Wooden Award

The 2021-2022 Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 Watch List was announced on January 5th, with 25 talented basketball players making the list.

While everyone deserves recognition for their play this season, there are a few guys that could have been left off in place of guys who have had better stats and impact for their teams. Here are three surprises and snubs in that prestigious 25 man list.

To see the full list of players, click here.

Surprises

Jaime Jaquez – UCLA

Jaquez is averaging a respectable 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal for the #5 overall team in the country UCLA Bruins. While this is good, this is nowhere near the Top 25 player in the country good. He is joined on the list by his teammate Johnny Juzang, and usually, the case is when there are two players from the same team on the list, they are both equally dominant. In this case, Jaquez isn’t, and while he could turn it around second half as UCLA will play a lot more games, he shouldn’t be on this list over a lot of other guys.

Chet Holmgren – Gonzaga

This seems like a media and narrative appearance for Chet. His block totals and defensive presence are impressive, but Wooden Award voters have never tended to favorite defense-first players. On offense, he’s putting up a measly statline of 13 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, good for a freshman, but by no means a Top 25 player in the country statline.

Chet is only one of three freshmen on the list, so perhaps they were filling that criteria for this pick, but Holmgren making the Wooden Award list feels more of a forced pick than an actual pick.

Hunter Dickinson – Michigan

It’s crazy to put him on the last because in my exact same article last year, I put Dickinson in the snubs category even though the stats are almost identical. The difference is, last year Michigan was a Top 5 team in the country, this year, they are one game above .500. Typically the rule is that if your team isn’t a top 25 team, you need amazing stats to crack the list, like Max Abmas, but Dickinson’s 16.1 points per game aren’t even top 100 in the country and 8 rebounds aren’t going to put you over the edge. Michigan can still turn it around and Dickinson can prove he belongs, but right now he doesn’t.

Snubs

Julian Champagnie – St. John’s

Champagnie is putting up monster numbers at St. John’s this year, sitting at 6th in the nation with 21.5 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game. He has been extremely crucial in their 9-3 start. In fact, in the one game he missed they lost to a 4-7 Pitt team, showing how important he has been to his team’s success. Champagnie’s monster year shouldn’t go unrecognized, and in a year where Collin Gilespie is the only Big East player to make the Wooden Award list, Champagnie deserves a spot with him.

Christian Braun – Kansas

I think that the Wooden Award committee was told to pick a player on a Top 10 team who isn’t a star, but equally impactful and they picked Jaquez instead of Braun. Braun is averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.4 steals, all better stats than Jaquez while arguably having a bigger impact on his team. He and Agbaji have been the best wing duo in the country and a big reason why Kansas is a one seed at the moment. In fact, many people had him as a second-team All-American lock a few weeks ago, so it doesn’t make sense why he’s not even considered a Top 25 player now.

Taz Sherman – West Virginia

West Virginia is sitting at 11-2, and Taz Sherman is a big reason why. He is averaging 20.9 points a game which is 30(!)% of the team’s total scoring this season. In the one game he missed due to Covid protocols, they got crushed, so realistically the team is 11-1 when he plays. Many people were expecting a down year from West Virginia after their top 2 players left, but Sherman has kept them near the Top 25 all season with his exceptional play and will have West Virginia competing for a Big 12 title and a spot in the tournament. Sherman absolutely deserves a spot on the Wooden Award Midseason Watch List.

Honorable mentions: Marcus Sasser, Alondes Williams, Javon Freeman-Liberty

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