Midway through the NCAA regular season, and in the throes of conference action, the 30 top candidates for the John R. Wooden Award, the nation’s most coveted college basketball award, were named today by The Los Angeles Athletic Club’s John R. Wooden Award Committee. Composed of the top 30 players who will compete for this season’s player of the year award, the midseason list is based on individual player performance and team records during the first half of the season.
“This was another year where a lot of players have been surprises,” said Duke Llewellyn, Wooden Award chairman. “Players across the nation stepped up and made a case for themselves, whether they were veteran players or freshmen. We look forward to continuing to follow these talented players as we determine the 10 candidates for the Wooden Award All-American Team.”
Heading the list are returning Wooden All-Americans Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina and Brandon Rush of Kansas, whose teams have been ranked in the Top 10 all season. CSTV.com continues to follow the Wooden Award, and its team of experts ranks its own top candidates each week at:
Eleven players have been selected to the midseason Top 30 who were not on the preseason list. This impressive group includes returning players enjoying breakout seasons (Brian Roberts of Dayton, Raymar Morgan of Michigan State, Wayne Ellington of North Carolina, Luke Harangody of Notre Dame and Sam Young of Pittsburgh), and freshmen James Harden of Arizona State, Eric Gordon of Indiana, Michael Beasley of Kansas State, Derrick Rose of Memphis and local stars Kevin Love of UCLA and USC’s O.J. Mayo.
Four Top 10 schools have multiple players nominated: North Carolina (Ellington and Hansbrough); Memphis (Chris Douglas-Roberts and Rose); Kansas (Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush); and Indiana (Gordon and D.J White).
The Pac-10 (7 players) has the most players chosen to the Wooden Midseason Top 30, followed by the ACC with 5, Big 12 with four, the SEC Big East, and Big 10 with three each, Conference USA with two, and the Atlantic 10, Southern and Metro Atlantic Athletic each with one.
Players who do not make the Midseason list are still eligible for the national ballot, which will be selected in March and will consist of approximately 20 players, chosen by the Wooden Award National Advisory Board Committee, who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA.
More than 1,000 voters, comprised of sports media members and college basketball experts from across the nation, will then cast their votes to determine both the 10-member All-American Team and Player of the Year. In late March, the 10-player Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced.
The 2008 Award ceremony, which will include the presentation of the Men’s and Women’s Wooden Award winners, the Wooden Award All-American Teams, and the Legends of Coaching Award to Pat Summitt of the University of Tennessee, will be held at The Los Angeles Athletic Club the weekend of April 11-12. The 32nd Annual Wooden Award Gala, with a reception and dinner program, will take place the evening of Friday, April 11 at the Sheraton Downtown Los Angeles. On Saturday, April 12, the Wooden Award Announcement and trophy presentation will be televised, followed by a press conference and sponsor reception.
The top five male and female finalists will be invited to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony and will receive a contribution from The Los Angeles Athletic Club for their university’s general scholarship fund.
About the John R. Wooden Award
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), and Tim Duncan (’97) and last year’s recipients, Kevin Durant of Texas and returning player Candace Parker of Tennessee.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed nearly one million dollars to universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the All-American recipients and has sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the Award’s name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All-American players, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on the Friday of the John R. Wooden Award weekend.
Story Courtesy: The Woodon Award & UT Sports Information