A lot can still happen in the final few weeks of the season, but barring any major injuries or mishaps, Duke’s Mason Plumlee will win this year’s John Wooden Award. Sure, there are other competitors, and Plumlee won’t win in a landslide, but no one has done what Plumlee has done this season which is why he will rise to the top.
Plumlee currently finds himself averaging over 18 points, almost 11 rebounds and just under two blocks per game, and he is shooting just over 60% from the field. That overall line ranks among the best in the nation, but there is more to his case than just stats. Plumlee has posted these numbers against some of the best competition in the nation–Miami (FL), Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State and VCU, among others—as the Blue Devils have played one of the most difficult schedules in the country. Every team plays some creampuff opponents at some point–and Duke has won a few laughers for sure–but Duke went out of their way to play a difficult non-conference schedule and Plumlee has been solid since the very beginning.
But the reason he’ll win the award doesn’t even stop there. He has had to reinvent himself on the fly in a changing offensive scheme ever since towering teammate Ryan Kelly went down with an injury in early January. It took a couple games for Plumlee and the Blue Devils to get used to the new game plan of not having Kelly around to spread the floor and help free Plumlee up down low, but in the past five games Plumlee has really hit his stride, averaging over 21 points and nine rebounds in those contests. Despite the fact that defenses are keying in on him more with Kelly out of the lineup, they still can’t stop him and that says something about the way he is dominating games.
Victor Oladipo of Indiana, Ben McLemore of Kansas and one or two others will certainly merit consideration for this award, but when you combine Plumlee’s stats, Duke’s competition this season and the fact that Plumlee has had to make an enormous adjustment the second half of the season with Kelly out of the lineup, he is the most impressive candidate.
Mason Plumlee will win this year’s Wooden Award.