North Carolina’s Justin Jackson and Duke’s Luke Kennard, the two leading candidates for ACC Player of the Year, were named Wednesday as semifinalists for the 2017 Naismith Trophy. The other eight semifinalists for the award honoring the top player in college basketball, are UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, Villanova’s Josh Hart, Kansas’ Frank Mason, Baylor’s Jonathan Motley, Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan and Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss. Jackson, a 6-foot-8 junior, ranks second in the ACC in scoring in conference games at 19.9 points per game and sixth overall at 18.8 — the highest scoring average by a Tar Heel since Tyler Hansbrough in 2009. He is also second in the ACC in 3-point baskets per game. Kennard, a 6-6 sophomore, ranks second overall in the ACC in scoring at 19.8 points per game while leading the league in 3-point shooting percentage at .456. He is one of only two players nationally, and the only one from a major conference player, to average at least 19.5 points while shooting at least .500 from the floor, .400 from outside the arc and .800 from the free throw line.The Atlanta Tipoff Club will announce four finalists for the 2017 Naismith Trophy on March 19. The award will be presented at the Final Four in Phoenix on April 2.
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