Wooden Award Watch: Week 5

posted January 18, 2019 in CommRadio by CommRadio, Matthew White

The 2019 Wooden Award Midseason Top-25 Watch List was recently released. The list features seven Big Ten players, which leads all conferences for most players to make the list. Other standout talents throughout college basketball are named, including seven players that made their debut on the watch list after not being named in the Preseason Top-50. 

The top candidates, however, are the ones who experts and avid basketball fans expect to see  receive the most prestigious award in college basketball: 

Zion Williamson, Freshman, Forward, Duke

Despite the Blue Devils losing to Syracuse at Cameron Indoor Stadium earlier this week, Williamson still remains the top candidate for the award. In the loss to the Orange, the freshman had 35 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks as the Blue Devils played without Cam Reddish and Tre Jones for most of the game. 

Williamson executes on 66 percent of his field goals and nears a double-double every time he steps on the court, averaging 21.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. Williamson struggles on 3-point shots, hitting only 27 percent of them. However, there has never been a 6-foot-7-inch, 285 pound player this athletic at the college basketball level. 

Grant Williams, Junior, Forward, Tennessee

Williams is one of the most versatile players in college basketball, leading an underrated program in Tennessee. The 6-foot-7-inch forward leads the team with 18.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. 

Williams is an excellent scorer as he converts on 58 percent of his field goals, 83 percent of his free throws and 41 percent of his 3-point shots. The most impressive aspect of his game, however, would be his ability of guard anyone on the court. 

In the Volunteer’s win against Arkansas, Williams guarded both 6-foot-11-inch forward Daniel Gafford and guard Mason Jones. 

Dedric Lawson, Junior, Forward, Kansas

Kansas isn’t as dominant as they were projected to be heading into the preseason. This is largely due to Udoka Azubuike being out for the season with a wrist injury. However, the team is still ranked seventh in the country, led by Dedric Lawson.

Lawson is averaging a double-double a game, with 19.2 points and 10.6 rebounds. He is, also, the reason why Kansas will likely extend winning streak as they come closer to nabbing another Big 12 title and possibly winning the National Championship.

The Jayhawks are legit this season, as their two losses come from games on the road against Iowa State and Arizona State.

RJ Barrett, Freshman, Forward, Duke

The Blue Devils have another sensational freshman in RJ Barrett, as he leads the team with 23.4 points per game.

The Canadian forward is quite versatile standing at 6 feet 7 inches and averaging 4.1 assists and 6.9 rebound per game. He has also scored more than 20 points in 13 of the 16 games Duke’s played. With Tre Jones out indefinitely, Barrett will likely pick up the point guard position as Duke prepares to play No.4 Virginia on Saturday Night. 

Markus Howard, Junior, Guard, Marquette

Markus Howard is the sole reason why Marquette remains ranked as one of the top-15 teams in the country. The quick guard averages 24.4 points and 4.2 assists per game for the Golden Eagles. 

Howard, nation’s sixth leading scorer, suffered a back injury earlier this week that limited him to three minutes in their win against Georgetown. The back injury will be the only thing that stalls the junior from Arizona as he makes 91 percent of his free throws and 44 percent of his 3-pointers. However, Howard’s production must continue if he wants to win player of the year as college basketball proves itself to be extremely talented and competitive.

Matthew White is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism with a double minor in Business and Spanish.  To contact him, email mmw42@psu.edu