Saturday, November 04, 2006

50 John R. Wooden Candidates, ARE YOU KIDDING ME???

The John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball, blah, blah, blah. If it’s so prestigious, then why do they select, or in better terms provide the goodwill of announcing an astounding 50 potential candidates?! In all honesty, when the selection committee announced the 50 candidates on October 25, what they were simply doing was boosting the confidence of a few players who fall under the national radar while at the same time embarrassing themselves by placing such players onto the same stage as a Tyler Hansbrough, Joakim Noah and Josh McRoberts. You’re telling me that in addition to the three athletes I previously mentioned that Caleb Green (huh?), Courtney Lee (what?) and Rodney Stuckey (wait...but…) might deserve the same recognition given to former award winner’s Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84) and Tim Duncan (’97)? I quote myself while playing NCAA College Football (pick a year) on Playstation when the computer flawlessly drives down the field leaving me absolutely helpless, “Yeah, I Forgot.”

Since it’s creation in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is bestowed upon the nation’s best player…hmmm, let me see here, the key words being Nation’s, Best and Player. Yup, in my mind I seriously think Loren Stokes of Hofstra University fits the bill – “Yeah, I Forgot.” What the Preseason National Selection Committee should do, in the words of Little John, is “keep it real” and focus on the top 10 candidates who have a realistic chance of winning the award. Now, all jokes and running sarcasm aside, I can’t agree more that the playing field in men’s college basketball has leveled out and created a parity of sorts with the rise of recent mid-major play; no one more than I enjoys seeing the likes of a George Mason rip-roar through Michigan State, North Carolina and UConn to play on the worlds greatest of stages. It’s a salute to the coaching and the massive hearts of the players, but unfortunately anyone would be crazy to think that the National Player of the Year will come from Southwest Wichita Southern at Missouri Pinebluff (my apologies to the historically all-black college that I just offended, I’m sure your fielding a great team in 07)!!!

In January 2007, the list of 50 will be trimmed to 30 followed by a national ballot in early March. On Tuesday, March 27, 2007, a 10-player Wooden Award All-American team will be announced and here is where I think the focus should be. Focus on those top 10 players in all of America based upon last year’s performance and individual team records – which is another rule I think is garbage considering a player such as Texas all-everything freshman, Kevin Durant, may be the next coming of the original Big Ticket – who have the chance to stand at the podium at the downtown Los Angeles Athletic Club (as opposed to the uptown location) on April 7, 2007. Now, without further ado, I present Duece’s Top 10 Preseason John R. Wooden Award Candidates in no particular order (and some fodder of the additional 40 candidates mentioned in the original list):

Corey Brewer – A dynamic 6-7 wing who serves as Florida’s Jack of all Trades, master of none (~ 13pts/5reb/3ast/2stl). Brewer has a motor that keeps going and is able to change the momentum of the game with his defensive. It certainly helps that two other Wooden candidates are teammates of Brewer.

Glen Davis – Big Baby did the smart thing by remaining an amateur for one more year to improve upon his overall game, not to mention working on putting down that extra cheeseburger or two! Davis bulldozed the Southeastern Conference (~ 18pts/10reb) and helped the Tigers upend Duke and Texas to get the Final Four. With the loss of several key cogs from last year’s team, defenses may collapse on Big Baby if his supporting cast cannot pick up the slack.

Nick Fazekas – Runs like Big Bird and jumps like Jarrod pre-Subway diet, but the two-time WAC player of the year can certainly fill it up (~ 22pts/10reb). He’s the only mid-major in quite some time to make the preseason Wooden list two years in a row and it will take a special effort from “Zeke” in 06-07 to make it to the podium.

Tyler Hansbrough – Psycho “T”, almost enough said. 19pts and 8reb’s a game…as a freshman! If this man-child can simply duplicate his efforts from 05-06 (26 and 8 vs. BC, 40 and10 vs. Ga. Tech, 27 and 10 at Duke against first round pick Sheldon Williams) while leading UNC far into the tournament, voting for the Wooden trophy will be just a formality.

Al Horford – The “other” big man who makes up one of the best frontcourts in the nation at Florida is at times lingering in Joakim Noah’s shadow. This baby-faced giant quietly averaged ~ 11pts and 8 reb a game for one of the more unselfish, high-profiled teams in the country. This year Horford will look to contribute more offensively while defenses focus his frontcourt counterpart.

Josh McRoberts – Despite playing third fiddle to J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, McRoberts was considered a lock by many to forego his remaining eligibility and submit his name into the 2006 NBA Draft, but luckily for all true college basketball fans, he decided to stay. This year will hopefully be the year for McRoberts to showcase the talents that we were put on hold. He will have the gigantic burden of leading a very young Blue Devil team into treacherous waters; if he can somehow come close to averaging a high double-double and the Sweet 16, lookout!

Joakim Noah – The face of Gator basketball reminds me of a poor mans Sandra Bernhardt when it comes to looks; thank God that his looks don’t translate into his game-play! His best asset is his endless high energy, and not to quote Hubie Brown on draft night, but he also has great athleticism and length. He was consistent throughout 2006 but his true coming out party was in the big dance where he was able to showcase his talents against the best of the best. He’ll look to improve upon his ~13pts and 7rebs a game while leading the Gators to back to back titles.

Brandon Rush – The third Rush brother to hit the scene, Brandon appears to have the most promise of them all. The Big 12 freshman of the year averaged a team leading ~14pts and almost 6rebs a game, but unfortunately he returns with a bad taste in his mouth having barely showed up in the first round tournament loss to Bradley. The promising Jayhawks return all five starters and key bench players, and will look to Brandon to lead by example on the court.

Al Thornton – “Big Al” is just that in the biggest of games. Despite posting averages of ~ 16pts and 7rebs, Big Al was at his best against the biggest and best teams (37/ and 6 vs. BC, 21 and12 vs. Va. Tech., 37 and 15 and 26 and 6 vs. Duke, and 27 and 12 vs. Maryland). This senior all everything swingman could be the key to leading the Seminoles back to the NCAA tournament after getting snubbed by the selection committee last year.

Julian Wright – Is he a power forward, is he a small forward, is he a point forward...who knows? His situation was similar to that of Josh McRoberts where as a freshman he was not the teams first, second or even third option, yet he was almost able to post a double-double without having any plays called in his name. He has great perimeter skills and Bill Self’s plan was to play Wright on the wing this year, but with the recent dismissal of center C.J. Giles and the injury to Sasha Kaun, Wright will be called upon to pick up the slack in the frontcourt.

The others on the preseason Wooden award candidate list with ZERO chance:

Aaron Afflalo – Not even the best player on his team
De’Angelo Alexander – Um, no
Morris Almond – Potential first team All-American but plays for the Rice Owls
Jon Brockman – In the Eric Montross mold and I don’t believe Montross won this award
Jamar Butler – Once Greg Odom’s wrist heals, Butler will be second, third or fourth fiddle.
Coleman Collins – Great competitor who plays with passion, but not a sexy pick
JamesOn Curry – This former drugs salesman has cleaned up his life, but struggled his sophomore year; don’t expect a big turnaround in 07
Jermareo Davidson – Best player on the Tide goes to Richard Steele
Jared Dudley – Still not sure how he does it year after year
Aaron Gray – Big stiff, a better version of Chris Burgess
Jeff Green – Will share the stage with Roy Hibbert
Roy Hibbert – Will share the stage with Jeff Green
Caleb Green – Do you really want to give an award to a guy who attends a school beginning with the word “Oral?”
Malik Hairston – Underachiever on an underachieving team
Adam Haluska – Wait, isn’t this guy white?
Lamont Hamilton – He attends St. Johns, enough said
Brandon Heath – Not enough publicity
Jarrius Jackson – Ahhh, haaa…you just got suspended!!!
Dominic James – Possibly the second best point guard in the country, but not quite there yet
Joseph Jones – New a kid named Joe Jones in undergrad
Acie Law – I fought the law and law did not win
Courtney Lee – Stop, please…my side hurts from laughing
Chris Lofton – Excellent shooter, but close to being one-dimensional
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute – Moute kicks booty, but this award will have to wait a year!
Sammy Mejia – The pride of the Pride, but come on, it’s the pride
David Padgett – Returning from major knee surgery and may not return to his old form, which wasn’t that great to begin with
Brian Randle – (Cricket noise)
Richard Roby – One dimensional shooting guard with little or chance to ever win the award
Blake Schlib – First of all, you’re name is Blake, second…well,
Mustafa Shakur – “You’re going to ask yourself, is today the day…is today Jimmy Shaker day?”
Sean Singletary – Does dysentary rhyme with singletary?
Jason Smith – Tall goofy white guy, forget it
Ronald Steele – Best point guard in the nation, but not a sexy enough choice
Loren Stokes – see Sammy Mejia
Rodney Stuckey (E. Washington)
Kammron Taylor – This Chris Rock look-alike is a nice roll player to Alondo Tucker
Alondo Tucker – Honorable mention for the top 10 list, if this were a top 11 list, he’d certainly make the cut
Rayshawn Terry – Not even the second or third best player on an extremely deep UNC team
Ayinde Ubaka – god bless you!
Marcus Williams – Excellent wing player with a bright future, but is probably one year away from being a serious award candidate

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