At the beginning of January, the Los Angeles Athletic Club released the annual midseason watch list for the John R. Wooden Award for college basketball’s most outstanding player. With Duke men's basketball tied for the second-most players on the list, the Blue Zone takes a look at the two star Blue Devils to make it and their chances of taking home the award at season's end:
2021-22 statline: 17.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.3 APG
Paolo Banchero’s odds for the Wooden Award currently stand at +900, tied for second with Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji and Illinois' Kofi Cockburn, but behind Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis at +750. The 6-foot-10 freshman and former No. 2 recruit in the nation is having a spectacular season for the Blue Devils, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding to this point. His 17.9-point scoring average is good for sixth in the ACC, but just 67th nationwide. Duke’s schedule has been one of the toughest in the nation, though, and that should help his case come the end of the season. Through the tough ACC slate, Banchero has held up pretty well to the competition. 2022 specifically seems to be his year, as he has scored at least 20 points in three of four contests since the ball dropped, including a running tally of three straight games of that magnitude.
Wendell Moore Jr.
2021-22 statline: 15.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.8 APG
Meanwhile, Wendell Moore Jr.’s odds for the Wooden Award currently stand at +3500, meaning that he is having a top-25 season in college basketball and warrants a spot on the 25-man watch list, but also likely won’t contend for the award itself. The Charlotte native leads the Blue Devils in assists per game with 4.8 despite not playing the point guard position. As a team captain and senior leader for Duke, Moore has stepped up this year: His play has elevated to another level, but it’s clear that he has become one of the bonafide leaders of this Duke squad. He is also splashing threes this season with 37.7% accuracy. With an impressive, do-it-all statline on 55% shooting, it’s clear that the junior is talented and disciplined enough to take this Duke team wherever it wants to go.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.