Former Kentucky men’s basketball star De’Aaron Fox (2017) was named the 2022-23 Kia NBA Clutch Player of the Year on Tuesday in the award’s inaugural season.
Fox topped Miami’s Jimmy Butler and Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan with 91 of the possible 100 first-place votes in voting conducted from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters.
UK head coach John Calipari has now coached a player that has won Most Valuable Player (Derrick Rose – 2011), Rookie of the Year (Rose – 2009, Tyreke Evans – 2010, Karl-Anthony Towns – 2016), Most Improved Player (Julius Randle – 2021), Defensive Player of the Year (Marcus Camby – 2007), Sixth Man of the Year (Tyler Herro – 2022) and Clutch Player of the Year. He is the only collegiate coach in history to have a former player win each of the major NBA honors.
Fox started all 73 regular-season games in which he appeared for the Sacramento Kings who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2006. He averaged 25.0 points, 6.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game in his sixth NBA season. Fox was tabbed to the 2023 NBA All-Star Game roster, the first selection of his career.
The Houston native led all NBA players in clutch scoring with 180 points and shot 54.8% in clutch moments during the regular season. The Kings were 21-13 in the clutch with Fox leading the charge. He finished at the rim with a 78.0% field-goal clip, the highest mark of any guard in the league.
Fox was a part of the Wildcats for a march to the Elite Eight and a 2017 Southeastern Conference Tournament title. He was an All-SEC First Team selection and was the SEC Tournament MVP. Fox scored a UK freshman-record 39 points in a Sweet 16 matchup against UCLA and was one of just three players in program history to record a triple-double. Fox averaged 16.7 points and 4.6 assists per game for the Wildcats before being selected fifth overall by the Kings in 2017.
Fox and the Kings, owning a 2-0 series advantage, return to action Thursday against the Golden State Warriors in the third game of the opening series. Fox’s clutch play was on display in the Kings’ opening-game victory in the series. He scored 38 points in his playoff debut, tying for the second most ever in the history of the NBA. Fox tallied 29 of those points in the second half and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to seal the win.
Walter Cornett, of Glendale, Kentucky, is the owner and operator of Walter’s Wildcat World. He founded WildcatWorld.com in 1998 making it one of the oldest Kentucky basketball fan sites in operation today.