Men's Basketball
Former UK Star De’Aaron Fox Wins Inaugural NBA Clutch Award

Former UK Star De’Aaron Fox Wins Inaugural NBA Clutch Award

NEW YORK – 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.

A total of 27 players were on NBA opening-day rosters (including two-way and inactive players) that played and finished their college basketball careers at Kentucky was more than any other college program in the country. Duke, with 24, was the only other school with more than 20 players in the NBA. Kentucky also led the league with 17 players on NBA playoff rosters.

UK has enjoyed unprecedented success at putting players in the NBA under Calipari. In the Calipari era, 45 players have been selected in the NBA Draft, more than any other school. Included in the recent run are 34 first-round picks, three No. 1 overall selections (Anthony Davis, Towns and John Wall) and 22 lottery selections.

Calipari’s players are not only reaching the next level, but they are also succeeding when they do. Since 2010, 10 Calipari-coached players have garnered 32 All-Star selections. Seven of his players have been tabbed All-NBA (Devin Booker, DeMarcus Cousins, Randle, Rose, Wall, Davis, and Towns), and 15 players from Calipari’s first 12 teams at Kentucky have made the NBA All-Rookie teams.

Among all active collegiate coaches, Calipari has more total players (10) and more total All-Star selections (32) than any other coach. Only Dean Smith (12) had more former players earn an All-Star nod. Kentucky had four selections in 2023 which was more than any other program.

For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, and on the web at

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