Wooden Watch: Elite Eight Edition

Story posted March 26, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Ethan Bell

The Final Four is quickly approaching, leading to the end of the college basketball season. There are many exciting games upcoming as well as many awards to give out to many incredible players.

The most important award to still be given out is the John R. Wooden Award, given to the most outstanding college basketball player of the year.

The award will be given on Friday, April 9 and there are many players on the ballot with an opportunity to win this year.

One of those players is Purdue center Zach Edey, who the odds are in heavy favor of. Edey posted incredible numbers throughout the regular season, averaging 22.3, 12.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

Edey and the Boilermakers had their season come to an abrupt end when they lost to No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Staying in the Big Ten conference, Penn State guard Jalen Pickett is another finalist for the award.

Pickett led Penn State to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011 and helped the team acquire its first tournament win since 2001.

He was Penn State’s leading scorer, averaging 17.7 points per game this season. Pickett was also able to get a triple-double against Butler early in the season, only the second one in Penn State basketball history.

The Big Ten includes two more players on the Wooden Award watch list, including Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Jackson-Davis had a great season for the Hoosiers, leading the way as they reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. He averaged a double double this season with 20.9 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

Kris Murray is the fourth and final Big Ten player on the list. The Iowa forward helped the Hawkeyes reach the NCAA tournament, following in his brother Keegan's footsteps.

Murray had a phenomenal year posting big numbers for Iowa, averaging 20.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. The NBA is definitely in the young forward’s future.

The Big 12 conference has the second-highest number of players on the list with three, one being Kansas stand-out Jalen Wilson.

Wilson was a part of the National Championship team last year for the Jayhawks and had a breakout campaign for them this year.

He averaged 20.1 points per game and led the team back to the NCAA tournament as a No. 1-seed. Unfortunately, the Jayhawks lost in the second round to the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Another great player from the conference is Keyontae Johnson, who has one of the most inspirational stories in all of college basketball and has had an incredible year.

In 2020, Johnson played for the University of Florida and collapsed on the court, causing him to be induced in a coma for three days.

He was able to recover and come back to basketball, transferring Kansas State to play for the Wildcats. He put up 17.7 points per game this season and is one of the stars on the team.

Johnson is one of the main reasons why the Wildcats are in the Elite Eight.

The last player on the list from the Big 12 is TCU guard Mike Miles Jr. The Horned Frogs returned a lot of players from their tournament team last season, and Miles was the best of them.

He had some injury issues throughout the season, which set TCU back a little bit, but Miles was there when the team needed him most. He averaged 17.7 points per game and helped the Horned Frogs make the tournament for the second year in a row.

There are nine other players still up to win the award, including the players above and the finalist list will be released next Wednesday, March 29. 

Ethan Bell is a sophomore majoring in public relations. To contact him, email epb5391@psu.edu.