Thursday, February 21, 2013
Wooden Watch: King's POY ballot
By Jason King
Victor Oladipo maintained his lead in the race for the Wooden Award with a 19-point performance in Indiana's 72-68 victory at Michigan State on Tuesday.
But who are his biggest competitors?
With less than three weeks remaining in the regular season, voters would be justified in going a number of ways. Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk, Duke's Mason Plumlee and Michigan's Trey Burke are all deserving. With so many conference races coming down to the wire, there will be plenty of opportunities for these players and others to shine in big games and big moments.
In the meantime, here is my latest ballot.
1. Victor Oladipo, Indiana -- The junior had nine rebounds, five steals and a block to go along with his 19 points against Michigan State. Not bad for a guy playing on a severely sprained ankle. The most impressive Oladipo stat: He is shooting 63.9 percent from the field.
2. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State -- The freshman guard has completely changed OSU's program. Smart averages 15 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.9 steals a game. But it's his leadership and moxie that has made the biggest impact. The Cowboys rally around Smart.
3. Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga -- The 7-foot junior had 14 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes against Santa Clara on Wednesday. He is averaging 17.9 points, 6.9 boards and 1.2 blocks on the season for a squad that is three wins away from finishing WCC play without a loss.
4. Trey Burke, Michigan -- The Wolverines point guard is averaging 23.5 points in his last two games while shooting 16-of-27 from the field. He has made six of his last nine attempts from 3-point range and nine of his last 10 foul shots. Burke was No. 1 on this list just two weeks ago before Michigan began to struggle.
5. Mason Plumlee, Duke -- Saturday's 83-81 loss to Maryland did serious damage to Plumlee's Wooden Award hopes. He had just four points and three rebounds in 33 minutes against standout Terrapins center Alex Len and managed to get off only seven shots.
On the cusp (listed alphabetically):
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame -- The Notre Dame forward is averaging 14.5 points and 11.1 rebounds on the season. His rebounding figure ranks fifth in the country. Notre Dame is in contention for the Big East title thanks mainly to Cooley.
Colton Iverson, Colorado State -- The Minnesota transfer averages team highs in points (13.7) and rebounds (9.6). The Rams host New Mexico on Saturday in a game that could decide the Mountain West title. Iverson will have to come up big.
Joe Jackson, Memphis -- The junior guard is averaging 13.7 points and 4.7 assists for a team that is undefeated in Conference USA. The Tigers have won a nation-best 17 straight games. Jackson is shooting 53.9 percent from the field.
Shane Larkin, Miami -- The son of the former MLB star averaged just nine points in close wins over Clemson and Virginia, but everyone knows the Hurricanes wouldn't be 13-0 in the ACC if not for the sophomore point guard. Miami's next two games are against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.
Doug McDermott, Creighton -- It's not as if McDermott isn't playing well, but he hasn't been the dominant force so many fans have come to expect. McDermott had just 10 points in Tuesday's win over Southern Illinois. He is averaging 22.5 points on the season but only 15.6 points in his last five games.
Ben McLemore, Kansas -- The freshman guard had one of his worst games of the season in Wednesday's double-overtime victory against Oklahoma State, when he tallied just seven points on 3-of-12 shooting. He is averaging a team-high 16.3 points on the season while shooting 50 percent from the field.
Otto Porter, Georgetown -- The forward sat out most of the second half of Wednesday's victory over DePaul with a sore knee. But Porter still finished with 11 points and is averaging 15.1 points and 7.7 rebounds on the season. Georgetown's next two games are road tilts with Syracuse and Connecticut.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State -- The Buckeyes small forward has a gaudy scoring average (20.1 ppg), but he is shooting just 40 percent from the field in his last five games. Thomas went 6-of-16 from the field in Wednesday's blowout win over Minnesota.
Jeff Withey, Kansas -- The 7-foot senior keyed KU's double-overtime win against Oklahoma State on Wednesday with 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. Withey will be a candidate for the Most Valuable Player award in the Big 12 along with McLemore and Smart.
Cody Zeller, Indiana -- The Hoosiers center is averaging 16.6 points on the season and 19 points in his last four games. He scored 17 points against Michigan State on Tuesday but was 7-of-16 from the field. Still, Zeller was aggressive, which is exactly what coach Tom Crean wants to see.