When Arizona landed Keshad Johnson out of the portal last spring it was hoping to get a player who would provide toughness, defense and, most importantly, NCAA Tournament experience.
Getting one of the best players in the country at his position turned out to be an added bonus.
Johnson is one of 10 players in the running for the Karl Malone Award, given annually to college basketball’s top power forwards.
The 6-foot-7 senior is averaging career highs in scoring (11.8 points per game), rebounding (6.3), assists (1.8), steals (1.1) and blocks (0.8) while also putting up career-best shooting numbers. He’s making 55.4 percent of his shots overall and 37.3 percent from 3-point range, his 19 triples more than he had in his previous two seasons at San Diego State.
Johnson, who averaged 5.8 points in 113 games at SDSU, had 14 in the NCAA title game against UConn. With Arizona he’s matched or topped that mark six times.
The Karl Malone Award will be given out in March along with honors for the best players at the four other positions. That includes the Jerry West Award for the best shooting guard, which UA senior Caleb Love is up for. Love is also one of 20 contenders for the Wooden Award given to the country’s best overall player.