Yes, the 2011 John R. Wooden Award finalists are here. The award is organized by the Los Angeles Athletic Club and voted on by "nearly 1,000 members of the media that cover college basketball," and if you're surprised at the idea that there are 1,000 college hoops writers in the world, well, you're not the only one. (Lots of those ballots go to columnists and generalists who don't specifically cover the sport year-round ... but that's a topic for another blog post on another day.)
Who made the cut? The list is below, and it includes pretty much everyone you'd expect from a list of college hoops' best and brighest individual stars. The rundown:
Marshon Brooks, guard, Providence
Alec Burks, guard, Colorado
Norris Cole, guard, Cleveland State
Kenneth Faried, forward,Morehead State
Jimmer Fredette* guard, Brigham Young
Jordan Hamilton, forward, Texas
Ben Hansbrough, guard, Notre Dame
Dwight Hardy, guard, St. John’s
JaJuan Johnson, guard PurdueBig Ten
Kawhi Leonard, forward, San Diego State
Jon Leuer, forward, Wisconsin
E’Twaun Moore, guard, Purdue
Marcus Morris, forward, Kansas
Jacob Pullen, guard, Kansas State
Kyle Singler, forward, Duke
Nolan Smith, guard, Duke
Jared Sullinger, forward, Ohio State
Jordan Taylor, guard, Wisconsin
Kemba Walker, guard, Connecticut
Derrick Williams, forward, Arizona
Well, done, Los Angeles Athletic Club. That is a borderline peerless list.
But it isn't perfect. The most notable omission (perhaps the only notable omission) is Kentucky forward Terrence Jones, who has been one of the best players in the country throughout the season. Ken Pomeroy's latest player of the year award list ranks Jones as the eighth-most productive player in the country this season, and while Pomeroy's POY metric doesn't account entirely for the defensive side of the ball, player of the year awards are never all that concerned with the defensive end -- Brooks and Burks probably wouldn't be on the list above if they were -- so Pomeroy's list is as good a statistical look as we have. And, well, yeah: Jones should be among the Wooden candidates. There's really no getting around it.
That said, his omission isn't criminal. Jones deserves some POY consideration, but let's be real: He's not winning the award. Nor are 19 of the players listed above. Unless something radical changes, Fredette is going to win the Wooden and Naismith player of the year awards. If the voting does change anytime soon, the award is likely to go to Walker, Smith, or Sullinger.
In other words, this list has all the usual suspects. We'll see if any of the candidates has time to unseat the Jimmer in the weeks to come. It's unlikely ... but, hey, you never know.