Wooden Award Watch: Week 4
It is about that time of year when things really heat up in the world of college basketball. Most teams are facing tough, in-conference games that mean even more. Top picks for the Wooden Award are starting to separate themselves from the pack, too. Many freshman across country are having standout years, as they try to make their case for a high draft pick. For those players who decide to stay behind and finish out their college careers, they still are contributing and making an impact among these highly-talented freshmen classes. At this point in the season, however, it would be hard to think that these four players have not earned their place on the Wooden watchlist:
Freshman Forward Zion Williamson – Duke
Zion Williamson has been nothing short of spectacular in his freshman season so far. After a slip up against Gonzaga in the Maui Invitational Championship game, Duke has reclaimed the number one ranking in the nation, thanks to a stellar performance by Williamson. In the eight games following Duke’s loss to Gonzaga, Williamson is averaging 21 points per game, including a 30-point night against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. Williamson is playing at an insanely high level and is getting it done on both ends, as he also averages nine and a half rebounds and nearly two blocks per game. He’s the best player on the best team, making him a clear candidate for the Wooden Award.
Freshman Guard R.J. Barrett – Duke
Zion Williamson hasn’t been the only freshman lighting it up at Duke this year. Guard R.J. Barrett has been incredibly impressive this season. Barrett is currently averaging 22.8 points on the season to go along with an impressive six and a half rebounds. Barrett has also proven to be consistent as he has scored over 20 points in 11 games. He may not be as flashy as his freshman counterpart, but don’t be mistaken Barrett is a player who has earned his contention for the Wooden Award.
Senior Center Ethan Happ – Wisconsin
For four seasons now, Ethan Happ has been one of the best big men in all of college basketball. He’s consistently playing at a high level and only gets better each year. This year’s numbers have been fantastic, as Happ averages 19 points, 10 rebounds, and nearly five assists per game. Happ is a complete player: he can score, he can rebound, but best of all he has proved that he can also set up his teammates with good looks. Since conference play has begun, Happ has been on a tear. So far, he is averaging 18 points in conference play and may be the best player in the Big Ten.
Freshman Forward Ignas Brazdeikis -- Michigan
With the help of freshman stud Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan has been a dominant team this season. Brazdeikis is averaging 16 points per game and shooting just about 40 percent from behind the arc. He’s also been at his best for Michigan when they need him the most. The best example of Brazdeikis being clutch in the Wolverines lineup was a home game against the North Carolina Tar Heel, arguably Michigan’s biggest game this season. Brazdeikis put up 24 points and five rebounds. He’s been playing really well all year but has just been outshined by other freshman who have commanded the spotlight. Don’t let the other names fool you, Brazdeikis is as good as they get in college basketball.
Mitch Broder is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.