As the middle of the college basketball season begins to hit full stride, the NCAA announced the John R. Wooden Midseason Award Top 25 list on Wednesday. The Wooden Award is annually given to the most outstanding college basketball player.
The list figures to feature the best among the rest when it comes to this season’s group of elite basketball players in the NCAA. However, players can still be added to it before the final group is announced on March 7. For example, former Indiana Hoosier guard Victor Oladipo was not on the midseason list in 2013. He ended up finishing second in the final voting, behind Michigan’s Trey Burke.
In early February, the top 20 leading candidates for the Wooden Award will be released. During the week of the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament, the Wooden Award All-America Team will be announced.
As far as the players who are currently on the list, many, if not all, will undoubtedly have made strong cases to win the award by the season’s end.
Freshman big man Jahlil Okafor of the Duke Blue Devils, who is considered by many as the frontrunner to win the award, is one of several players who headline the list. Others include, Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, Louisville’s Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell and Okafor’s teammate, Duke guard Tyus Jones.
West Virginia’s Juwan Staten, Virginia’s Justin Anderson, Utah’s Deion Wright and Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer are a few other notable candidates.
It’s worth noting that Okafor and Jones are two of five freshman players that were included. Arizona’s Stanley Johnson, Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell and Maryland’s Melo Trimble also made the cut.
Duke, Louisville and Gonzaga are the only schools to feature more than one player on the list, each with two.
As with every award watch list, there are few players who some may feel deserve the same recognition, but were “snubbed.” Providence’s LaDontae Henton, Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas, VCU’s Treveon Graham, Virginia’s Anthony Gill and Wichita State’s Fred VanVleet were all left off the midseason list, but are definitely players who could find themselves making the final cut. There’s also several players from Kentucky who could be candidates by the end of the season, including Karl Anthony-Towns, Devin Booker and Aaron Harrison. Willie Cauley-Stein is the lone Wildcat who’s on the midseason list.
Here’s the complete of the Wooden Midseason Top 25 List:
|Ron Baker||Wichita State||Guard||Redshirt Junior|
|Jerian Grant||Notre Dame||Guard||Senior|
|D’Angelo Harrison||St. John’s||Guard||Senior|
|Georges Niang||Iowa State||Forward||Junior|
|D’Angelo Russell||Ohio State||Guard||Freshman|
|Juwan Staten||West Virginia||Guard||Senior|
*Section Photo credit to Andy Lyons, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Mark Dolejs, USA Today Sports