Wooden Watch: Week 1

Story posted November 13, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Thomas English

The college basketball season has officially begun, and fans are already making their predictions for who is the best player in the country.

There are some key returners and some highly ranked newcomers who could make their case for being the best player in the country.

Here are five players to watch during the 2021-2022 season:

Hunter Dickinson 

The 7-foot-1 sophomore from Alexandria, Virginia had a huge season last year and led Michigan to the Elite 8 in the tournament. 

Dickinson averaged 14.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game for the Wolverines. He was a second team All-American and was selected for the Wooden Award All-American team.

Dickinson decided to withdraw from the NBA Draft to prove his worth to NBA scouts. His size and strength allow him to finish strong at the rim and draw a lot of fouls. 

In his first game this season, Dickinson dropped 27 points and six rebounds to show a glimpse of the type of production he can bring. If he can develop a mid-range shot, Dickinson could become one of the best players in the country and in this draft class. 

Keep an eye on Dickinson and the Wolverines during this season. 

Drew Timme

A 6-foot 10-inch junior from Richardson, Texas, Timme led Gonzaga all the way to the National Championship before losing to Baylor. 

He averaged 19 points, seven rebounds and 2.3 assists for the Bulldogs. He was selected to the Wooden Award All-American team, a second team All-American and he won the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award. 

Timme returns to Gonzaga for his third season and is joined by teammates Chet Holmgren and Andrew Nembhard on the Wooden Award watch list. 

Timme looks to develop his game even more and lead Gonzaga to yet another championship game. In his first game this season, Timme finished with 11 points and four rebounds. 

Gonzaga fans should expect more production as the season goes on and Timme should be a highly ranked prospect once the season is over.

Kofi Cockburn

Cockburn stands at 7-foot-0, 285 pounds and is a man amongst boys. He, alongside Ayo Dosunmu, led Illinois to a very successful 2020-2021 season.

Cockburn averaged 17.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game for the Fighting Illini. He was selected to the Wooden Award All-American team and was a second team All-American.

Cockburn should expect his role to be even bigger this year with the Illini losing Dosunmu to the draft and Adam Miller to the transfer portal. Although he will be suspended for the first three games of the season, Cockburn will have a huge impact for Illinois when he returns.

Paolo Banchero

A freshman out of Seattle, Washington, Banchero is one of the highest rated players in the freshman class. He was ranked as the third overall player in his class and was named Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior. 

In high school he averaged 22.6 points, 11 rebounds 3.7 assists and 1.6 blocks per game. Through two games at Duke, he is averaging 20 points, 9.5 rebounds and two steals per game. It is evident that Banchero’s role at Duke is very big, and he should expect to put up big numbers as the season continues.

Watch out for this talented freshman. 

Chet Holmgren

The No. 1 ranked player in his class, Holmgren stands at 7-foot-0 out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In high school he averaged 21 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.

In his first collegiate game, Holmgren dropped 14 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and seven blocks. Alongside Timme, Gonzaga has possibly the best duo in the country. He can do it all for his size and looks to be a top prospect in this year’s draft and a top player in the country this season. 

Thomas English is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email tfe5082@psu.edu.