Commentary

Scouting the Wooden Award watch list

Originally Published: October 3, 2011
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

ESPN.com has the list of 50 players the Wooden Award has recognized on its preseason watch list. It's important to note that freshmen and transfers are not eligible for this list but can be added during the season with other standout performers who didn't make the initial cut.

(Editor's note: For Andy Katz's list of "snubs" and currently unqualified players who might very well end up on the midseason Wooden watch list, click here.)

ESPN.com played no part in the selection of this preseason watch list by the Los Angeles Athletic Club, but after we got the roster of nominees, we asked opposing coaches to break down the skill sets of each of the 50 players on the condition of anonymity. Each coach is from the conference of the nominee.

Here is what they had to say:

Tim Abromaitis, 6-foot-8, Sr., F, Notre Dame
"He's a great shooter. He's a deceptive scorer off the dribble. Should have a breakout year with Ben Hansbrough graduating. He could be the focal point of their offense this year."

[+] EnlargeNorth Carolina Tar Heels
Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesThere's a reason UNC will be the preseason No. 1. All four of these players are on the Wooden preseason watch list, led by Harrison Barnes (far right).

Harrison Barnes, 6-8, So., F, UNC
"He has the ability to take his game to places most can't. I think his early-season experience dealing with hype and how he finished is significant. Not a lot of guys could have done that and taken their game to another level and start dominating. He has the ability to go to a level that few can in college. He can manufacture better than most to get his own shot."

Will Barton, 6-6, So., G, Memphis
"He has a really good feel for the game and is good at a lot of things. He's not great at any one thing. He has great size for a wing and is very effective at attacking the basket. But he is a streaky good perimeter shooter."

Dee Bost, 6-2, Sr., G, Mississippi State
"He has terrific physical skills. He probably should have stayed in the draft two years ago, because he would have made a team."

William Buford, 6-5, Sr., G, Ohio State
"He's long, athletic and he does things easily. He's just one of those guys who does things easily. He's so gifted and talented."

Allen Crabbe, 6-6, So., G, California
"Allen's ability to create space for his jumper makes him significantly more dangerous than a spot-up shooter. What remains to be seen is if he has added getting to the basket to his repertoire."

Aaron Craft, 6-2, So., G, Ohio State
"He's the guy you hate to play against but love to have on your team. Toughness and leadership are so hard to find today, and he has it."

Marcus Denmon, 6-3, Sr., G, Missouri
"He's a great competitor. He wills his team to victory. He's a tough player and can score in a variety ways and really shoot well from the 3-point area. He's a very good leader for his team."

Festus Ezeli, 6-11, Sr., C, Vanderbilt
"He might have the best chance at a long career of anyone in the league. He is older and a legit NBA center."

Ashton Gibbs, 6-2, Sr., G, Pittsburgh
"He's a great shooter. With Brad Wanamaker gone, he'll have the ball in his hands even more. He won't be just a receiver. He'll be much more of a playmaker. One of the most underrated players in the country."

Michael Glover, 6-7, Sr., F, Iona
"Michael Glover is a mismatch nightmare. He's too fast and quick for bigs and too strong and tough for guards. He has that air of confidence you can't teach. He has an excellent understanding of how to feed off of teammates."

Drew Gordon, 6-9, Sr., F, New Mexico
"Drew Gordon is a force in the paint. He scores and blocks shots. But his rebounding numbers are what makes him attractive to the NBA scouts, and they are off the charts."

[+] EnlargeGreen
Kim Klement/US PresswireBama just missed out on the Big Dance last season. Can JaMychal Green take the Tide there in 2012?

Draymond Green, 6-7, Sr., F, Michigan State
"He's as versatile a player as anybody in the country. He's a miniature Barkley with a good body, good skills, and knows how to play. He's a kid that loves to play with great energy."

JaMychal Green, 6-8, Sr., F, Alabama
"Green is an athletic, front-line player who likely will get more touches this year. He has always been very versatile."

Jorge Gutierrez, 6-3, Sr., G, California
"He has improved tremendously over the last two years, adding an outside game to his elusiveness. His toughness also has to be reckoned with."

Tim Hardaway Jr., 6-5, So., G, Michigan
"He's a great shooter. He has advanced his game and hit the spot-up 3-pointer and has learned to create. Really tough to deal with because he's so long."

Elias Harris, 6-7, Jr., F, Gonzaga
"Harris is an athletic, explosive player who is most dangerous doing three things: (1) sprinting the floor for dunks and layups; (2) facing up on the block and attacking; (3) hitting the offensive boards. These traits reward him with frequent trips to the line, and to top it off, he is capable of hurting you from the 3-point line if left open."

John Henson, 6-11, Jr., F, North Carolina
"He is extraordinarily long. He impacts the game in a variety of ways with his length and shot-blocking. He can impact the game in ways that most can't. If his skill has developed in the offseason and become more consistent with his perimeter shot, then that's a game-changer. His ability to alter the game in the X-factor areas makes him unique."

Tu Holloway, 6-0, Sr., G, Xavier
"Holloway combines strength and speed with an exceptional ability to penetrate and make plays for his teammates. Unlike many point guards today, he is a tremendous deep shooter, which makes him impossible to defend with one player."

Robbie Hummel, 6-8, Sr., F, Purdue
"If healthy, he's as solid as anybody. He's a winner. He can play the 3, the 4 or the 2. He's a tough matchup. It will all come down to whether or not he's healthy."

Joe Jackson, 6-1, So., G, Memphis
"He is elusive and has explosive speed. He's extremely effective in the open court. He has gotten better at running a team and creating for others."

Scoop Jardine, 6-2, Sr., G, Syracuse
"He's been inconsistent at times, but when he's at his best, Syracuse was the best team in our league. The Orange go as he goes. If he can be consistent, they can have the best team in our conference."

John Jenkins, 6-3, Jr., G, Vanderbilt
"He is the best shooter in the SEC and maybe the nation. He puts it down some, too, but is just deadly when he has a good look."

[+] EnlargeDarius Johnson-Odom
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIDarius Johnson-Odom led MU with 15.8 ppg last season.

Orlando Johnson, 6-5, Sr., G, UC Santa Barbara
"He's one of the most gifted offensive players I have ever coached against. He's extremely skilled with a killer instinct, and he makes big shots."

Darius Johnson-Odom, 6-2, Sr., G, Marquette
"He probably has the best shot fake in college basketball. With Jimmy Butler gone, expect Marquette to run all its offense through him. He will definitely get more opportunity. He's one of the best guards in the country nationally people don't know about."

Kevin Jones, 6-8, Sr., F, West Virginia
"This is a big year for Kevin Jones. West Virginia lost a lot. The Mountaineers need him to be a go-to guy. He has played with a lot of scorers. West Virginia needs him to be a consistent scorer. For them to have the season they're accustomed to having, he'll have to have a big year."

Terrence Jones, 6-8, So., F, Kentucky
"Jones is a dynamic player who does his damage in a lot of ways. The added year of experience will make him a player of the year candidate."

Perry Jones III, 6-11, So., F, Baylor
"Baylor has to feel fortunate he came back. He affects the game in a lot of ways. He can score, block shots, runs the court and he's a premier athlete."

Kris Joseph, 6-7, Sr., F, Syracuse
"He's arguably the most talented player in our league with his guard skills. He could potentially be the highest draft pick of any of the returning Big East players. He's 6-7, but he doesn't need screens. He can beat you by himself. He's a pure pro prospect."

Jeremy Lamb, 6-5, So., G, Connecticut
"I've never seen a player improve from the beginning of the season to the end of the season like Jeremy Lamb did -- really within the last two months of the season. He's a tremendous shooter and rebounder for a guard. He's another great pro prospect."

Kendall Marshall, 6-4, So., G, North Carolina
"He has the best vision and feel and passing of any lead guard in the country. Some guys can thread a needle, but he's as good as it gets in that way. He can dominate a game without taking a shot. He's sneaky in getting to the lane. He's not afraid to take a shot, and he can stick it. He has an uncanny knack that few possess with passing. His size really helps him. And he's a threat offensively, too."

Trevor Mbakwe, 6-8, Sr., F, Minnesota
"He's a warrior. He's one of the best offensive rebounders that has been in this league since I've been around. He plays hard and physical."

Ray McCallum, 6-1, So., G, Detroit
"You can already tell that Ray is a very good player. He does a lot of things well and impacts the game in a lot of ways."

Doug McDermott, 6-7, So., F, Creighton
"He has a great feel for the game. He has a knack for scoring the ball with a very soft touch."

[+] EnlargeAndrew Nicholson
Richard Mackson/US PresswireAndrew Nicholson of the Bonnies is the nation's third-leading returning scorer (20.8 ppg).

Khris Middleton, 6-7, Jr., F, Texas A&M
He's a big guard who can really shoot it but also score off the dribble. He can hurt you scoring in several different ways and does it with good shots. He's always under control. He has great court presence. I love his demeanor on the court."

Reeves Nelson, 6-8, Jr., F, UCLA
"He is a throwback power forward who can finish around the hoop with either hand. Couple that with his rebounding prowess, and you have the makings of an All-Pac-12 first-teamer."

Andrew Nicholson, 6-9, Sr., F, St. Bonaventure
"Nicholson is fast, strong and efficient as a scorer and a defensive rebounder regardless of the opponent. He is also a very underrated passer and shot-blocker. He knows how to use his body to protect the ball and has a very high basketball IQ. His long wingspan and great bounce allow him to play above the rim."

Alex Oriakhi, 6-9, Jr., C, Connecticut
"He's one of the best big men in the Big East returning. He's gotten better each year. It's hard to say this with Andre Drummond there, but he probably thought he'd get more offensive opportunity with Kemba Walker gone. But he's as good a defensive rebounder as there is in the Big East."

Thomas Robinson, 6-9, Jr., F, Kansas
"He's a pure physical specimen and can really control the paint. He can score and block shots, and he's probably the biggest physical presence in our league."

John Shurna, 6-9, Sr., F, Northwestern
"He's a self-made player. He wasn't highly touted coming out of high school but made himself into a very good offensive player. He can score around the basket. The injury set him back last year, but if he's healthy and plays as well as he did two years ago, it will really help them."

Peyton Siva, 6-0, Jr., G, Louisville
"He really needs to develop a jump shot. He's got great quickness, but he lost his confidence in his jump shot. He became too one-dimensional. If he can get his confidence in his jump shot back, he can be devastating."

Joshua Smith, 6-10, So., C, UCLA
"He is a true low-post threat with great hands and a terrific feel for the game. He will be even more effective as a full-time starter."

Jared Sullinger, 6-9, So., C, Ohio State
"He's a force inside. He's an old-school big guy who knows how to play and use his body. He's got a great touch. He was so poised and never got rattled last year and hit big shots, which is amazing as a freshman."

Jeffery Taylor, 6-7, Sr., G/F, Vanderbilt
"He benefits from being surrounded by great players. But he also suffers because he is talented enough to be a lead role player."

[+] EnlargeJordan Taylor
AP Photo/Morry GashJordan Taylor is beloved in Madison and will play a huge part in Wisconsin's Big Ten title hopes.

Jordan Taylor, 6-1, Sr., G, Wisconsin
"He's so solid. He comes every day and gets the job done. He's an excellent shooter but also has point guard skills that make him tough to match up with."

Casper Ware, 5-10, Sr., G, Long Beach State
"He's jet-quick and will beat you off the dribble. If you drop off of him, he will kill you behind the 3-point line. He's ultracompetitive and will not let his team lose."

Maalik Wayns, 6-2, Jr., G, Villanova
"It's a problem for the rest of the schools in our league that he's going to have the ball in his hands now that Corey Fisher is gone. He's probably the best point guard in our league."

Keith Wright, 6-8, Sr., F, Harvard
"He is a tremendous back-to-the-basket player. He knows when to pass and when to attack. He has great confidence in his teammates, which helps to make his team better."

Patric Young, 6-9, So., F/C, Florida
"He was as physical of a freshman as this league has seen. He is going to be in a bigger role this season."

Tyler Zeller, 7-0, Sr., F, North Carolina
"I love his skill, especially for a guy his size. He's one of the better big men in the country. He's got ability with his back to the basket, and as he physically matures going into this year, he'll gain even more strength to set him up for another level. If he gets strong enough, he'll have a long-range career professionally. He can get away with that skill in college without the strength."

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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