Wooden award finalists announced
The race for the Wooden Player of the Year award is probably as wide open as it ever has been heading into the final weekend of the regular season and conference tournaments.
The Wooden Award committee released its final list of 15 players, with a few players who didn't make the midseason list but who are sure to be finalists for first-team Wooden All-American spots (announced on Katz Korner on ESPNU at 4 p.m. ET on April 1).
Indiana junior Victor Oladipo and Gonzaga junior Kelly Olynyk weren't listed on the midseason list but are both contenders for the National Player of the Year award and should be first-team All-Americans.
Oladipo is in a tight battle for Big Ten Player of the Year with Michigan sophomore guard Trey Burke and Indiana teammate, sophomore forward Cody Zeller. Burke is considered a top-three finalist for the Wooden award while Zeller probably won't finish in the top five with Oladipo and Burke canceling him out coming out of the Big Ten.
Wooden Award Candidates
The Wooden Award committee released its final 15 players on Saturday. The winner will be announced at the Final Four in Atlanta.
|Erick Green||Sr.||G||Virginia Tech|
|Shane Larkin||So.||G||Miami (FL)|
|Marcus Smart||Fr.||G||Okla. St.|
|Deshaun Thomas||Jr.||F||Ohio St.|
|Nate Wolters||Sr.||G||South Dakota St.|
|* -- Player was 2012 Wooden All-American|
Olynyk has already won the WCC player of the year award.
Creighton junior Doug McDermott, the Missouri Valley player of the year, is a leading contender to finish in the top three in the Wooden Award as well. McDermott is the only repeat Wooden Award All-American from 2012.
Georgetown sophomore Otto Porter Jr. has become a clear favorite for Big East player of the year and a likely first-team Wooden Award All-American. Porter has the potential to make a late surge to win the national player of the year award, as Oladipo and Burke could split Big Ten voting.
The other potential first-team All-Americans come out of the Big 12, where Kansas' Ben McLemore and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart will compete for the player of the year award in the conference with fellow Wooden Award top-15 finalist Jeff Withey of Kansas. The one other candidate for player of the year in the conference who was omitted from the final 15 is Kansas State's Rodney McGruder.
Smart and McLemore are the likely finalists for the national freshman of the year, along with UNLV's Anthony Bennett, who also made the Wooden Award top 15 out of the Mountain West. One omission from the Mountain West was a possible conference player of the year in New Mexico's Kendall Williams.
The ACC is well represented on the final 15 with three players, one of which will push for a spot on the Wooden Award all-American list. Miami's Shane Larkin is likely going to be the ACC player of the year for his impact on the Hurricanes. Duke's Mason Plumlee was an early-season leader but hasn't taken on as much of a role lately with the play of Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly. And Virginia Tech's Erick Green has been a consistent scorer but is unlikely to win the award since he is playing on a losing team.
The final two spots on the list went to Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas and South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters. Thomas and Wolters have been instrumental in their teams' chances of an NCAA berth or, in the case of the Buckeyes, a number of key conference wins.
The Wooden Player of the Year will be announced at the Final Four in Atlanta.
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