Cody Zeller, Peyton Siva, Nerlens Noel top the first WDRB all-Kentuckiana team.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The latest sign that this figures to be an extraordinary college basketball season in Kentuckiana arrived in the mailbox this week:
Peyton Siva, Louisville's senior point guard, and Cody Zeller, a sophomore center at Indiana, earned the Sports Illustrated cover in the magazine's college basketball preview edition.
Today both players can add a more prestigious honor: They are the headliners on the first WDRB All-Kentuckiana team.
Our sports staff polled 41 media members from the area and nation. The assignment was simple:
Pick a 5-player team, using only players from Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana. (Sorry, Murray State fans. If we would have broadened the search to both states, I'm certain that Racers' point guard Isaiah Canaan would have been honored. Several voters tried to pick Canaan even after being advised of the guidelines.)
Zeller (41 of 41) and Siva (40) were easily the two top selections. Both guys were also named to the 50-player pre-season watch list for the Wooden Award.
Zeller made more than 62 percent of his shots while averaging 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds as a freshman. Siva averaged 9.1 points and 5.6 assists. He was voted the Most Outstanding Player at the Big East Tournament.
Nerlens Noel, John Calipari's freshman center, was the third choice, earning 28 votes, two more than Christian Watford, Indiana's senior forward. Watford also made the Wooden list. Noel is not on the list because freshmen and transfers are not eligible for pre-season consideration.
"I know (Noel) hasn't played a minute of college basketball," wrote Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "I'm betting on the come, like a first-time starter."
The fifth spot was taken by Gorgui Dieng of Louisville. He was named by 19 voters – and also made the Wooden Award list.
Two other UK freshmen earned strong consideration – Alex Poythress (15) and Archie Goodwin (11). Louisville forward Chane Behanan got a dozen votes, even though he was suspended and missed both of the Cardinals' exhibition games. Behanan was also named to the Wooden watch list, making U of L the only team with three players represented.
"The first four (Zeller, Siva, Noel, Watford) were pretty easy for me," said Al Featherston of SB Nation in North Carolina. "I didn't wrestle with any of them. The last one could be Goodwin or Poythress or (UK forward Kyle Wiltjer)."
Here is a list of other players who earned votes:
Wayne Blackshear, Louisville (4); Victor Oladipo, Indiana (3); Yogi Ferrell, IU (2); Wiltjer, Kentucky (2); Luke Hancock, U of L (1); Jordan Hulls, IU (1).
Here is a the list of media members who participated in the voting:
John Akers, Basketball Times; Steve Andress, WDRB; Alex Bozich, Inside The Hall; Rick Bozich, WDRB; Kevin Brockway, Gainesville (Fla.) Sun; Frank Burlison, SI.com; Steve Carp, Las Vegas Review-Journal; John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader; Bill Cole, Winston-Salem Journal; Eric Crawford, WDRB; Ken Davis, Fox Sports; Brett Dawson, Cats Illustrated; Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon Yearbook;
Mike DeCourcy, The Sporting News; Jody Demling, Cardinal Authority; Pete DiPrimio, Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel; Pat Doney, WDRB; Al Featherston, SB Nation North Carolina; John Feinstein, CBS Sports Radio; Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports.com; Lew Freedman, Columbus (Ind.) Republic; Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com; Herb Gould, Chicago Sun-Times;
Ron Green Jr. Charlotte Observer; Vahe Gregorian, St. Louis Post-Dispatch; Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; Dick Jerardi, Philadelphia Daily News; Todd Jones, Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch; Tom Kensler, Denver Post; Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star; Tom Lane, WDRB; Mitchell Light; Athlon Sports; Mike Lopresti, USA Today;
Matt May, The Cats' Pause; Kevin McNamara, Providence (R.I.) Journal; Jim O'Connell, Associated Press; Dana O'Neil, ESPN.com; Brendan Quinn, Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel; Lenox Rawlings, Winston-Salem Journal; Lenn Robbins, New York Post; Mike Waters, Syracuse.com.