BOZICH: Nation's Top 50 Players: 50-41 Includes Hancock, Ferrell - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH: Nation's Top 50 Players: 50-41 Includes Hancock, Ferrell

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Luke Hancock starts his senior season on Rick Bozich's Wooden Award ballot as one of the top 50 players in the country. Luke Hancock starts his senior season on Rick Bozich's Wooden Award ballot as one of the top 50 players in the country.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The 2014 Wooden Award will be presented to the best player in college basketball next April. The process of picking the guy who follows former Michigan guard Trey Burke as the Wooden Award winner begins today.

So I've made my list on nominees – and changed it and checked it and changed it.

Now, I'm ready to roll. I'll release all 50 names on my ballot, starting with players 41-50 today. The final 40 names will be posted here over the next week to 10 days.

50. Aaron White, Iowa – The Hawkeyes have not played in the NCAA Tournament since 2006 and have not won a tournament game since 2001. The first streak is a lock to end his season and the second should, too.

Credit guys like White, who has started 52 games his first two seasons with the Hawkeyes. Fast? Not really. Explosive? Nope. Overpowering? Not at all.

Effective? You bet. White is solid around the basket, and he devoted part of his summer to rebuilding his jump shot because he's heard that opposing coaches don't think he can score from beyond 12 feet.

FAST FACT: I like guys who can get to the line. In the Big Ten last season, only Cody Zeller of Indiana shot more free throws than White, who made nearly 75 percent of 258 attempts.

49. Jerami Grant, Syracuse – If you have followed Syracuse basketball during the Jim Boeheim Era you know every season the Orange have a guy who averages 3.9 points and 3.0 one season and then plays like he belongs in the first round of the NBA Draft the next season.

That guy will be Jerami Grant, who will get the minutes that James Southerland got last season. At 6 feet 8, Grant can play on the wing or on the block or above the rim. He gets bonus points from me because he played high school basketball at DeMatha High outside Washington D.C.

FAST FACT: His father, Harvey, and his uncle, Horace, both played many seasons in the NBA and his brother, Jerian, is a starting guard at Notre Dame.

48. Luke Hancock, Louisville – Don't listen to those savvy folks at CBSSports.com, who claimed to list the Top 100 players in college basketball this season and did not include the Most Outstanding Player at the 2013 NCAA Final Four.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin chuckled when I told them that CBS snubbed Hancock in its Top 100. So did Sean Kilpatrick, the Bearcats' top player. Hancock won't be taken in the first round of the NBA Draft but I'm not looking at players the way Pat Riley and Danny Ainge look at them. Hancock has one special skill – clutch shooting – and many essential skills. He understands angles, blocking out, getting the ball to the guy with the cleanest look and zone rotations.

FAST FACT: Hancock was not healthy when last season began. He missed 25 of his first 29 three-point shots. After that he was money, making nearly 46 percent, including 8 of 10 in the Final Four. Case closed.

47. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado – Who? Is this a football column? No, the Buffaloes aren't very important in blocking and tackling any more either, are they?

Colorado basketball is one of those programs that you never watch. It's OK to confess that. I watch hundreds of games every winter and I don't remember watching the Buffaloes play last season more than once.

But Dinwiddie is expected to put Colorado on your TV screen and in the NCAA Tournament this season because he'll probably average close to 20 points.

FAST FACT: Need one more endorsement on Dinwiddie? You got it. It comes from Hancock. They were roommates at the World University Games, and they even traded practice shorts.

46. Davante Gardner, Marquette – There is nothing pretty about the way Gardner plays basketball. He's a guy who gets it done with bulk and force.

But bulk and force cannot be ignored. The Golden Eagles are the pick of many to win the Big East. Gardner averaged nearly 11 points in less than 22 minutes last season and was voted to the all-East Regional team because of what he did to Miami. He's going to average more minutes and points this year. Get out of his way.

FAST FACT: Gardner weighed more than 300 pounds when he arrived in Milwaukee. He is still listed at 290.

45. Andre Hollins, Minnesota – What happens when you put a proven 42 percent three-point shooter in the hands of a coach who knows how to utilize the three-point shot?

They're about to find out in Minneapolis. No Golden Gophers' player should benefit more from the switch to Richard Pitino from Tubby Smith. Bombs away.

FAST FACT: His father, Lionel, is the former head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.

44. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana – Yogi Ferrell, meet Luke Hancock. CBSSports.com doesn't believe that either one of you can play.

Would you take Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss over Ferrell or Hancock? That's hilarious.

Ferrell's stock plunged when he only took four shots and didn't make any in Indiana's final two NCAA Tournament games. What the wise guys forget is that Ferrell also averaged 11 points and shot better than 47 percent in the seven games prior to the final two.

With four 1,000-point scorers gone, Ferrell has to deliver this season for Tom Crean.

FAST FACT: He won the three-point shooting contest against the men's and women's teams at Hoosier Hysteria.

43. Kendall Williams, New Mexico – If you're looking for a guy who can go crazy for your college basketball fantasy team, this is your guy. Williams made 10 three-pointers in one game against Colorado State and had six 20-point games. The Lobos have a new coach, but Craig Neal was part of Steve Alford's staff last season.

FAST FACT: He was voted Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference last season.

42. LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State – It's not easy averaging 8.3 points per game when you play less than 17 minutes – especially on a team with Deshaun Thomas jacking up all the shots.

But that's what Ross did for the Buckeyes last season. He'll average even more this season because Thomas is gone, Aaron Craft will get Ross the basketball and Ross is really good.

FAST FACT: Arizona coach Sean Miller identified Ross as a future star after he made the three-pointer to beat the Wildcats, 73-70, in the Sweet Sixteen.

41. Markel Starks, Georgetown – I'll miss watching the Hoyas play now that Georgetown and Louisville are no longer in the same league. They have guys who understand the value of defending and team play. Georgetown remains the signature program of the Big East.

Starks is one of those high-effort guys. Plus, he can really shoot. No more Otto Porter means more offense from Markel Starks. Enjoy.

FAST FACT: Starks made at least three three-point shots in 10 games for the Hoyas last season.

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