With exactly 49 days till the opening of March Madness, now is as good a time as ever to start looking at potential Wooden Award candidates and for those who don’t know, the Wooden Award which was created in 1976, is a prestigious honor awarded to the most outstanding college basketball player for that particular year.
National Player of the Year Ballot:
1. Trey Burke, Michigan: The sophomore point guard from Columbus, Ohio is currently averaging 17.9 points and 7.1 assist per game with an incredible 56 eFG%. Through the first twenty-one games, much of the media have proclaimed him to be the best guard in the country and it’s truly hard to argue otherwise. One of his biggest attributes that is rarely discussed is his ability to keep possessions for his team by not turning the ball over as averages 1.9 turnovers per game while using 28 percent of his team’s possessions. For you draft nuts, Burke is currently ranked 18th on DraftExpress.com latest mock draft which seems about right. Burke seems to have the necessary speed and shot-making ability to play at the next level but some scouts are questioning his size and ability to defend bigger guards.
2. Jeff Withey, Kansas: The fifth-year senior from San Diego, California has experienced quite the transformation throughout his tenure under Bill Self. He’s paid his dues and played behind the likes of Cole Aldrich, Thomas Robinson, and the Morris twins and now is currently averaging 13.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and an incredible 4.3 blocks per game. As an individual who has watched every single Kansas basketball game this season, there is absolutely no way the Jayhawks would be having as successful of a season without Jeff Withey on the defensive end of the floor. Withey burst onto the scene in last year’s NCAA tournament when he set the block record by swatting 31 shots in 6 games.. Many compare him to last year’s POY in Anthony Davis as they’re similar in the sense that they both both impact both ends of the floor while playing. When Withey is playing, KU is a +305 on the year compared to +21 when he sits on the bench (pretty damn impressive; Anthony Davis like) Currently, Withey is 27th on DraftExpress’ latest mock draft as scouts aren’t convinced that his defensive ability to block shots without fouling will translate to the NBA. In my opinion, Withey is going to have to develop a niche of a great rebounder and defender to truly make an impact on a NBA squad.
3. Doug McDermott, Creighton: The junior from Ames, Iowa, who yes, played with Harrison Barnes in high-school at Ames High for you trivia nerds, is currently having a fantastic season under his dad Greg McDermott in the Missouri Valley Conference. McDermott is currently averaging 23.9 points with 7.4 rebounds per game while ranking 18th in the country in FG% shooting 63.9 percent which is asinine in the sense that McDermott uses just under 32 percent of his team possessions. Now, there may be some doubt in the kind of numbers McDermott is putting up considering he’s playing in an inferior conference that is the Missouri Valley, but the man can truly ball at any level it seems like. One aspect of McDermott’s game that he could thoroughly improve is his ability to defend which NBA scouts seem to think he can’t do as he currently sits in the middle of the 2nd round on DraftExpress’ latest mock draft.
About the Author, Michael Gray:
Baseball and basketball enthusiast as well as a former baseball blogger for my beloved Toronto Blue Jays. Expect some Midwest bias in most of my writing as I’m currently a Junior at The University of Kansas. Rock Chalk Jayhawk! You can follow him on twitter at @Jays_Fan2.