A new leader has emerged in the race for the Wooden Award. Creighton’s Doug McDermott, who has been No. 2 on my ballot for most the season, has catapulted ahead of Duke forward Mason Plumlee for the top spot.
McDermott ranks second in the nation with 24 points per game. In his past two contests, McDermott is averaging 35 points for No. 12 Creighton, which will take a 17-1 record into Saturday’s game at Wichita State.
Here is this week’s ballot.
Doug McDermott, Creighton: Along with his gaudy scoring totals, McDermott leads the Bluejays with 7.2 rebounds a game. McDermott earned first-team All-America honors last season and seems well on his way to repeating that feat in 2013.
Mason Plumlee, Duke: The senior ranks fifth in the nation in rebounds (11.4) for a Blue Devils squad that boasts as strong of a resume as any team in the country. Plumlee scored 15 points in Saturday’s loss at NC State, Duke’s first setback of the season.
Trey Burke, Michigan: The Wolverines also recently lost for the first time this season, falling at Ohio State on Sunday. Burke was certainly part of the reason. He scored 15 points but made only four of his 13 shots from the field. He also had four turnovers.
Jeff Withey, Kansas: The Jayhawks' 7-foot center continues to be the top defensive player in the country. He blocked three shots in Monday’s win against Baylor and altered a slew of others. He’s the reason the Jayhawks lead the country in defensive 2-point field goal percentage.
Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State: The Buckeyes' wing is one of the top pure scorers in the country. He’s averaging 20.3 points on the season and 22 points in his last four games, including Sunday’s victory over then-unbeaten Michigan.
On the cusp:
Anthony Bennett, UNLV: The freshman entered Wednesday’s game at San Diego State averaging 19.6 points and 9.3 rebounds. No freshman in the country has been as productive as Bennett.
Jahii Carson, Arizona State: It’s time to admit the 14-3 Sun Devils are for real -- and so is Carson. The freshman point guard averages 17.1 points and 5.2 assists. Arizona State hosts No. 7 Arizona on Saturday.
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse: The nation’s assists leader with 9.4 per game also ranks fourth in the country in steals (3.2). Carter-Williams faces the biggest test of his young career Saturday at No. 1 Louisville.
Erick Green, Virginia Tech: Even though his team is struggling, it’s hard to keep Green off this list. He leads the nation in scoring with 24.8 points per game and is shooting just below 50 percent from the field. That’s a high number for a guard who takes 16.3 shots per game.
Ben McLemore, Kansas: Scouts are buzzing that the Jayhawks wing could be the No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA draft. McLemore has cooled off a bit since last week’s 33-point effort against Iowa State. He’s averaging 13.5 points in his past two games.
Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA: The Bruins freshman leads the team in scoring with 18.2 points per game but is averaging only 10 in his past two contests. He’ll need to come up big against Pac-12 co-league leader Oregon this weekend.
Victor Oladipo, Indiana: Oladipo scored only 10 points in Tuesday’s home loss to Wisconsin. On the season, though, he has been the most important player on a team that has legitimate NCAA title hopes.
Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga: The 7-foot-1 Olynk has blossomed into one of the top post players in the country. He’ll take an 18.1 scoring average into Saturday’s road tilt with Butler, with the "College GameDay" crew on hand.
Russ Smith, Louisville: The hiccup-quick guard has keyed the Cardinals’ climb to the top of the Associated Press poll. Smith’s 18.9 points per game are a team high. Saturday’s home tilt against Syracuse could be one of the top games of the season thus far.
Cody Zeller, Indiana: Tuesday’s home loss to Wisconsin certainly didn’t occur because of Zeller, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds. He’s averaging 16.9 points and 7.9 boards on the season.