Saturday , July 2 2022

Gonzaga, Auburn place two each on final men’s Wooden Award ballot; Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe considered front-runner

The 15-player national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award was revealed Saturday, with two standouts from top-ranked Gonzaga among those on the list.

Junior forward Drew Timme, who helped power the Zags to a national championship game appearance last season, and freshman phenom Chet Holmgren are the two Bulldogs on the ballot. The 6-foot-10 Timme leads the 24-3 Zags with 17.6 points per game while also averaging 6.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists. Timme was named the WCC Player of the Year on Thursday.

The 7-0 Holmgren joins Duke‘s Paolo Banchero and Auburn‘s Jabari Smith as one of three freshmen on the ballot. Holmgren, ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s latest 2022 NBA mock draft, averages 14.4 points and a team-high 9.7 rebounds and 3.6 blocks. He is among the nation’s leaders by shooting 72.7% on 2-pointers as well as an impressive 43.8% on 39 made 3s.

The leading Wooden candidate is widely perceived to be Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who leads the nation with 15.3 rebounds to go along with a team-high 16.9 points and 1.5 blocks. Should he sustain his average, Tshiebwe’s rebound numbers would be Division I’s best since Monti Davis of Tennessee State averaged 16.2 in the 1978-79 season.

The Big Ten leads all conferences with five players on the final ballot: IllinoisKofi Cockburn, Wisconsin‘s Johnny Davis, Purdue‘s Jaden Ivey, Ohio State‘s E.J. Liddell and Iowa‘s Keegan Murray.

Of the 15 players on the final ballot, 10 appear in the first round of ESPN’s latest mock draft, including Auburn big man Walker Kessler (No. 18), the only addition to the ballot since the Wooden Watch late-season list was revealed in February. Kessler is averaging 11.6 points and 8.2 rebounds for a Tigers team that holds down a No. 1 seed in ESPN’s latest Bracketology projection.

The six players trimmed from February’s 20-player Wooden Watch list were Max Abmas (Oral Roberts), James Akinjo (Baylor), Zach Edey (Purdue), Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana), Isaiah Mobley (USC) and David Roddy (Colorado State).


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