Zach Edey, Dalton Knecht headline Wooden Award finalist field

Zach Edey, Dalton Knecht headline Wooden Award finalist field

Reigning Wooden Award winner Zach Edey and Tennessee star Dalton Knecht were among the 15 finalists named to the men’s national ballot Saturday morning, as revealed on ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

Edey, Purdue‘s 7-foot-4 center, heads into the final weekend of the regular season as the front-runner to win the Wooden Award, given annually to the best college basketball player in the country. He is aiming to be the first repeat winner since Virginia‘s Ralph Sampson in 1982 and 1983.

After averaging 22.3 points and 12.9 rebounds last season to run away with the award, Edey has been arguably more dominant this campaign. He is averaging 24.1 points (second in the country) and 11.7 rebounds (third) while blocking 2.2 shots and shooting 62.3% from the field.

He led Purdue to its second consecutive outright Big Ten regular-season championship, going for 28 points and eight rebounds in Tuesday’s title-clinching win at Illinois.

Tennessee’s Knecht, the former junior college and Northern Colorado transfer, is likely in second position entering the postseason. He has an impressive collection of single-game performances, including 39 points against both Auburn and Florida, 37 points against North Carolina and 36 points against Georgia. Knecht is averaging 20.7 points on the season, but he has been even better in conference play, putting up 24.6 points and shooting 42.7% from 3-point range in 17 games against SEC opponents.

Other leading candidates include North Carolina’s RJ Davis, who ranks ninth nationally in points per game (21.5) and scored 42 in a win over Miami last week; Houston‘s Jamal Shead, arguably the best defender in the country and the leader of the top-ranked Cougars; Marquette‘s Tyler Kolek, the nation’s assist leader; and Arizona guard Caleb Love, who is having the most productive and efficient of his career after transferring from North Carolina.

Two players on the national ballot weren’t on the Late Season Top 20 list: Shead and Alabama‘s Mark Sears. Sears has been on a tear to end the season, scoring at least 20 points in 12 of his last 13 games, including 33 this week against Florida. He is averaging 21.1 points and shooting 44.2% from 3.

The men’s Wooden Award has been given out every year since 1977, starting with UCLA‘s Marques Johnson.

Complete national ballot for the 2024 John R. Wooden Award:

Johni Broome, Auburn
RJ Davis, North Carolina
Hunter Dickinson, Kansas
Zach Edey, Purdue
Kyle Filipowski, Duke
DaRon Holmes II, Dayton
Dalton Knecht, Tennessee
Tyler Kolek, Marquette
Jaedon LeDee, San Diego State
Caleb Love, Arizona
Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas
Tristen Newton, UConn
Antonio Reeves, Kentucky
Mark Sears, Alabama
Jamal Shead, Houston

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