Nov. 12, 2013
LOS ANGELES - Fresh off the second triple-double college career Monday night against Yale, UConn senior Shabazz Napier (Roxbury, Mass.) was named to the Preseason Top 50 for the John R. Wooden Award, announced Tuesday by The Los Angeles Athletic Club. 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 the sport's most prestigious honor.
It is the fourth such watch list for Napier, who is also in the running for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award, the Senior CLASS Award, and the Oscar Robertson Trophy. The Huskies' co-captain led the team in scoring, assists, and three-point shooting and was second in rebounding last season, and after two games this year, he tops UConn in virtually every offensive category and is averaging 16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game, while shooting 52.6 percent overall. Against Yale on Monday, he had 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He is the only player in UConn history to record two triple-doubles.
AP preseason No. 1 Kentucky had the most players chosen to the list, four (sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein, and three freshmen: Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, and James Young). Duke, Kansas, and Michigan State, all top 5 teams in the preseason, boast three Top 50 players apiece. Schools with two players selected include defending NCAA Champion Louisville, Baylor, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio State, Tennessee and UCLA.
In terms of conferences, it promises to be an interesting year in the Big 10, with a chart-topping 10 players chosen to the preseason list from six different schools. The ACC had eight selections from six schools, followed by the Big 12 (3 schools), Pac-12 (5 schools) and SEC (2 schools) with six selections each. The brand new American Athletic Conference had five selections (4 schools), followed by the Big East, West Coast and Mountain West with two each; and the Atlantic 10, Missouri Valley, and Sun Belt each with one.
The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the midseason list and the official voting ballot, which will consist 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, consisting of the nation's top 10 players, will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round of the NCAA Tournament.
The 38th annual Wooden Award ceremony will honor the Men's and Women's Wooden Award winners, and will include the presentation of the Wooden Award All American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, which in 2013 will go to Stanford Head Women's Basketball Coach Tara VanDerveer. The event will take place the weekend of April 11-12, 2014.
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), Candace Parker ('07 and '08), Kevin Durant ('09) and Maya Moore of Connecticut ('09 and `11). Michigan's Trey Burke won the 2013 Wooden Award presented by Wendy's.