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Top Wooden Award Candidates

By Dave Martin
Epoch Times Staff
Created: March 3, 2013 Last Updated: March 3, 2013
Related articles: Sports » College Sports
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Mason Plumlee (L) has 16 double-doubles thus far and put up 18 points and 11 rebounds in Duke’s win over North Carolina earlier in the season. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Mason Plumlee (L) has 16 double-doubles thus far and put up 18 points and 11 rebounds in Duke’s win over North Carolina earlier in the season. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Much like the great parity in college basketball teams this season, which has created no major favorites thus far, the Wooden Award candidates have created little separation amongst themselves.

With Duke high in the polls, Plumlee should be considered the favorite.

Though the official list was narrowed down to 25 candidates in January, and somehow doesn’t have Indiana star Victor Oladipo, here are the remaining best bets to win the coveted award, with statistics through Tuesday’s games. Listed odds of winning are author’s opinion.

Ben McLemore, freshman guard for Kansas: 15.9 points, 5.4 rebounds per game. McLemore may have the highest ceiling of any player on the list as evidenced by his 49.3/42.3/88.0 (field goal percent/three-point percent/free throw percent) shooting. In addition he is a high-flying guard that has provided some highlight dunks thus far. Ben has had a couple of 30-point games in the Big 12 this season and is capable of even more, but is often passive in a senior-dominated lineup for the Jayhawks. Odds of winning: 35:1.

Jack Cooley, senior forward for Notre Dame: 14.4 points, 11.0 rebounds per game. Cooley has been remarkably consistent this year for the Irish, grabbing at least eight rebounds in every game but one. He’s also scored in double-figures in all but two contests, keeping the Irish competitive in the always-tough Big East. While he’s consistent, he probably won’t score enough to put him higher on the list. Odds of winning: 32.5:1.

Marcus Smart, freshman guard for Oklahoma State: 15.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists. Smart’s another fine freshman from the Big 12 and the Cowboys are heavily reliant on him. He was especially instrumental in OSU’s upset win at Kansas in early February scoring 25 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Earlier he put up 23 in a one-point loss to Gonzaga on New Year’s Eve and the Cowboys’ offense is clearly different without him on the floor. If he stayed another year, he’d probably be at the top of this list. Odds of winning: 30:1

Jeff Withey, senior center for Kansas: 13.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.8 blocks per game. Withey has come a long ways at Kansas and is now considered possibly the best interior defender in the game. The seven-footer has been able to block or alter shots while staying out of foul trouble and even posted a triple-double earlier in the year against San Jose State when he put 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 blocked shots. He is the Big 12’s all-time leading shot-blocker, but Withey’s offensive game, though improved, probably keeps him from moving up the list. Odds of winning: 25:1.

Pierre Jackson, senior guard for Baylor: 19.2 points, 6.4 assists per game. Though Baylor (16–11) has had a somewhat disappointing season, Jackson has not. The five-foot, ten-inch guard has had 12 20-plus-point games, scoring 30 points in last week’s loss to Iowa State. Unless he can lead the Bears to an amazing turnaround (Baylor has suddenly lost six of eight games) though, Jackson won’t be winning the award. Odds of winning: 20:1

Deshaun Thomas, junior forward for Ohio State: 19.9 points, 6.1 rebounds per game. The Buckeyes have held their own this season in the nation’s toughest conference, The Big Ten, largely due to Thomas’ emergence. With no Jared Sullinger to run their offense through anymore, Thomas has been the go-to player with eight 20-plus-point games in conference play alone. Easily the Buckeyes’ top offensive option on a defensive-oriented team, his 28 points against Michigan State in mid-January represented half the team’s total points in a loss, demonstrating what he means to their offense. Odds of winning: 12:1.

Michigan guard Trey Burke (R) leads the team in scoring (18.9) as well as assists (6.9) and has the Wolverines in the hunt for a title. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Michigan guard Trey Burke (R) leads the team in scoring (18.9) as well as assists (6.9) and has the Wolverines in the hunt for a title. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Trey Burke, sophomore guard for Michigan: 18.9 points, 6.9 assists per game. Burke, who has three double-doubles and who has racked up at least eight assists in 13 games this season, has been on fire from the field recently. The six-foot guard put up 26 and 29 points in his last two games while shooting a combined 17-for-27 from the floor in wins over Illinois and Penn State. Odds of winning: 8:1.

Doug McDermott, junior forward for Creighton: 22.4 points, 7.6 rebounds per game. McDermott arrived on the national scene last year putting up nearly identical numbers for his dad’s program. Amazingly McDermott has posted shooting percentages of 54.2/48.0/85.5 this season despite taking most of the shots for the team and being the focal point of the opposition’s defense. Still Creighton would need to improve upon their 22–7 record for him to move higher here. Odds of winning: 4.5:1.

Cody Zeller, sophomore forward for Indiana: 16.3 points, 8.1 rebounds per game. Zeller has helped Indiana catapult back into the cream-of-the-crop programs this year, leading the team in scoring and rebounding. Zeller and the aforementioned Olapido form the nation’s best 1–2 punch, but Zeller may need a little more seasoning to move any higher. Odds of winning: 3:1

Mason Plumlee, senior forward for Duke: 17.5 points, 10.7 rebounds per game. Plumlee has been Duke’s biggest asset with 16 double-doubles thus far for the Blue Devils. He’s hit just under 60 percent of his shots on the season and has twice erupted for 30 or more points in conference play. He’s been at his best in big games, burning Ohio State for 21 points and 17 rebounds in December while putting up 18 and 11 against the rival Tar Heels. With Duke high in the polls, Plumlee should be considered the favorite. Odds of winning: 1.5:1.

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