Following the top candidates for the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Committee begins the selection process in October of the year preceding the Wooden Award announcement. Players who do not make the Preseason or Midseason lists are still eligible for consideration for the final ballot. These lists are intended to give our voters an indication of players in contention for the Award.
This year will feature returning All Americans, returning top prospects from the recruiting class, extraordinary five-star freshmen, high-impact transfers and so much more. Narrowing a list of the 10 most likely Wooden Award Candidates was very difficult considering the extreme amount of players that proved they were deserving of consideration.
While college basketball has annually been unpredictable, here are the 10 most likely candidates to earn the Wooden Award going into next season.
Merrill is one of the best shooters in the country as he knocked down He proved he can productively score in the midrange and finish around the rim as well. With efficiency numbers off the charts he led the nation in field goal percentage at 77 percent his sophomore year by the way , Kansas has a top tier defense with him and average defense at best without him.
Combined with a very large frame and big size, the strength of the Nigerian big man is unmatched by any opponent Azubuike will face. Kerry Blackshear Jr. The grad transfer was top ten in the ACC in field goal percentage last year He can move very well, shoot the ball very well, dribble it. He can do a lot of everything.
Post up. He has a knack to getting the ball in the basket. A guy like that is very difficult to guard. Nwora always plays under control and to a high level as he impressively put up Nwora is a very skilled player who can score the ball consistently, rebound into double figures and he has a high basketball IQ to make the right reads to find teammates or look for his shot.
Nwora gives the Cardinals realistic potential to make a deep run in March. Edwards is as strong and physical especially as a freshman as almost any player you will find in college basketball.
He has great strength and athleticism to absorb contact and finish effectively at the rim. Put the ball in his hands and he can create his shot from the rim to beyond the three-point line and create plays for his teammates.
The lengthy guard makes the right decisions on and off the ball and if you leave him or his teammates open he will quickly make you pay.
Edwards is an aggressive guard who is explosive off the dribble but also a catch and shoot threat. The freshman is already a force to be reckoned with on defense and his offensive game is soon to follow. On defense, Wiseman is an elite rim protector and he is capable of guarding perimeter players also as he is very agile and quick on his feet vertically and laterally.
Wiseman still needs to develop on offense but his offensive skills are already promising. He has an arsenal of moves in the post but he also has great awareness as a passer finding cutters and open teammates. As Wiseman gets more time to develop, he will be unstoppable on offense and will be one of the most elite players on defense.
Anthony has shown great playmaking abilities and has premier athleticism. He can finish well in the lane and can throw down dunks like few other guards are capable of. Very effective on and off the ball, Anthony can score off the dribble or catch and shoot from far beyond the three-point line.
Anthony is a great passer and has the mandatory point guard skills such as ball handling, maneuvering the pick and roll, shiftiness, etc. Anthony should immediately be very impactful for the Tar Heels.
With plenty of very talented teammates around him, Anthony will need to prove he can consistently make his teammates better to potentially put him over the edge for the ACC player of the year award which will definitely not be an easy race to win.
Powell has been a double-figure scorer since his freshman year and last year his numbers improved to No doubt about it, Powell has the clutch gene.
Other superstars are simply not as clutch as Powell.
If you give him enough space, Powell will make shots from the parking lot and will make shots at the rim, in the midrange area and deep three-point territory every game. Powell is a wise and experienced leader who will take the Pirates very far in March a preseason top 15 Seton Hall team who returns almost every key player from last year…watch out.
When Howard has the green-light, there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop him. Just ask Providence and Creighton fans, where he went on the road and dropped 52 points his sophomore year at Providence and 53 points at Creighton last year, breaking all-time Big East records in both games.
The polls opened on Monday at 9 a.
Howard creates a ton of separation on his consistently effective step back he likes to frequently use. With unlimited range, Howard has converted more than 40 percent of his three-point attempts every year he also led the nation in three-point percentage at Even though Howard is more of a scoring guard, he has the top-notch ball-handling skills and court vision a point guard needs he will need to limit turnovers on a more consistent basis though.
Despite the Hauser brothers surprisingly transferring away from Marquette, Howard will still have more than enough talent around him and Marquette will be a nationally ranked team. Howard is already used to a high usage rate as he had the second-highest usage rate of all major conference players last year.
The highest usage rate belonged to the sensational Carsen Edwards who had a similar situation Howard will have this year.
Nobody in college basketball is Steph Curry, but Markus Howard is the closest player you will find. Winston showed up in every March Madness game but what will be most memorable is his Elite 8 performance upsetting national championship favorite Duke when he put up 20 points, 10 assists and 4 steals in a win over the Blue Devils.
He is the ideal point guard you want on your team. In addition to a high basketball IQ and exceptional passing ability, Winston is a terrific shooter as well. Just like many other guys on this list, Winston is another three-range scorer who can catch and shoot but is also effective off the dribble.
Winston plays with a lot of poise, controlling the tempo and making the right decisions on the fly instead of making his mind up to what he will do beforehand. The race will be exciting, but Winston will go into the season as the Wooden Award headliner. Expect Winston not only to be the preseason favorite for the award but be the leader on the preseason national championship favorite as well.
With all that being said, the 10 most likely candidates for the Wooden Award is going to change significantly throughout the season. Players on that list will certainly look to move their way up as well. For example, Myles Powell will look to directly move up that list when Powell and the Seton Hall Pirates will make their season debut against Cassius Winston and Michigan State on November 14th…months before Powell will play against Markus Howard and Marquette at least two to three times during Big East action.
With so many stars in college basketball, many dark horse candidates who few people saw coming to make their presence known on a national spotlight. Stay tuned for my next article which will highlight some key dark horse candidates you will need to keep an eye on.