Wooden Watch: Week 13

Story posted February 19, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Sam Kirk

The watch list for the Wooden Award is 20 names deep as this exciting but odd year leads to March. For a few months now, Luka Garza has been the frontrunner by a wide margin, but here, we will take a look at prospects that have the best chance to overtake Garza in this race for college basketball's most prestigious award.

The odds for these college stars besides Garza to win the Wooden Award are slim to none, but their names are worth mentioning, as they’ve helped this college basketball season make up for the brutal ending to last season’s absence of March Madness. The following players referenced are all stars that could forever change history within their respective schools, considering the tournament is now less than a month away. Hold on, college basketball fans. This year has a chance to be more unpredictable than ever.

Garza wins it after all

Luka Garza is averaging just around 25 points per game in a loaded Big Ten conference. The difference that makes his case a lot more impressive than his competition for the Wooden Award is the fact that the Hawkeyes don’t have quite the same depth as this year’s Baylor or Gonzaga teams that could still be in prime position for a title run without their best player on the court. There is no question that Iowa is going to have a chance to win this conference, but Garza has to be on the floor.

If this award does indeed play into the hands of the MVP of the college basketball season, there are few out there that wouldn’t say that Garza is that guy. Therefore, it seems unlikely that Garza will be challenged for this award, but why not have a little fun and show some love to more of college basketball’s best.

Butler has been big for the Bears

Jared Butler has been a man on a mission this season for Baylor. He is the ultimate playmaker, ranking highly in an impressive Big 12 in both points and assists. Butler’s Wooden case is that many around college basketball think he is the best all-around player on what may be on the best team in the country. That being said, playing on a loaded team like the Bears is only going to hurt Butler’s chances of receiving this award considering his surrounding talent, but do not be shocked to see the Baylor star on the All-American first team right there with Garza.

The trio of Bulldogs

Gonzaga is running the table, and a hope is quickly building that this is finally the Bulldogs’ year. Mark Few’s squad runs through three special players: Drew Timme, Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs. Granted, Gonzaga doesn’t face the same competition that Garza and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu face in the Big Ten, but all three of these candidates have had stretches this season that have earned themselves recognition for this award.

Dosunmu making his impact on the Fighting Illini

Illinois is one of the most exciting teams to watch in the country, and both Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn have their names on the Wooden watch list heading into the last stretch of the regular season. Dosunmu has a better chance to win the award, averaging close to 22 points per game (fifth in the nation). This was a pleasant surprise for an Illinois team that was likely not expecting either one of these rare talents to return for another season. It may take a lot for Dosunmu to contend with Garza, but there is no debate that he is one of the biggest stars to keep an eye out for heading into tournament play.


Sam Kirk is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email sjk6325@psu.edu.