THERE are exactly seven weeks until the John Wooden award is handed out to the best college basketballer from this season. While we have a rough idea of who deserves recognition, there is still a lot of basketball to be played to determine the winner. Instead of just updating you with the potential honourees, this weekly feature will eliminate one contender each week, weakest link style, until just one name remains. Last week a field of 20 was announced and here are your eight SportsbyFry nominees.
Honourable Mentions: Josh Jackson, Ethan Happ, Luke Kenard
Marcus Keene, Central Michigan
MARCUS Keene is stealing the hearts of college fans across the nation. In his first year at Central Michigan, Keene is the leading scorer in college basketball at just under 30 a night. He is worth the price of admission alone to watch him weave his 5’9 frame to the hoop. Although his lack of exposure and decent competition in the MAC means his potential to win the award is capped, Keene is a true cinderella story this year.
Image from mysanantonio.com
Frank Mason III, Kansas
THE leading playmaker at Kansas, Frank Mason III has helped lead the Jayhawks to a 22-3 record and a #3 seed at the time this article is being written. While freshman teammate Josh Jackson is garnering all the NBA draft attention and buzz Mason just keep pottering away behind the scenes, on way to another great season in his senior year.
Johnathan Motley, Baylor
ONE of the surprises this season has been Motley’s dominance helping to launch Baylor up the rankings. They held down the #1 seed for a period of time and look well poised to make a deep tourney run, led by Motley’s dominant play. Could it lead to an eventual John Wooden award? Time will tell.
Josh Hart, Villanova
POOR Josh Hart. He hasn’t done anything wrong this year, helping Villanova to one of the best records in the NCAA. It’s a shame though that everyone is sick of seeing his and the Wildcats’ dominance which may lead to potential voters suffering voters fatigue closer to the award ceremony date. Hart’s 18 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 3.3 APG will still see him feature on plenty of Wooden winner shortlists.
Image from vuhoops.com
Lonzo Ball, UCLA
ONE of the ‘sexier’ picks for the Wooden award Lonzo Ball is one of the favourites to be the #1 pick in this summers NBA Draft. The flashy freshman has featured on highlight reels nightly as he attempts to outshine his brother’s accomplishments. In all seriousness Lonzo has a serious chance to claim the trophy if he continues to ball out.
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga
IN his junior year Williams-Goss has helped Gonzaga go undefeated through their first 26 games of the schedule. His 15.7 PPG paces the team and he is thriving in his role after transferring from Washington. The leading scorer on the nations only undefeated team may not be the eventual winner, but he deserves to be on the shortlist.
Image from fansided.com
Malik Monk, Kentucky
THREE point assassin Malik Monk has boosted his draft stock considerably with the Wildcats in 2016-17. In the process he has had some stellar performances turning heads and raising eyebrows. Monk could very well win the award, especially if Kentucky can finish the season strong.
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
PERHAPS the most underrated and under appreciated player in all of college, Caleb Swanigan is legit. The success of the 21-5 Purdue Biolermakers very much hinges on Swanigan’s performance night in, night out and thankfully he has responded to the challenge. 18.7 PPG and 13 RPG (2nd best in the nation) are phenomenal averages for the dark horse of the Wooden award finalists.
Banner from woodenaward.com