Wooden Award Watch: Week 3
We are a couple weeks into the college basketball season. The Big Ten vs. ACC challenge has just concluded (in which the Big Ten surprised a lot of fans and gave the ACC a run for their money) and some of the preseason favorites in the Wooden Award race are starting to either assert their dominance or fall by the wayside. Let’s look at the hot candidates for college hoops’ most prestigious award for Wooden Watch.
RJ Barrett, Freshman, Forward, Duke
Barrett is one of the three stars that perennial powerhouse Duke possesses, and he has posted impressive numbers to start the season. Barrett has posted 23.1 points per game, along with 6.3 rebounds per game and 4.0 assists per game.
His highlight performances so far this season have been against No. 8 Auburn with 18 points and nine rebounds, as well as a remarkable effort in a loss against No. 3 Gonzaga with 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Barrett is no doubt a highly talented player, but his chances to win the Wooden hardware may depend on the success of his superstar teammates Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson. If one of the other two players he stars alongside takes on a more prominent offensive role for the Blue Devils, those left to take on a supporting role may find themselves boxed out of the race.
Carsen Edwards- Junior Guard, Purdue
Edwards, the de facto leader of this year’s Boilermakers squad, is off to a torrid start to the season. Edwards is averaging 24.4 points per game, three rebounds per game and four assists per game.
With the loss of Vincent Edwards and Isaac Haas, the aforementioned Edwards has been forced to take on an even larger role for Purdue. His field goals attempted per game are up to 19.3 from 13.5 during the 2017-2018 season.
The downside of having the ball in his hands more is more wear-and-tear on his body, but turnovers also. Edwards already has reached half of his turnover total from last season: 32 in 2018-2019, as opposed to 64 for 2017-2018.
Ethan Happ- Senior Forward, Wisconsin
Happ is trying to lead his Badgers back to national prominence and snag the Wooden Award all before he leaves Madison. Happ has been keeping on pace with his career scoring numbers with 17.7 points per game.
However, most impressive is that along with the scoring, he is averaging a double-double, with 10.8 rebounds per game and is spreading the rock around with a career-high five assists per game.
Happ most recently posted 20 points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal in a 69-64 win over a Rutgers team that has looked much improved to start the season. Happ is a bit of an underdog candidate, as players with more national attention on Duke or even Michigan might garner more attention, but if Happ continues to play consistently, he could garner serious consideration.
Jeremy Ganes is a Sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.