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KU senior Devonte’ Graham one of four finalists for Naismith Trophy

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and the Jayhawks celebrate their 71-66 win over West Virginia as time expires, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) and the Jayhawks celebrate their 71-66 win over West Virginia as time expires, Monday, Jan. 15, 2018 at WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, West Virginia.

March 13, 2018

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Two days before he embarks on leading the Kansas basketball team through the NCAA Tournament, senior Devonte’ Graham reached a different kind of final four.

The Jayhawks’ leader and point guard learned Tuesday he is one of four finalists for the James A. Naismith Trophy.

A year after his former KU teammate, Frank Mason III, took home the national player of the year award, Graham is in competition with Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III and Villanova’s Jalen Brunson for this season’s Naismith Trophy.

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, NCAA.com and the USBWA, and on the Wooden Award Final Ballot.

Graham also picked up Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team honors after averaging 14.3 points and 10.0 assists in guiding Kansas to the tourney title, landing the Jayhawks the No. 1 seed in the Midwest region of the NCAA Tournament in the process.

On every national player of year watch list, Graham is the only player in NCAA Division I this season averaging 17.0-plus points, 7.0-plus assists, 1.6-plus steals and fewer than 3.0 turnovers per game.

Graham ranks third nationally, and second in the Big 12, in assists per game at 7.5. The Raleigh, N.C., native leads the Big 12 in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.7. Graham is scoring 17.3 points per game, which is third in the conference, and he is sixth in free throw percentage (83.4), fourth in 3-point field goals made (2.9), seventh in 3-point field goal percentage (41.2) and fifth in steals (1.6).

The four Naismith finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club's national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom based their selections on outstanding on-court performances during the 2017-18 college basketball season. 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.

The 2018 Citizen Naismith Trophy winner will be announced on Sunday, April 1, at the Naismith Awards Brunch at Pearl Stable in San Antonio.

This year, fans have a say in the choosing the winner. Between March 19-30, fans can cast their ballot and help decide the winner. The fan component counts for five percent of the vote.

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