Kansas duo named Naismith Trophy semifinalists

Naismith Trophy

Link NaismithTrophy.com

ATLANTA – Kansas senior Frank Mason III and freshman Josh Jackson have been named two of 10 semifinalists for the 2017 James A. Naismith Trophy honoring the most outstanding college basketball player, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Wednesday morning. The No. 1 Jayhawks are the only school with two semifinalists.

Mason leads the Big 12 in scoring with a 20.3 average and his 20.6 points per game in league play are also tops in the Big 12. A two-time national and conference player of the week from Petersburg, Virginia, Mason is the only conference player averaging 20 points or more this season. He has 17 games of 20 points or more, including four of his last five and six of his last eight contests.

Showing a knack for taking over games, Mason has led Kansas in scoring in 21 games this season and also leads the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage at 50.0 percent. Also in the Big 12, Mason is fourth in assists (4.9), sixth in 3-pointers made per game (2.2), ninth in field goal percentage (48.5) and eighth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.0). Mason is 67-for-80 (83.8 percent) from the free throw line in his last nine games, making 7.4 charity shots per contest in that span. Additionally, he is making 51.3 percent (40-for-78) from 3-point range and 2.4 treys per game in Big 12 play.

A seven-time Big 12 Newcomer of the Week in 2016-17, Jackson is second on the team in scoring at 16.3 points per game, which is fifth in the Big 12. The two-time Big 12 Player of the Week from Detroit has seven double-doubles in his last 10 outings and his 11 double-doubles in 2016-17 rank tied for second in the Big 12 and has already broke the KU freshman record. Jackson’s 7.2 rebounds per game are sixth in the conference and he leads KU with 50 steals and 32 blocked shots. Jackson is 19-for-37 (51.4 percent) from beyond the arc in his last 12 games. 

A national voting academy will narrow the list to four finalists that will be announced Sunday, March 19, on Twitter (@NaismithTrophy).

In the final round of voting fans will have a say in the overall process. From 9 a.m. CST on March 20 through 10:59 p.m. CST on March 31 fans can cast their ballot at naismithtrophy.com/vote. One vote per category per day per person. Fan vote will account for 5% of the total vote.

The 49th awarding of the James A. Naismith Trophy to the most outstanding college basketball player will be presented at annual Naismith Final Four Awards Brunch on Sunday, April 2 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Top-ranked Kansas (27-3, 15-2) closes out the regular-season at Oklahoma State Saturday, March 4, at 5 p.m. on ESPN. In 2016-17, Kansas won its 13th consecutive, 17th Big 12 and NCAA-leading 60th conference regular-season titles. The 13-straight league championships ties for the longest in NCAA history with UCLA (1967-79) which was under three coaches. Kansas’ current run, which started in 2005, has been under head coach Bill Self.

2017 Naismith Trophy Semifinalists
Lonzo Ball, UCLA (Freshman, G)
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin (R-Sophomore, F)
Josh Hart, Villanova (Senior, G)
Justin Jackson, North Carolina (Junior, SF)
Luke Kennard, Duke (Sophomore, G)
Johnathan Motley, Baylor (Junior, F)
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue (Sophomore, F)
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga (R-Junior, G)

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