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Deandre Ayton wins 2018 Karl Malone Award

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The Arizona freshman is the top power forward in college basketball

USC v Arizona Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Arizona Wildcats big man Deandre Ayton has won the 2018 Karl Malone Award, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Friday.

The award is given to the nation’s top power forward. Ayton is the first Wildcat to win the award, which was introduced in 2015.

He beat out Marvin Bagley III (Duke), Nick King (Middle Tennessee), Luke Maye (North Carolina) and Mike Daum (South Dakota St.) for the award.

Ayton recorded one of the most dominant seasons in Pac-12 history.

The freshman phenom averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.9 blocks per game, along with 24 double-doubles. That broke a single-season school record previously held by Al Fleming.

Ayton was awarded Pac-12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, the first to win both since UCLA standout Kevin Love in 2008.

The 7-foot-1 Ayton officially declared for the 2018 NBA Draft in late March, and is widely projected to be a top-three pick.

Our Matt Sheeley wrote an in-depth review of Ayton’s freshman season, which you can find here.

Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire