With the regular season coming to a close it’s time to look at who are the leading candidates for the Wooden Award. Championship Week is underway and a couple of tickets will be punched later on tonight. All of the players listed will be looking to lead their teams to conference championships to have a shot to cut down the nets in April in Houston.
Kay Felder, Oakland Grizzlies
The junior guard from Detroit is having a magical season for Oakland.Felder led his team to a 21-10 record with a 13-5 record in conference play. He’s fifth in the nation in points per game with 24.4 and first in assists with 9.4, and he hasn’t been doing it against scrubs. Against Michigan State Felder dropped 37 and had nine assists before fouling out. He also went for 30 or more against Washington and Virginia. For a 5-9 guard, Felder pulls in his share of rebounds with 4.2. The Isaiah Thomas comparison is also a menace on the defensive end and shows quick hands to the tune of two steals per game. Although he isn’t a sharpshooter, his 36% accuracy from three is pretty respectable. To reach the tournament, Felder will have to throw his team on his back to lead them to a Horizon League Championship.
Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia Cavaliers
The senior guard is the best player on a potential number one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Brogdon is one of the best defenders in college basketball but has improved his scoring every year at Virginia. This season, he’s averaging 18.4 points and has improved his scoring touch from deep, shooting 41% from downtown and 87% from the free throw line. He’s shined against the ACC elites like North Carolina, Miami and Louisville. Brogdon led his group of seniors to a 24-6 record and a second place finish in the ACC. If Virginia can run the table through the ACC Tournament, they be able to lock up a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Brice Johnson, North Carolina Tarheels
After a couple of frustrating and inconsistent years at UNC, Brice Johnson has broken out this year. He’s averaging a double-double with 16.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. He’s dominated night in and night out and had one of the best individual performances of anyone with a 39 point, 23 rebound showing against Florida State. Johnson has 19 double-double’s on the year and most recently went off for 18 and 21 against Duke at Cameron Indoor. Johnson led UNC to a 25-6 record and an ACC regular season conference championship and a number one seed in the ACC Tournament. UNC is likely to be a number one seed but for UNC to get over the hump, they’ll need to continue riding their horse that is Brice Johnson
Denzel Valentine, Michigan State Spartans
Had it not been for a knee injury that knocked Denzel Valentine out for a few games, he might be the frontrunner for the Wooden Award. He fills the stat sheet like no other in college ball. Valentine averages 19.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game in the best conference in college basketball. Valentine has scored in double figures in every game besides one while being a floor general and senior leader for the Spartans. His best performance came against Kansas, which featured one of his two triple-doubles, where he scored 29 and had 12 rebounds and dished out 12 assists in 38 minutes. He leads arguably the top team in the nation and the team most likely to bring home a national championship.
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma Sooners
The best player in America averages 25.1 points for an explosive Oklahoma roster. Buddy Hield shoots 47% from deep and 89% from the charity stripe. Hield is a certified lock for First Team All-American and Big 10 Player of the Year for the second ear in a row. He decided to come back for his senior year to try and win a national championship with his Sooners and has drastically improved his draft stock in the process. He’s improved every year in Norman to become one of the best scorers and snipers in the nation. He’s the leader to win the Wooden Award and could bring a title to Oklahoma come April.
Cover Photo via CampusInsiders