UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf has been named as one of 10 watch list finalists for the 2017 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award, as announced Thursday by the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame.
Named after Hall of Famer and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Karl Malone, the annual honor is now in its third year and recognizes the top power forwards in college basketball. A national committee comprised of top college basketball personnel determined the watch list of 20 candidates in October, which has now been narrowed to 10 student-athletes.
Leaf has averaged 17.0 points and 8.9 rebounds per game during his freshman season at UCLA. The 6-foot-10 forward from El Cajon, Calif., has shot 63.7 percent from the field and 47.7 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Leaf leads all UCLA players with 10 double-doubles and has recorded 26 blocks in 23 contests.
Leaf has scored in double figures in 22 of the Bruins’ 23 contests and has twice been named the Pac-12’s Player of the Week (on Dec. 5 and two weeks later on Dec. 19). He and classmate Lonzo Ball have also been selected to the 25-man midseason watch list for the John R. Wooden Award, annually presented to the nation’s top collegiate player.
Most recently, Leaf recorded a season-high 32 points in UCLA’s 95-79 win at Washington State on Wednesday evening. Leaf also had 14 rebounds in the victory, registering his 10th double-double of the season. His 32-point effort in Pullman, Wash., marked the second-highest single-game point total by any UCLA freshman (Don MacLean had 41 against North Texas on Dec. 30, 1988).
Joining Leaf on the 10-man midseason watch list for the Karl Malone Award are Miles Bridges (Michigan State), Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame), Dedric Lawson (Memphis), Lauri Markkanen (Arizona), Johnathan Motley (Baylor), Alec Peters (Valparaiso), Ivan Rabb (California), Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) and Michael Young (Pittsburgh).
In March, five finalists will be presented to Karl Malone and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee for the 2017 Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. The winner of this year’s award will be presented at the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show live from The Novo by Microsoft in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, April 7. Broadcast information will be released at a later date.
Leaf has become the third UCLA player this week selected to one of the revised position watch lists. Lonzo Ball is among 10 finalists for this season’s Bob Cousy Award (point guard of the year) and Bryce Alford has been named as one of 10 finalists for the Jerry West Award (shooting guard of the year).
Karl Malone Award – Midseason Watch List
Player School Year PPG Points RPG Rebounds FG Pct. FG/FGA
Miles Bridges Michigan State Fr. 16.3 244 8.5 127 49.0 94/192
Bonzie Colson Notre Dame Jr. 15.6 358 10.6 243 49.4 132/267
Dedric Lawson Memphis So. 19.0 417 10.1 223 47.0 149/317
TJ Leaf UCLA Fr. 17.0 390 8.9 204 63.7 163/256
Lauri Markannen Arizona Fr. 16.8 369 7.6 167 52.6 120/228
Johnathan Motley Baylor Jr. 16.2 340 9.6 201 51.6 126/244
Alec Peters Valparaiso Sr. 23.9 525 11.0 243 45.9 170/370
Ivan Rabb California So. 15.6 297 10.7 204 52.8 103/195
Caleb Swanigan Purdue So. 18.8 432 12.9 296 55.2 148/268
Michael Young Pittsburgh Sr. 20.3 44