Jason King's Wooden Watch
November, 15, 2012
By Jason King | ESPN.com
When college basketball opened play last week, Doug McDermott of Creighton and Indiana forward Cody Zeller were touted as the leading candidates for the Wooden Award. Two games into the 2012-13 season, nothing has changed.
Zeller is averaging 20 points and 9.5 rebounds. Foul trouble limited McDermott to five points in Wednesday’s win over UAB, but it’ll take more than one poor showing to knock one of the game’s most competitive, highly skilled players from his perch.
Still, even though Zeller and McDermott are the leaders, plenty of other players turned heads during college basketball’s opening week. Based on their performances thus far, here are 10 standouts that Wooden Award voters may want to watch in the coming weeks and months.
Keith Appling, Michigan State -- Four days after scoring 17 points in a season-opening loss to Connecticut in Germany, Appling helped the Spartans bounce back with a 19-point effort in a 67-64 victory over Kansas. The guard hit two clutch shots in the waning moments -- a 3-pointer with 1:35 remaining and an acrobatic lay-up with 13 seconds left -- to clinch the win.
Isaiah Austin, Baylor -- The 7-foot-1 freshman center couldn’t have been more dazzling in his college debut last week. Austin had 22 points, four rebounds and two blocks in just 17 minutes in a victory over Lehigh. Showing his versatility, Austin mixed in a pair of 3-pointers with a few nasty dunks. Austin sprained his ankle midway through the second half and did not return.
Trey Burke, Michigan -- The Wolverines’ first three wins have come by an average of 35 points, and Burke is the main reason. The preseason All-American is averaging 18.8 points and eight assists. His turnovers (3.7 per game) are a bit high, but that should change as Michigan develops more cohesion.
Seth Curry, Duke -- The ninth-ranked Blue Devils got a massive boost from Curry in Tuesday’s 75-68 win over No. 3 Kentucky. Curry scored 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including a 3-of-5 mark from 3-point range. He’s averaging 19 points through two games and is connecting on 50 percent of his field goals and 3-point attempts.
Brandon Davies, Brigham Young -- A forward, Davies is averaging 22 points and eight rebounds for the 2-0 Cougars, but even more impressive is that he’s shooting 74 percent from the field while also chipping in three assists per game. He’ll face a good test when BYU takes on Florida State Friday.
James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina -- The future NBA lottery pick is flourishing in his increased role after playing behind John Henson and Tyler Zeller last season. McAdoo is averaging 22.5 points and 12.5 rebounds through two games. We’ll get a better look at him during next week’s Maui Invitational.
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh -- Anyone who watched Lehigh’s game against Baylor understands why McCollum was tabbed as a preseason All-American. The guard lit up the Bears for 36 points despite being heavily guarded by defensive standouts such as A.J. Walton and Deuce Bello. McCollum is averaging 24 points through three games and is shooting 50 percent from the field.
Phil Pressey, Missouri -- The player who some feel is the nation’s top point guard is off to a solid start for the 2-0 Tigers. Pressey is averaging team-highs in points (20.0) and assists (5.5). Missouri has yet to be tested, but that will change next week when they open against Stanford in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The tournament also features Duke, Memphis, Minnesota, Louisville and others.
Scootie Randall, Temple -- Randall missed all of last season with a knee injury, but he hardly showed any rust when he returned the court for the first time on Tuesday. The guard scored a career-high 31 points on 10-of-19 shooting to spark the Owls to an 80-66 victory over a Kent State squad that was high on momentum after upsetting Drexel.
Isaiah Sykes, Central Florida -- Forward Keith Clanton is generally regarded as the Knights’ top player but, through two games, 6-foot-5 Sykes has commanded most of the headlines. Sykes had 26 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in a mild upset of South Florida in the season opener. In two games, he’s averaging 24.5 points. 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists.