Wooden Award Watch: Week 7
As crazy as it may sound, we are just one month away from college basketball’s most entertaining time of the year. As we draw closer to the annual madness, players across the nation continue to make their cases for the Wooden Award. In recent weeks, all eyes have been on these terrific candidates, and they have not failed to disappoint:
Ja Morant, Sophomore, Guard, Murray State
Who would have ever thought that after nearly three months of college basketball, a sophomore guard from a lower level Division I program would be in the discussion for the Wooden Award, as well as the top pick in June’s NBA Draft? Ja Morant probably did.
This kid has next level confidence in every decision he makes on the court. Because of his decisiveness, he possesses the rare ability to make quick decisions coming off of ball screens, whether he’s dropping a flashy dime to one of his teammates or attacking the rim and adding an unlucky defender to his collection of poster dunks.
Morant is averaging a whopping 24.1 points, 10.5 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game. The Racers have only suffered defeat three times this season, and they are coming off a blowout victory against Tennessee State, where Morant had 24 points and nine assists.
Morant and company will look to go 2-0 this week, with matchups against Jacksonville State and Tennessee Tech on the horizon.
Zion Williamson, Freshman, Forward, Duke
While it’s easy to ramble on about statistics and analytics, analysis of Zion Williamson is relatively simple: he is a man amongst boys, a walking highlight reel and one of the best players in the country.
While the analytics are not necessary and the eye test is preferred, Williamson is averaging 22 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, while shooting an absurd 68.1 percent from the field.
Duke is coming off of a road win against Notre Dame, a game in which Williamson scored 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had a couple of highlight-worthy blocks.
Duke is sitting at the No. 2 spot in the AP top 25 rankings, and while Williamson is deserving of a Wooden Award campaign, one could easily argue that fellow freshman RJ Barrett (23.7 points, 7 rebounds, 3.8 assists) deserves the nod. Duke will take on Shamorie Ponds and St. John's this weekend in what should be a fun game from start to finish.
Grant Williams, Junior, Forward, Tennessee
Tennessee is currently ranked as the No.1 team in the country, with its only close loss coming against a talented Kansas team at the beginning of the season.
In terms of individual talent, Williams has no weaknesses. Coming into this year, Williams’ biggest flaw was his perimeter game, but he has managed to shoot about 35 percent from deep and 83.9 percent from the free throw line.
While many may point to his limited amount of 3-point attempts per game, he has certainly made defenses respect him more from behind the arc. Williams is averaging 20.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
Not to mention, the stats may not suggest it, but Williams is also regarded as one of the best passing big men in the nation. Tennessee is coming off of a dominant victory in South Carolina, and are set to take on the Texas A&M Aggies this weekend.
Pasquale Tartaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.