Wooden Award Watch: Week 17
Conference play is coming to a close, and March is only a week away. It is the time of the year where the elite players in the nation try their best to boost their team's NCAA Tournament resume. Most of the players on the preseason wooden watch have played well, but the surprise performances by several players off the list have made the Wooden Award, handed to the best player in the nation, hard to give out. Here I will make it easier by naming the top three players in position to receive the coveted award.
1. Luka Garza, Iowa
Before the season, all the talk was about the talented guards, but Iowa center Luka Garza garnered basketball fans' attention fast. He is a versatile big man that can shoot the ball from behind the arc and pound the ball in the paint.
The difference between this year and last year for Garza is how much stronger he got. He has powered his No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes to a 19-9 record while averaging 23 points and nine rebounds per game. If Garza continues to score and rebound at this pace, he will have a chance to take home the Wooden Award.
2. Markus Howard, Marquette
Trae Young amazed NCAA basketball fans with his long-range 3-point shooting two years ago, but Markus Howard takes his elite shooting to another level. Howard is a volume shooter that can be compared to James Harden.
There is no shot he does not like, and that shows in his stats. He is averaging 27 points and three assists per game on 41.5% shooting. The shooting percentage is the only aspect of his game that brings his stock down. If he leads Marquette deep in the Big East Conference tournament, he will have a good chance at winning the Wooden Award.
3. Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Unfortunately, Cassius Winston had such a poor start to the season, because he would have run away with the Wooden Award. His value to his team as an outstanding guard and leader is undeniable.
He has been the face of Michigan State Spartans basketball for a couple of years, and the one roadblock in his way for winning the award is the team failing to meet their high expectations.
Currently, No. 24 Michigan State is 19-9, but Winston will have to make a herculean effort to win the Big Ten Tournament. If Winston can help the team finish strong, then his leadership and six assists per game can lead him to the Wooden Award.
Ben Geller is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.