Wooden Watch: Final Four Edition
Every college basketball season, the Wooden Award, named after basketball icon and John Wooden, is given to the most outstanding player in college basketball.
The latest list of nominees consisted of 16 names and was released in early March, before the tournament began. For much of the season, it was a battle between junior Zach Edey of the Purdue Boilermakers and freshman Brandon Miller of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Miller may have been the favorite to win the award after Edey’s Boilermakers crumbled in the first round as a No. 1 seed, but an abysmal tournament from Miller may leave the door open. Miller finished the regular season averaging 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a 6-foot 9-inch forward, while leading the Crimson Tide to the No.1 seed in the final AP Poll.
The tournament was challenging for Miller as he struggled to do what was so easy for him in the regular season - score. He scored only 28 points total in the three tournament games he played and shot under 20% from the floor. Miller is still a consensus top-three pick in NBA mock drafts, but a historically bad stretch may cost him the Wooden award.
However, the tournament was not kind to Edey’s resume either. 7-foot 4-inch Edey was bounced in the field of 64, and suffered a loss to the shortest roster in the country. Edey still played a serviceable game, scoring 21 points on 7/11 field goal shooting. After March Madness, it may be fair to say Edey has regained his spot as the favorite.
NCAA basketball featured an abundance of great athletes this season, and those who won’t be recognized still deserve praise for tremendous 2023 campaigns.
The Penn State Nittany Lions Jalen Pickett showcased the greatest season of basketball by an individual player in Penn State’s history.
Pickett exemplified what it means to be an all-around player - comparable to a five-tool player in baseball, Pickett left no weak spots in his basketball game. As a 6-foot 4-inch guard, Pickett was dominant on the glass, averaging 7.4 rebounds per game and paired that with 17.7 points per game and 6.6 assists. Pickett took the Nittany Lions to their first NCAA Tournament in 12 seasons.
Trayce Jackson-Davis will be one player who may wish he could’ve played in a different season. If Edey hadn’t had the historic year he’s had for Purdue, Jackson-Davis may be the most-deserving recipient of the Wooden award.
Jackson-Davis averaged 20 points per game to go along with 10 rebounds as a forward for the Indiana Hoosiers. He’s top-16 in the country in both those stats. And unlike Edey, Jackson-Davis had a very impressive March. Dominating in the conference tournament and leading the Hoosiers to the Sweet Sixteen.
The last real competition for the Wooden award may be the Gonzaga Bulldogs senior forward Drew Timme. Timme has had one of the most prolific careers in college basketball history, and he featured his best basketball in his final year.
While leading the Bulldogs to a 31-6 record, Timme scored 21.2 points per game on exceptional efficiency, shooting 61.6 percent from the field.
Other considerations could be made for players such as Jalen Wilson for the Kansas Jayhawks, Kris Murray for the Iowa Hawkeyes, Azuolas Tubelis for the Arizona Wildcats and Jaime Jaquez Jr. for the UCLA Bruins.
Sketch Morton is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email Sam7539@psu.edu.
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