Wooden Award announces its preseason Top 50 players watchlist

November 12, 2013

The Los Angeles Athletic Club announced its Preseason Top 50 watchlist today of the student-athletes who are the early front-runners for college basketball's most prestigious honor, the John R. Wooden Award.  The players were selected based on a poll of national college basketball experts.

Not surprisingly, some of the more intriguing names have only played a handful of games at the Division I level, as this season's list is chock full of talented freshmen.

Among those first-year stars are Duke's Jabari Parker and Kansas' Andrew Wiggins, both of whom have caused some NBA franchises to seemingly tank their seasons in order to increase their odds of landing one of these players in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Other high-impact freshmen included in the Top 50 list were Aaron Gordon of Arizona, and Kentucky's Andrew Harrison and Julius Randle.

The Pac-12 had six selections overall from five different schools, including two players from UCLA, swingman Jordan Adams and versatile forward Kyle Anderson.  Kentucky had the most players on the list, with four.

Although the freshmen sensations might be getting most of the media buzz, several seniors familiar to March Madness fans also are in the running.

The most prominent is Creighton senior forward Doug McDermott, a Wooden Award All American in 2012 and 2013, who led Team USA in scoring (14.9 ppg) this summer at the World University Games. He averaged 23.2 points and 7.7 rebounds last season to lead Creighton to a 28-8 record.  Interestingly, McDermott will play as a walk-on for the Bluejays in their first year in the Big East this season.

Other upperclassmen to watch include streaky guard Russ Smith of the defending champion Louisville Cardinals, and lockdown defensive specialist Aaron Craft of Ohio State.

The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the midseason list and the official voting ballot, which will consist of approximately 20 top players who have shown progress toward graduation and a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Wooden Award's ten-player All American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” during the NCAA Tournament.

Created in 1976, previous John R. Wooden Award winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Candace Parker (’07 and ’08), Kevin Durant (’09) and Maya Moore of Connecticut (’09 and ‘11). Michigan’s Trey Burke was last season's winner.

Here are the Top 50 preseason selections:

Jordan Adams - UCLA 6-5 So. G
Kyle Anderson - UCLA 6-9 So. G/F
Keith Appling - Michigan State 6-1 Sr. G
Isaiah Austin - Baylor 7-1 So. C
Jahii Carson - Arizona State 5-10 So. G
Willie Cauley-Stein - Kentucky 7-0 So. F
Semaj Christon - Xavier 6-3 So. G
Aaron Craft - Ohio State 6-2 Sr. G
Sam Dekker - Wisconsin 6-7 So. F
Spencer Dinwiddie - Colorado 6-6 Jr. G
Cleanthony Early - Wichita State 6-8 Sr. F
Joel Embiid - Kansas 7-0 Fr. C
C.J. Fair - Syracuse 6-8 Sr. F
Aaron Gordon - Arizona 6-9 Fr. F
Jerian Grant - Notre Dame 6-5 Sr. G
Montrezl Harrell - Louisville 6-8 So. F
Gary Harris - Michigan State 6-4 So. G
Joe Harris - Virginia 6-6 Sr. G
Andrew Harrison - Kentucky 6-6 Fr. G
Tyler Haws - BYU 6-5 Jr. G
Andre Hollins - Minnesota 6-2 Jr. G
Rodney Hood - Duke 6-8 So. F
Joe Jackson - Memphis 6-1 Sr. G
Cory Jefferson - Baylor 6-9 Sr. F
Sean Kilpatrick - Cincinnati 6-4 Sr. G
Alex Kirk - New Mexico 7-0 Jr. C
James Michael McAdoo - North Carolina 6-9 Jr. F
Doug McDermott - Creighton 6-8 Sr. F
Mitch McGary - Michigan 6-10 So. F
Jordan McRae - Tennessee 6-6 Sr. G
Shabazz Napier - Connecticut 6-1 Sr. G
Kevin Pangos - Gonzaga 6-2 Jr. G
Jabari Parker - Duke 6-8 Fr. F
Adreian Payne - Michigan State 6-10 Sr. C
Elfrid Payton - Louisiana 6-3 Jr. G
Dwight Powell - Stanford 6-10 Sr. F
Julius Randle - Kentucky 6-9 Fr. F
Juvonte Reddic - VCU 6-9 Sr. F
Glenn Robinson III - Michigan 6-6 So. F
LaQuinton Ross - Ohio State 6-8 Jr. F
Wayne Selden, Jr. - Kansas 6-5 Fr. G
Marcus Smart - Oklahoma State 6-4 So. G
Russ Smith - Louisville 6-0 Sr. G
Jarnell Stokes - Tennessee 6-8 Jr. F
Rasheed Sulaimon - Duke 6-4 So. G
Noah Vonleh - Indiana 6-10 Fr. F
Dez Wells - Maryland 6-5 Jr. G/F
Andrew Wiggins - Kansas 6-8 Fr. G
Kendall Williams - New Mexico 6-4 Sr. G
James Young - Kentucky 6-6 Fr. G

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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