Wooden Watch: November 7
College basketball’s most prestigious individual honor is the John Wooden Award. The award is given to the single best player of each season and has been won by a number of great players over the years. As the 2021-2022 season approaches, here are the preseason favorites for this season’s Wooden Award.
Hunter Dickinson (Michigan)
At this point, it is seemingly a tradition for Michigan to routinely have a dominant center, and Hunter Dickinson can certainly fit that mold.
As a freshman last season, Dickinson put up an impressive stat line of 14 points and seven rebounds per game, while also shooting nearly 60% from the field.
With both Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers now departing from the Wolverines’ team, Dickinson will surely shoulder even more of the offensive load this upcoming season.
As long as he continues to control the low post like he did in his first season, Dickinson could soon emerge as one of the best players in the NCAA.
Johnny Juzang (UCLA)
Another player who could take huge strides this season is junior guard Johnny Juzang.
Juzang put on a clinic in last year’s NCAA Tournament, helping lead UCLA to a win in the First Four, before proving to be a major driving force for the Bruins eventual Final Four appearance.
Juzang’s big tournament (22.8 points per game across six games) caused many to believe he would enter the NBA draft, but instead he decided to return to school this season.
With UCLA no longer an underdog, but rather a clear-cut contender, there will be more pressure on Juzang and his teammates than ever.
However, if Juzang can maintain his elite scoring from last March, he could not only help UCLA to a championship, but also take home the honor of the John Wooden Award as well.
Drew Timme (Gonzaga)
Of course, it was Drew Timme and Gonzaga that ended Juzang’s run in March Madness in 2021.
While Jalen Suggs seemed to get a lot of the national shine last year, Timme was certainly no slouch either.
The forward put up an impressive 19 points and seven boards for Gonzaga in its near-perfect season.
Timme, similar to Juzang, could have entered the draft following his stellar season, but he instead will return for his junior year with the Bulldogs.
Timme is as formidable as they come in the frontcourt, and he could have an even better season than he did a year ago now that Suggs and Corey Kispert have left school.
Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)
Another Gonzaga player who could enjoy a terrific season is freshman center Chet Holmgren.
The top high school recruit of 2021 according to ESPN, Holmgren brings a lot of pedigree and talent to an already loaded Gonzaga team.
If he is truly the generational talent he is being projected as, Holmgren could easily have just as great of a season as his teammate Timme.
There is certainly the precedent, as freshman such as Zion Williamson and Anthony Davis have won the award in the past.
Joe Tuman is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.