Wooden Award Watch: Week 2
After a crazy week of college basketball we’re back with yet another Wooden Award watchlist. Some will be returners to this list while others are new members to the discussion of who college basketball’s best player is.
Junior Forward Rui Hachimura - Gonzaga
Hachimura cemented himself as a new number one favorite for the Wooden award with three straight 20-point games against power five competition, with 23 against Illinois, 24 against Arizona and 20 against the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils. Against the Blue Devils, Hachimura was essential to the Bulldogs efforts with his rim protection holding fast against the dangerous finishing ability of Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett. Being able to play the way he does against top Division I competition consistently is a major sign of his play not being a fluke. Hachimura and the Bulldogs will look to continue their hot streak against North Dakota State.
Junior Forward Grant Williams - Tennessee
The reigning SEC player of the year is continuing to show why he was worthy of such honors only a season ago. Already picking up where he left off, Williams is averaging 22 points per game to go along with eight rebounds per game and three assists as well. Against the Louisville Cardinals, Williams had 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks. An absolute stat sheet stuffer, Williams has propelled himself from simply being the best player in his conference to possibly being the best player in all of college basketball.
Junior Guard Carsen Edwards - Purdue
Carsen Edwards has been lights out to kick off the 2018-2019 season. Averaging 26 points per game while shooting an incredible 41.5 percent from deep, Edwards is everything to this Boilermaker team who lost many key contributors from last season’s tournament squad. Despite Purdue falling to 16th-ranked Virginia Tech, Edwards had himself a solid performance, dropping 26 points on a very good Buzz Williams' Hokie team. If Edwards can maintain the average of 26 points per game and have huge performances on a consistent basis then he will definitely remain a Wooden favorite as the season goes on.
Freshman Forward Zion Williamson - Duke
The Zion Williamson hype train hit a slight bump in the road this past week with Duke losing a close one to Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational Tournament. Williamson had only 22 points on 47 percent field goal percentage with 10 rebounds and four blocks as well. Despite this, Williamson was one of the few Blue Devils who played well and somewhat efficiently in this loss. Being able to contribute when challenged with teammates down is no easy task and stepping up like that is something usually reserved for upperclassmen. Stellar play despite being down and beaten is a huge trait to see from such a young player like Williamson, and it proves that he still belongs among the nation’s elite and premier players in contention for the Wooden.
David Saggio is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.