U of L guard Russ Smith made the Wooden Award mid-season Top 25 watch list.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Before the season University of Louisville guard Russ Smith was not picked as one of the top 15 players in the Big East in a vote of league coaches. Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan were all picked ahead of him – and they were also listed on the pre-season Top 50 watch list for the John Wooden national player of the year award.
It's time for a recount. Smith is the only U of L player to make the Mid-Season Top 25 list for Wooden Award, which was announced Thursday evening. Smith is one of five Big East players on the list.
Smith is joined by two other local players – Indiana center Cody Zeller and Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan. Two other IU players – Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo – did not make the list, although Watford was a Top 50 selection in November.
The Wooden All-American team will be announced during the week of the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament, and the winner will be announced on Final Four weekend in Atlanta.
Former Kentucky star Anthony Davis won the award as a freshman last season. No Kentucky players made the Top 25 this season. Three freshmen were recognized – Anthony Bennett of UNLV, Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State and Ben McLemore of Kansas.
Smith, Zeller, Michigan guard Trey Burke, Creighton forward Doug McDermott and Duke center Mason Plumlee are considered the top contenders to win the award.
The Top 25 list features a dozen seniors, six juniors and four sophomores.
Here is the entire list:
Anthony Bennett, UNLV, freshman forward
Laurence Bowers, Missouri, senior forward
Trey Burke, Michigan, junior guard
Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, senior guard
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse, sophomore-guard