John Wall, who led Kentucky to its 44th SEC championship, was named by The Sporting News as its National Freshman of the Year. Teammate DeMarcus Cousins was named to the first team as well.
They are joined on Sporting News’ all-freshman team by Xavier Henry (Kansas), Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech) and Derrick Williams (Arizona).
SN’s second team: Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State), Hassan Whiteside (Marshall), C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), Alec Burks (Colorado) and Elias Harris (Gonzaga).
During one of the best rookie seasons in modern history, Wall broke UK’s freshman scoring record, became the first ’Cat to register double-doubles in both points-assists and points-rebounds, and drew comparisons to one great after another.
Former Wildcats star Rex Chapman says Wall’s game reminds him of Jason Kidd’s. Chapman, a former NBA teammate of Kidd’s, told SN: “Their speed with the ball sets them apart. John is more offensive-minded than Jason has ever been. They both have an uncanny ability to throw on-the-money lob passes.”
Former UK center Randolph Morris compares Wall, the SEC assist champion, to “a hybrid of Rajon Rondo and Wayne Turner — Rondo because of his athleticism, Turner because of his passing.”
Reggie Hanson and Mike Pratt, both members of UK’s 1,000-point club, say he’s the best player to wear Kentucky blue since Jamal Mashburn. “He’s able to take over when he wants and, at the same time, make everyone around him better,” said Hanson, now an assistant coach at South Florida.
In the freshman of the year story in Sporting News Magazine, a dozen 1,000-point UK scorers weighed in on Wall — Chapman, Hanson, Morris, Pratt, Johnny Cox, Cliff Hagan, Vern Hatton, Kyle Macy, Jamaal Magloire, Cotton Nash, Rick Robey and Jeff Sheppard.
Sporting News will roll out its entire awards package throughout the week in Sporting News Today and on sportingnews.com.
The full two-page package appears in the new issue of Sporting News Magazine. The March 15 issue — featuring Kansas’ Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry and Sherron Collins on the cover — will be available later this week at all Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets.