Junior Kris Joseph and sophomore Brandon Triche have each earned a spot on the The John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list announced today by The Los Angeles Athletic Club. The list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who, based on last year's individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for college basketball's most prestigious honor.
Returning players from past Wooden Award ballots include four seniors: Duke's Kyle Singler (2009, 2010), Robbie Hummel of Purdue (2008, 2010), Kalin Lucas of Michigan State (2009, 2010) and BYU's Jimmer Fredette (2010). Singler was the MVP of the 2010 Final Four, leading the Blue Devils to the NCAA title in averaging 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds his junior season. Hummel was a 2008 and 2010 All-Big 10 selection, and also a two-time Academic All-Big 10 pick who averaged 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds in 2010. Lucas is considered among the nation's top point guards after leading the Spartans in scoring (14.8 ppg) and assists (4.0 ast) during their Final Four campaign a year ago. Fredette was his team's top scorer (22.1 ppg) and playmaker (4.7 ast) and was an All-MWC player as a junior.
Transfers, freshmen and medical redshirts are not eligible for the preseason list. These players and others who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for December's Midseason list and the official voting ballot released in March. The National Ballot consists of approximately 20 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round during the NCAA Tournament.
Purdue (Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore) was the only school with three players named to the Wooden Award preseason Top 50. Five schools had two players chosen to the list: Colorado (Alec Burks, Cory Higgins); Duke (Singler, Nolan Smith); Gonzaga (Steven Gray, Elias Harris); Michigan State (Lucas, Durrell Summers); Syracuse (Kris Joseph, Brandon Triche).
Eleven conferences are represented on the Wooden Award Preseason List. Leading the way is the Big 10 (10), followed by the ACC (8), Big East (7), SEC (3), Big 12 (7), Pac-10 (6), Atlantic 10 (3), Mountain West (2), West Coast (2); and Conference USA, and the Horizon League with one apiece.
The 35th annual Wooden Award ceremony, which will include the announcement of the Men's and Women's Wooden Award winners, a special tribute to Coach Wooden and Wooden Award founder Duke Llewellyn, and the presentation of the Wooden Award All American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, will take place the weekend of April 8-10, 2011.
About the John R. Wooden Award
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation's best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird ('79), Michael Jordan ('84), Tim Duncan ('97), Blake Griffin ('09) and Maya Moore of Connecticut ('09). Ohio State's Evan Turner and Connecticut's Tina Charles won the Award in 2010.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities' general scholarship fund in the names of the All American recipients. The Award has also sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the Award's name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club on the Friday prior to the John R. Wooden Award Ceremony.