Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III Headline 2018 Naismith Award Finalists

Ruben Hill
March 13, 2018

Arizona freshman Deandre Ayton, Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III, Villanova junior Jalen Brunson and Kansas senior Devonte' Graham were announced as the four finalists for the award Tuesday.

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.

While Ayton and Bagley are both in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick in June's National Basketball Association draft, the other two finalists-Graham and Brunson-helped their respective teams grab No. 1 seeds in the Big Dance. If he were to match former teammate Frank Mason III and win the Naismith Trophy, Kansas would be just the first school to have back-to-back winners since Duke in 2001 (Shane Battier) and 2002 (Jay Williams). Beginning March 19 and running through March 30, fans will be able to cast their vote for their favorite player by visiting to help determine the victor. However, the victor of the award won't be announced until April 1.

Graham ranks third nationally, and second in the Big 12, in assists per game at 7.5. "We wish we could choose each of these candidates as the player of the year".

Behind Ayton, Arizona won the Pac-12's regular season and conference tournament titles.

Like Ayton in the Pac-12, Bagley doubled up on ACC honors when he was named freshman and player of the year.

He is one of only two players in the country averaging better than 20.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg and shooting better than.600 from the field. He has played all 40 minutes in a game on 16 separate occasions this season.

Brunson is Villanova's junior point guard and leading scorer.

Graham is the Jayhawks' senior leader, averaging 17.3 points, 7.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game, knocking down 41.2 percent of his shots from long-range. The Raleigh, N.C., native leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.7.

With Graham, Kansas captured its 14th consecutive Big 12 title and won the conference tournament. 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, GA.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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