10.0 assists in guiding Kansas to the tourney title, landing the Jayhawks the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament in the process.

On every national player of year watch list, Graham is the only player in NCAA Division I this season averaging 17.0-plus points, 7.0-plus assists, 1.6-plus steals and fewer than 3.0 turnovers per game.

Graham ranks third nationally, and second in the Big 12, in assists per game at 7.5. The Raleigh, N.C., native leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.7. Graham is scoring 17.3 points per game, which is third in the conference, and he is sixth in free throw percentage (83.4), fourth in 3-point field goals made (2.9), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (41.2) and fifth in steals (1.6).

The four Naismith finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom based their selections on outstanding on-court performances during the 2017-18 college basketball season. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, formerly Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, the largest full-service, independent CPA-led business advisory firm, based in Atlanta.

The 2018 Citizen Naismith Trophy winner will be announced on Sunday, April 1, at the Naismith Awards Brunch at Pearl Stable in San Antonio.

This year, fans have a say in the choosing the winner. Between March 19-30, fans can cast their ballot and help decide the winner. The fan component counts for five percent of the vote.


Jonathan Allison 3 years, 1 month ago

What a well-deserved honor. Hard to believe that we were so fortunate to have two incredibly talented leaders like Frank and Devonte. It wasn't too long ago we were questioning why Self was unable to land good PGs in recruiting. We didn't waste very many gigabytes analyzing the kid who Self signed that had previously signed with Towson, and the jury was definitely out on the late-bloomer who had been committed to play at Appalachian State.

Frank established himself in about his second game when he went toe to toe with the top talent at Duke. And it didn't take long the following year to recognize the poise and finesse of the freshman Graham whom many, myself included, had determined was an insurance signing for Mason and Frankamp in replacing what would have been a Senior Naadir Tharpe who ended up on the naughty list one too many times.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 1 month ago

Congratulations to Devonte. I really believe that he has a shot at it, but if not, it is still a tremendous honor and a tribute to the kind of player and person that he is.

I look forward to seeing his jersey retired at AFH sometime in the future.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm glad to see that all the work and effort that gave Devante the chance to show not only the BIG 12 but the entire nation just how good a player he is.

Just looking at the players who are also finalists, Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III and Jalen Brunson there is not a whole lot separating these players in terms of talent. I would put my money on Brunson but very rarely do I leave thinking they pick the best person. Ayton and Bagley are both freshmen, and Ayton is having to play through what are so far unfounded allegations of cash.

Graham is fearless and willingly plays whatever role is needed on a given night. Someone else might win Tournament MOP but it will be Devante Graham who carried this team.


Mallory Briggans 3 years, 1 month ago

Congratulations to Devonte .

And a special thank you to Coach Fox for releasing him from his scholorship at App State .....The Jayhawk Nation thanks you .

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 1 month ago

Very glad to see all this talk about Trae Young has gotten Old....and forgotten.

When is the voting deadline for this award? It would be nice to see how a Graham vs Brunson matchup would result in the National Semifinals before casting ones vote.

Andy Godwin 3 years, 1 month ago

Congratulations to Devonte and his team mates and coaches. What a wonderful and well deserved recognition. Might be hard to beat out Ayton or Bagley, but Devonte has been full of surprises. Hopefully his leadership will help advance KU further in the dance than last year’s team.

Bj Cassady 3 years, 1 month ago

I love the Joy that he shows in his face. He loves the game, he loves playing for the 'Hawks'. He loves to win. He is my kind of player. We are lucky to have him. He is a winner. Even if he doesn't take home any more awards, he is a winner in my league! A winner for life.

Danny Hernandez 3 years, 1 month ago

I remember all the crap about Frank, who couldn't finish and just threw his body in there. And Graham, who injured his toe I believe in his first season derailing the start of his freshman season and yes everyone questioning why Self recruited him. And lamenting that we only got these two players because SELF struck out on the 5 star point guards he was after. I for one, AM Glad he struck out because Kansas found gold I'm here to tell you. I wouldn't want a better set of guards the past 4 years so FU to all those 5 stars that were afraid to come to Kansas. Maybe they knew something we didn't! and that is that there was no way they could take the ball from Frank or Devonte!!!! And that goes to you Trae, you're a great talent but not the player that could take us to the promised land like Devonte can.

Devonte, You deserve everything that comes your way and Thank You for giving Kansas your all!! You are the man!!

AND may I add, how many times can a school say they had back to back finalists for the players of the year? Yes Villanova last year and this year and Kansas last year WHEN Frank won every award. Devonte has that chance folks. Give it up to Devonte

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 1 month ago

I agree with Marius in that the toughest competition for the award is likely Brunson. It's not that a freshman can't win the Naismith Award, but historically, they seem to have favored upperclassmen.

We're all rooting for you Devonte. Nobody is more deserving.

Mike Riches 3 years, 1 month ago

Congratulations to Devonte' on this extraordinary honor! Only one other time has a school had two separate players win this award (or the Wooden award) in consecutive years (Battier and Williams). How cool would that be?!

No one deserves this more than Graham. Willing his team to win a record 14th consecutive conference title, while playing almost every minute of the conference season, should count for something!!

Marcia Parsons 3 years, 1 month ago

He's more than just a bunch of good stats. He's the one who directs traffic and the engine that makes everyone go.

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