Only two players outside "basketball" or power-five conferences made the Midseason Wooden Award Top-25, announced Wednesday. The committee's decision to favor certain conferences continues a trend of diminishing certain players based solely by where they play rather than how they play.
How else can you explain South Dakota State's Mike Daum being left off the list. Daum was an honorable mention All-American last year. His 23 points per game this year ranks 10th in the nation, while also averaging 8.8 rebounds per game. According to sports-reference.com, Daum currently ranks fourth in the nation in win shares, an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player due to his offense and defense.
His player efficiency rating — which many consider a true statistic in analyzing the best players in their respective sport — ranks 12th. The Jackrabbits gave Wichita State all it could handle on the road and beat Ole Miss. Daum also had 37 points in a double-overtime loss to Colorado.
Brandon McCoy was the lone representative from the Mountain West, but he might not even be the best player in the conference. Both Boise State's Chandler Hutchison and Nevada's Caleb Martin have led their respective schools to the top of the conference.
Hutchison is averaging 18.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game. His 6-7 frame with 7-1 wingspan creates problems for most. So far this year, he's put up 19 points, 18 rebounds and 5 assists against Illinois State, 20 points and 10 rebounds at Oregon and 32 points and 12 rebounds in a head-to-head match up with McCoy and UNLV.
Nevada's Martin leads the Mountain West averaging 19.2 points per game and ranks second shooting 48.1 percent from beyond the arc. In Nevada's toughest games, Martin has shown up. Against Rhode Island he scored 24 in a win, 28 in an overtime loss to number eight Texas Tech and 17 in a loss to 16th-ranked TCU.
It can't be easy to needle through the 347 different Division 1 programs and the 4,511 players in college basketball. If you're going to present an award that is supposed to reflect the nation's best, however, then leaving out the majority of the college basketball field is doing a disservice to the hundreds of different programs who have legitimate players who end up on NBA rosters next to those players who went to traditional powerhouses. While the committee can and does discard many players based on where they play and who they play, it shouldn't outright reject the majority of college basketball.
While players like UCLA's Aaron Holiday, Creighton's Marcus Foster, Georgia's Yante Mateen and Duke's Grayson Allen have had good years, their numbers and impact to their respective programs pale in comparison to many of the lesser-known names playing in modestly-known gyms and smaller fanfare.
William & Mary's Nathan Fisher is one of only four players as of last week to have at least 30 assists and 30 blocks. The Tribe are off to their best start ever. In the Atlantic 10, St. Bonaventure's Jaylen Adams averages almost 19 a game, along with 6 assists, and hits 53% from beyond the arch. At Texas-Arlington Kevin Hervey is averaging 21.2 points and 8.7 points per game. Middle Tennessee's Nick King has spent time at both Memphis and Alabama, but is now having his best year, averaging almost 23 and eight as the Blue Raiders look to make an extended run into the NCAA Tournament.
Oddly enough, the Wooden Award isn't the only college basketball prize named after a famed Pac-12 coach given to the nation's top Division 1 player. On Friday, the Lute Olson Award announced its mid-season watch list. Daum and Martin made the cut.
Not all lists are created equally.
|Marvin Bagley III||Duke||Fr.||Forward|
|Joel Berry||North Carolina||Sr.||Guard|
|Miles Bridges||Michigan State||Soph.||G/F|
|Jevon Carter||West Virginia||Sr.||Guard|
|Bonzie Colson||Notre Dame||Sr.||Forward|
|Angel Delgado||Seton Hall||Sr.||Center|
|Tra Holder||Arizona State||Sr.||Guard|
|Jock Landale||St. Mary's||Sr.||Center|
|Luke Maye||North Carolina||Jr.||Forward|
|Landry Shamet||Wichita State||Soph.||Guard|