LOS ANGELES, CA (November 15, 2016) – The John R. Wooden Award® presented by Wendy’s® announced its Preseason Top 50 today on ESPN’s SportsCenter and on ESPN.com. Chosen by a preseason poll of national college basketball experts, the list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who are the early front-runners for college basketball’s most prestigious individual honor.
Returning from last year’s Wooden Award All-American Team, Duke’s Grayson Allen headlines this year’s Wooden Award Preseason Top 50. The list also highlights stars from the 2016 NCAA Tournament: Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins of NCAA National Champion Villanova; Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson of NCAA Runner-Up North Carolina; California’s Ivan Rabb; Indiana’s James Blackmon, Jr. and Thomas Bryant; Iowa’s Peter Jok; Iowa State’s Monte Morris; Kansas’ Devonte’ Graham, Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson; Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox; Maryland’s Melo Trimble; Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem; Oregon’s Chris Boucher, Dillon Brooks, and Tyler Dorsey; Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, Syracuse’s Tyler Lydon; Virginia’s Austin Nichols and London Perrantes; Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig, Ethan Happ, and Nigel Hayes; and Xavier’s Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett.
Several universities boast multiple players on the list: Duke (Allen, Harry Giles, and Jayson Tatum), Kansas (Graham, Mason III, and Josh Jackson), Kentucky (Edrice Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, and Malik Monk) and Oregon (Boucher, Brooks, and Dorsey) lead the honors with three candidates apiece, while Indiana, North Carolina, Villanova, Virginia, and Xavier each have two players each on the Preseason Top 50.
The trend of recognizing outstanding freshmen continues with seven named to the list: Adebayo, Fox, and Monk of Kentucky; Jarrett Allen of Texas; Miles Bridges of Michigan State; Markelle Fultz of Washington; Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum of Duke; Josh Jackson of Kansas; Lauri Markkanen of Arizona; Dennis Smith, Jr. of NC State.
The Top 50 nominees represent 10 conferences. The ACC leads all conferences with 12 selections, followed by the Big Ten (10), Pac-12 (7), Big 12 (6), Big East (5), SEC (5). The Atlantic 10 Conference has two selections and the Horizon League, The American and WCC each have one selection.
The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2017 John R. Wooden Award All-America Team presented by Wendy’s. Players not chosen to the preseason list are eligible for the Wooden Award midseason list, late season list and the National Ballot. The National Ballot consists of 15 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. Nearly 1,000 voters will rank in order 10 of those 15 players, who have been qualified as meeting the standards set forth by Coach Wooden and the Wooden Award Steering Committee. Voting will open prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament and will allow voters to take into consideration performance during early round games. The Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the 2017 John R. Wooden Award will be announced during the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show presented by Wendy’s on Friday, April 7, 2017.