Wooden Watch: Week 16
March is only two weeks away, and that means it’s crunch time in college basketball. It’s time for the top players in the nation to show what they are made of down the stretch to help their respective teams make their final pushes toward March Madness. The players who make the most difference for their teams in February and March are the ones who prove themselves worthy of winning the Wooden Award, which is annually handed out to the best player in the nation. With so many talented players this year, let’s declutter the list by naming the top four most qualified to win the award.
Obi Toppin, Dayton
Dayton basketball struggled to be relevant after the departure of former head coach Sean Miller, but the Flyers are having a resurgence this season because of the play of sophomore star Obi Toppin. Toppin leads a No. 5 Dayton squad with 19 points and seven rebounds per game. Many analysts recognize him as a top-10 pick in next year’s NBA draft because of his freak athleticism. If he plays well in the NCAA Tournament, the Flyers have a real chance to win it all. Toppin’s value to his team is truly why he deserves to be at the top of the list of players who could win the Wooden Award.
Myles Powell, Seton Hall
Coming into this season, Myles Powell was supposed to be one of the best players in the country, and he has exceeded expectations. His shooting has been exceptional this season, leading his No. 16 Seton Hall team with 21 points on 40% from the field. If Powell can help the Pirates finish in the top 10 in the nation and win the Big East conference title, he will have a chance to win the prestigious title of the best college basketball player in the nation.
Udoka Azubuike, Kansas
Over the years, Kansas has had many backcourt leaders like Frank Mason and Josh Jackson, but this year, the Jayhawks have a freak of nature at center who always sets the tone. Udoka Azubuike is an absolute beast that dominates the boards on both ends, and he simply rips the soul away from opposing teams. He is averaging 12 points and nine rebounds a game, and his presence on the offensive boards is the difference-maker for Kansas. If he continues to take over games, he will put himself in near the front of the line of candidates to win the Wooden Award.
Anthony Cowan Jr., Maryland
College basketball is full of outstanding guards, but few are on the level of Anthony Cowan Jr. Cowan is averaging 16 points and four assists per game for the No. 7 Maryland Terrapins. They are on top of the Big Ten right now, and Cowan Jr. been the finisher for the Maryland squad. He hit three straight buckets from long range in the last three minutes against Michigan State to beat the Spartans on their home floor. The only downside for Cowan Jr. is star forward Jalen Smith taking the attention away from him sometimes. But if Cowan continues to establish himself as the go-to guy in clutch time, he will remain one of the top contenders for the Wooden Award.
Ben Geller is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.