BOZICH | Can a U of L, UK, IU or WKU player rally in Wooden Award race?
No player from Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana or Western Kentucky made the Wooden Award list of 25 mid-season finalists. Can a local player make a late-season push for the award?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- No Donovan Mitchell. No Russ Smith. No Louisville representation on the list of 25 mid-season candidates for the John Wooden Award as the best player in college basketball.
No De'Aaron Fox. No Karl-Anthony Towns. No Anthony Davis. No Kentucky love either.
No Yogi Ferrell. No Victor Oladipo. Add Indiana to the list of local programs shut out on the Wooden list, too. Ditto for Western Kentucky, which might be the hottest team in the region. Ask Old Dominion.
The 25-player list features the expected assortment of guys from Duke (Marvin Bagley, Grayson Allen), North Carolina (Joel Berry, Luke Maye) and Villanova (Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson).
But nobody from U of L, UK, IU or WKU. That has not happened since … well, the WDRB Research Department will work on that.
Until I receive their report, it's time for a look at the analytics on local players.
*If any Louisville player has a chance to make a late push for Wooden recognition, it's Raymond Spalding.
The National Statistical college basketball site ranks Spalding the 43rd best player in the country and No. 7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Spalding has averaged a double-double over Louisville's last five games – nearly 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Give him the ball. Then give it to him again.
According to Ken Pomeroy, Spalding ranks 11th in nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. He's also in the top 100 nationally in block and steals percentage. Spalding is the only Louisville player with three Top 100 rankings in categories that Pomeroy measures.
The ACC players ranked ahead of Spalding?
Bagley; Maye; Wendell Carter of Duke; Bonzie Colson of Notre Dame; Clemson forward Elijah Thomas and Doral Moore of Wake Forest.
According to the National Statistics site, here are the rankings of David Padgett's veterans:
Anas Mahmoud 19th in the ACC, 159st nationally; Deng Adel, 44/346; Quentin Snider 59/497 and V.J. King 101/760.
*You can nominate several guys as Kentucky's top player -- P.J. Washington; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander; Kevin Knox or Hamidou Diallo.
For the first six weeks, Knox looked like the guy likely to make the Wooden Award cut. Now, I'd nominate Washington as the guy who could rally. He's averaged 13.8 points and better than 6 boards in UK's last eight games. Nobody questions his toughness.
Here's the strange thing: The numbers from two analytics site say that another Kentucky deserves more minutes.
That player is freshman center Nick Richards.
The National Statistics site puts Richards atop all of John Calipari's guys in its Player Context ratings. At Pomeroy, Richards is the only Kentucky player with three Top 100 ratings, primarily for his ability to rebound and block shots.
Here are the top UK guys in Player Context numbers:
Richards 9th in the SEC/72nd nationally; Washington 20/171; Gilgeous-Alexander 23/187; Knox 25/204; Hamidou Diallo 36/262.
*At Indiana, Juwan Morgan has clearly developed into Indiana's finest player. Over the Hoosiers' last 10 games, Morgan has averaged 18.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.
Morgan has outplayed two of the nation's top low-post players -- Bonzie Colson of Notre Dame and Jordan Murphy of Minnesota -- in head-to-head matchups, delivering with his commitment to positioning and beating guys to spots.
The biggest question with Morgan: With center De'Ron Davis out until next season after surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, can Morgan continue to play at least 38 minutes, as he has in the Hoosiers' last two games with Minnesota and Penn State.
Tough to do with foul trouble as well as three remaining spots in the schedule where Indiana plays twice in three days.
Here are the top IU Player Context performers:
Morgan 11th Big Ten/95th nationally; Davis 28/272; Robert Johnson 49/474; Freddie McSwain 54/507; Justin Smith 57/531.
*Western Kentucky surged to its fifth consecutive win and fourth in Conference USA while outlasting Old Dominion, 75-68, Thursday night. The Hilltoppers are tied with Middle Tennessee atop the league -- and the teams meet at Diddle Arena Jan. 20.
As expected, WKU players rank high in the National Statistic Context Ratings:
Justin Johnson, second in CUSA, 32nd nationally; Dwight Colebly,4/35; Darius Thompson 6/110; Lamonte Bearden 17/349; Taveion Hollingsworth 20/411.
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