Wooden Award Watch
As the conference tournaments are right around the corner, college basketball is heating up and the contenders for the Wooden Award are separating themselves from the pretenders. Here are some top candidates for this year’s Wooden Award as the regular season wraps up.
Zion Williamson, Freshman, Forward, Duke
Williamson has proved to the basketball world that he is just different. Averaging 21.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game along with a ridiculously good 68.3 shooting percentage, the nearly 300 pound beast is easily the favorite for this award.
After leaving just seconds in to Duke’s loss against North Carolina last week with an apparent injury, Williamson has missed the last two games against Syracuse and Virginia Tech. The grade one sprain of his right ankle should not keep him out for an extended length of time, however, and he should be ready for the ACC Tournament, if not earlier.
With the possibilith of being the consensus first-overall pick for this year’s NBA Draft, the freshman could potentially decide to sit out for the rest of his sole college season in order to maintain his draft stock. But, even if he did, he would still be a favorite to win the Wooden Award.
Ja Morant, Sophomore, Guard, Murray State
Murray State star Ja Morant has made significant improvements from his freshman season. College basketball’s “assist king,” leading the nation in assists per game with 10.3, has gone from a nobody to a potential top-five pick in this year’s NBA draft over the course of a year.
Morant is simply a scoring machine. The sophomore’s 24.4 points per game is seventh-best in the country, and in nearly half of his games this season, he has scored at least 25 points. An effective shot creator, flashy passer and athletic finisher, Morant has all the tools to become a great NBA player.
The sophomore has also put his Racers on the map, leading them to a fantastic 23-4 record overall and 14-2 conference record so far. If Morant can lead his group back to the NCAA Tournament by winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, he should be right behind Williamson as the favorite for the Wooden Award.
Cassius Winston, Junior, Guard, Michigan State
Winston has led his group to the top of the star-studded Big 10. An efficient scorer and a reliable playmaker, Winston has his Spartans in a position to possibly win the conference and earn a top seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Winston’s leadership has been unprecedented this season. The 6-foot-1 point guard leads his team in points and steals. He is shooting an efficient 46.8 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from three along with averaging 7.4 assists per game, the fourth highest in the country. In his last game, Winston scored 27 points and hit 13 of 14 free throws, playing all 40 minutes in a win against the Michigan Wolverines.
Although other players stand out more with larger resumes and more NBA-caliber appeal, Cassius Winston deserves serious consideration to be crowned this year’s Wooden Award winner, especially if Michigan State continues to win big games.
Jack McCune is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.