John R. Wooden Award List Highlighted by 9 Freshmen

Denny Medley-USATODAY Sports

The John R. Wooden award is given every year to the best basketball player in the NCAA. On Tuesday afternoon, the 50 nominees for this season’s Wooden award were announced at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

With the 2013-14 season being the most talked about one-and-done season in college basketball since the 2007 class of Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo and Eric Gordon, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that nine freshmen made the list.

Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Jabari Parker, Andrew Harrison, James Young, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden Jr. are all vying to become the third freshman ever to win the prestigious award; Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis are the two previous freshmen winners. As of right now, the favorite to win the award would be Wiggins.

Wiggings has been heralded as the next _______ (fill in the blank with who you think is the best player in the NBA.) He is long and athletic, can shoot, create and he is also a good and willing passer. With fellow freshman Embiid and Selden Jr. playing next to him at Kansas, Wiggins will have a good supporting cast that should equate to a season that goes deep into March, if not April.

The freshmen are featured on this year’s Wooden list, but there are a few upperclassmen who will take their shot at Wiggins and the other young guys. Aaron Craft, Keith Appling and Russ Smith are all leaders on teams that are expected to make a run at a National Title, and you know how the old-fashioned sportswriters like to shun freshman. If any of these three upperclassmen can improve on their already storied careers, they could challenge the young guys, but if any of these freshman breakout a Durant-like freshman campaign, it won’t matter what Craft, Appling or Smith do on the court.

Here are all 50 of the Wooden Award nominees (listed in alphabetical order) that will be narrowed down to 20 sometime in January.

Follow Robbie on Twitter @rmarbury

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