Usually, by mid-February, it’s pretty obvious who will win the Wooden Award. Or at the very least, the competition has been whittled to two players.
Not this season.
With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the race for college basketball’s most prestigious award is still wide open, with players and teams yo-yoing week to week. Here’s my latest ballot.
Victor Oladipo, Indiana -- The guard/small forward is averaging 19.5 points and eight rebounds in his past two games for No. 1-ranked Indiana. His energy is infectious, his leadership the main reason the Hoosiers lead the nation’s toughest conference.
Mason Plumlee, Duke -- After a few mediocre weeks in early January, the early-season favorite for this award is beginning to surge once again. Plumlee is averaging 21.4 points and nine rebounds in his past five games.
Trey Burke, Michigan -- It’s hard to stay at the top of this list when your team loses three of its past four games -- especially when you’re a point guard. Not that the Wolverines’ struggles are all Burke’s fault. He’s scored 15 or more points in 19 of his past 20 games.
Doug McDermott, Creighton -- The Bluejays, who are the heavy favorite to win the MVC title, have lost three in a row. McDermott is averaging 15.7 points and shooting just 44.7 percent in those setbacks. His season averages are 23 points and 55.3 percent.
Ben McLemore, Kansas -- The potential No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA draft leads Kansas with 16.8 points per game. He’s shooting 51.3 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from 3-point range. McLemore scored 30 points in Monday’s win against K-State.
On the cusp (names listed alphabetically):
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame -- The Fighting Irish have won five of their past six games, thanks in large part to Cooley, who is averaging 14.7 points and 11.2 rebounds, which ranks fifth in the country.
Colton Iverson, Colorado State -- The Minnesota transfer is a key reason the Rams are a half-game out of first place in the Mountain West standings. He’s averaging team highs in points (13.5) and rebounds (9.8).
Joe Jackson, Memphis -- The Tigers are undefeated in Conference USA and winners of 15 straight games because of Jackson, who leads Memphis in points (13.9) and assists (4.8). Jackson is shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 49.1 percent from 3-point range.
Shane Larkin, Miami -- The point guard is the clear-cut leader of a Hurricanes squad that is 11-0 in the ACC. He’s averaging 13.4 points and 4.3 assists this season. In his past five games, those numbers have risen to 17.6 and 5.2.
Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga -- The 7-foot Canadian had 20 points in Saturday’s win over Loyola Marymount and is now shooting 65.2 percent from the field. He and the Zags have a big game Thursday at Saint Mary’s.
Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown -- The versatile Hoyas forward is averaging 15.3 points this season and 18.5 points in his past nine games. He’s the main reason Georgetown is in contention for the Big East title.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State -- The freshman guard is averaging 18.6 points in his past five games and 14.4 points this season for the Cowboys, who are tied with Kansas and Kansas State for first place in the Big 12 standings.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State -- Thomas’ 26 points weren’t enough in Sunday’s loss to Indiana, the second straight setback for the Buckeyes. Thomas is averaging 20.1 points and shooting 46 percent from the field.
Jeff Withey, Kansas -- On Monday, the Jayhawks’ center broke Greg Ostertag’s school record for career blocks, and he needs just one more to pass Texas’ Chris Mihm as the Big 12’s all-time leader.
Cody Zeller, Indiana -- The Hoosiers center is in the midst of one of his best stretches of the season. He’s averaging 16.5 points and 8.2 rebounds for an Indiana team that takes on Purdue on Saturday in Bloomington.