The Los Angeles Athletic Club has announced its John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s, Midseason Top 25 today on ESPNU and ESPN.com. Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts, the list is comprised of 25 student-athletes who are the frontrunners for the sport’s most prestigious individual honor, based on their performances during the first half of the 2015-2016 season.
The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2016 John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s. The leading candidates will be further pared to 20 top players in early February. Fifteen 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 will be submitted to the voters on the ballot prior to the NCAA Tournament. Every year, players have made the ballots that are not on the preseason or midseason lists. Voters are permitted to take into consideration the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament when casting the ballot. The ten-man Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament.
On the 2016 Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list, five players not on the Preseason Top 50 were named to the Midseason Top 25: Ryan Anderson of Arizona, Kay Felder of Oakland, Damion Lee of Louisville, Wayne Selden, Jr. of Kansas, and Jarrod Uthoff of Iowa. The list includes colleges who have two players chosen: Gonzaga (Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer), Kansas (Perry Ellis and Selden, Jr.), Kentucky (Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis), and North Carolina (Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige). Two freshmen were named to the Midseason Top 25 list: Ben Simmons of LSU and Jamal Murray of Kentucky.
In terms of conferences, the ACC leads the way with five selections, followed by the Big 12 and Big Ten with four; the Pac-12 and SEC with three; The American and the WCC with two; and the Big East and Horizon with one selection each.
The 40th annual presentation of the John R. Wooden Award will be the anchor presentation of the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show presented by Wendy’s. The men’s and women’s Wooden All-American Teams will be honored during the ceremony, as well as the 2016 Legends of Coaching Award, which will be presented to Tubby Smith, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Texas Tech. The event will take place the weekend of April 7-9, 2016.
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award program features the most prestigious individual honors in college basketball. The Wooden Award Trophy 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 while maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. The unique Wooden Award trophy is presented to a man and woman each year. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (‘79), Michael Jordan (‘84), Tim Duncan (‘97), Candace Parker (‘07 and ‘08), Kevin Durant (‘09), Maya Moore (‘09 and ‘11), Trey Burke (‘13) and Doug McDermott (‘14). Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky won the 2015 Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s and Breanna Stewart of Connecticut won the 2015 Wooden Award.
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to the general scholarship fund of the honoree’s University in the name of the All-American recipient. The Award has also enabled more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long basketball camps in the Award’s name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with the Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament takes place at the Los Angeles Athletic Club the weekend of the John R. Wooden Award presentation, and brings together Special Olympics athletes and the Wooden Award All-Americans.
Fans can follow the candidates en route to the Wooden Award presentation and get the latest news throughout the season by liking the Wooden Award Facebook page or following @WoodenAward on Twitter and Instagram.