On Thursday morning, the top college basketball players were narrowed down to 25 for the midseason cut for the John Wooden Award, an award that is given to the best college basketball player every season. Earlier in the year when the top 50 players were listed for the original Wooden Award list, the list was dominated by freshmen, but as the season has progressed, those freshmen have been weeded out, and made room for more upperclassmen, as only five freshmen remain. The biggest omission from the updated Wooden Award list is that of Joel Embiid.
I for one was shocked to see Embiid on the first Wooden list. He came into the season still a very raw player, and was considered to be a player that needed more than one year in college. Instead, Embiid has played out of his mind, and is getting a lot of attention as the possible first overall pick in this June’s NBA Draft.
Embiid has been the best player on Kansas’ team over the last five weeks, a five-week span that has seen Kansas go from No. 18 up to No. 8 in the rankings. During this hot streak, Embiid has averaged 13.2 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game and 3.3 blocks per game in only 25.2 minutes per game. He is also shooting 71.4 percent from the field.
What Embiid has done as far as a developmental standpoint is beyond what anyone could have imagined this year. He wasn’t even guaranteed to be a one-and-done player and now he might be the first overall pick; that is insane.
Since 2009, only Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Cody Zeller and Jared Sullinger have had a higher PER in a major conference during their freshman season. Those are all pretty stellar names to be associated with when talking NCAA basketball. Embiid not being on this list is a joke, but I have a feeling he will be the last one laughing.
Here is the full list of the remaining 25 players up for the John Wooden Award:
Kyle Anderson – UCLAKeith Appling - Michigan StateCameron Bairstow – New Mexico
Jordan Clarkson – MissouriAaron Craft – Ohio StateSam Dekker – WisconsinCleanthony Early – Wichita State
Tyler Ennis – SyracuseC.J. Fair – SyracuseAaron Gordon – ArizonaRodney Hood – DukeNick Johnson – ArizonaDeAndre Kane – Iowa StateDoug McDermott CreightonShabazz Napier – ConnecticutJabari Parker – DukeAdreian Payne – Michigan StateCasey Prather – FloridaJulius Randle – KentuckyMarcus Smart – Oklahoma StateRuss Smith – LouisvilleT.J. Warren – North Carolina StateAndrew Wiggins – KansasChaz Williams – Massachusetts
Joseph Young – Oregon