The Wooden Award is the most prestigious award in college basketball and yearly crowns the best player in the land. The college basketball season is just a few weeks young, but there has been some separation in who will contend for the Wooden Award.
Wooden Award Rankings
5 – Obi Toppin, Dayton Flyers
Dayton is currently playing great basketball. Without question, they are leaning very heavily on Obi Toppin. Toppin is averaging an astounding 24.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 72.5 percent from the field. Most recently, he is coming off a dominating performance at the Maui Invitational.
Obi Toppin is quickly becoming one of the best players in the nation. As you are reading this, his draft stock is rising. The sophomore forward is coming off the Rookie of the Year award in the A-10 and seems to have gotten infinitely better.
Toppin can score from all levels. He has a great ability to handle the ball for a big and has a wealth of moves in the post. He is a true matchup nightmare and is the fuel that makes this Dayton team go. Dayton has a legit chance to win a game in March and it is all because of Toppin.
4 – Payton Pritchard, Oregon Ducks
Oregon is currently ranked 11th in the nation and have some great wins entering the Battle 4 Atlantis. Oregon rose some eyebrows last year as they sprinted into the NCAA Tournament and then won a couple of games and caused a lot of problems for higher seeds.
Payton Pritchard is one of the most underrated players in the nation. The success of Oregon comes with the success of Pritchard. As is usually the case, upperclassmen point guards play a significant role in the college basketball season and Pritchard is another one of those.
Pritchard is currently averaging 19.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. Those are massive numbers in the college game, especially considering Oregon has played some high major competition already. His ability to shoot from distance and get into the lane at will makes him very difficult to guard. Typically, when Pritchard plays well, Oregon is difficult to beat.
3 – Jordan Nwora, Louisville Cardinals
Louisville is preparing for its best season in a decade and has been absolutely balling to start the year. They are every bit the national contender that their number two ranking would suggest.
Jordan Nwora is, without a doubt, a top-five player in the nation. He is an all-around scorer and a true matchup nightmare. When Louisville needs a bucket, they throw the ball to Nwora and let him find a way to score.
Last year, Nwora was a really good basketball player but lacked a bit of consistency. This year, that has changed. Nwora is consistently dominating, scoring 21.3 points and 7.2 rebounds on 50 percent shooting and 51.2 percent from three in just 28 minutes of game action. He will only get better as the season goes on. One thing to look for is how Nwora handles the double teams that are sure to come as the ACC season begins. His assist numbers should start to climb in that scenario.
2 – Cole Anthony, North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina has one of the most polarizing players in college basketball. Cole Anthony has been as good as advertised thus far. Luckily for North Carolina, he is a Tar Heel. North Carolina will only go as far as Anthony can take them.
Anthony is averaging 22.8 points, 8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists. The points really stand out when Anthony plays because he is so shifty and can get his shot at any time. However, Cole Anthony is the best rebounding guard in college and it is not close. He is ridiculously athletic and always finds himself around the ball. His shooting percentage is lower than he would like, coming in at 38 percent, but that is mainly due to him taking extremely difficult shots and the lack of a supporting cast.
1 – Myles Powell, Seton Hall Pirates
If the season ended today, Myles Powell would be your Wooden Award winner and there would be no arguments. Every year that Powell has spent at Seton Hall, he has improved and become more of a household name. He is known for his clutch heroics in massive games. Typically, if Seton Hall is playing a ranked opponent, Powell will find a way to get close to 30 points that night.
Powell is currently averaging 22.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. Most notably, he is shooting 41.9 percent from three this season. Powell is in the conversation for the best scorer in college basketball. He also is a tough defender and brings a lot of intensity nightly, which makes his scoring numbers all the more impressive.
Powell has Seton Hall ranked highly for the first time in a while. He is carrying a team that could easily be undefeated right now and will make a lot of noise in March. Nobody wants to play Seton Hall and the main reason is Myles Powell. He will absolutely be a finalist for the Wooden Award, barring injury.
There are a few notable omissions from this list. Markus Howard is one of the best players in the nation and easily could make this list. Currently, he sits sixth. He is scoring well again, but his numbers are just slightly below where they could be. The drubbing Marquette took from Wisconsin hurts his case.
Tres Tinkle, a forward from Oregon State, is one of the great players that are relatively unknown. He is playing extremely well and fills up box sheets nightly.
Finally, the big omission. Cassius Winston was nearly a consensus pick to win the Wooden Award. Unfortunately, he has gotten off to a very slow start and is shooting poorly. The result is a 3-2 start for Michigan State. He is still averaging 15.4 points and 6 assists, but he is shooting below 40 percent and turning it over more than usual. He will turn it around undoubtedly, but he does not deserve to be top five in the Wooden watch, yet.
Wooden Award Update
Remember, it is very early in the season and these games and results are to be taken with a grain of salt. However, it is always interesting to track the play of the best basketball players in the country.
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