Duke's Zion, Barrett among Wooden finalists

ByMyron Medcalf ESPN logo
Saturday, March 9, 2019

Although he is missing five straight games to finish the regular season due to a mild knee sprain, Duke's Zion Williamson tops the final list of men's Wooden Award contenders.

He and teammate RJ Barrett are the only freshmen on the national ballot for the honor, which was released Saturday morning. Players excluded from this list cannot win the award this season.

Veteran finalists Markus Howard (Marquette) and Grant Williams (Tennessee) could challenge Williamson, the favorite in the race, for the award.

Williamson could become the first player since former Ohio State star Evan Turner to win the Wooden Award after missing five or more regular-season games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Turner missed six games during the 2009-10 season.

Overall, the national ballot features a diverse pool of talent. Gonzaga is represented by both Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura. The mid-majors have two contenders in South Dakota State star Mike Daum and Murray State standout Ja Morant, a projected top-five pick in this summer's NBA draft. Three Big Ten players who have carried heavy loads this season -- Michigan State's Cassius Winston, Purdue's Carsen Edwards and Wisconsin's Ethan Happ -- are included too.

Kentucky's PJ Washington, Texas Tech's Jarrett Culver, Virginia's De'Andre Hunter and Morant are the four sophomores on the national ballot. Kansas star Dedric Lawson rounds out the 15 finalists.

The women's national ballot also contains a competitive field, including Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale, the buzzer-beating hero in last year's national title game.

Mississippi State's Teaira McCowan, a potential No. 1 pick in the upcoming WNBA draft, stands out among the women's contenders.

Among the finalists, Iowa's Megan Gustafson is the leading scorer in the country at 27.7 points per game, while dominant Oregon wing Sabrina Ionescu has already been named Pac-12 Player of the Year. Notre Dame (Jessica Shepard, Ogunbowale) and Connecticut (Napheesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson) are the only schools with multiple representatives. Collier recently won the American Athletic Conference's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Cal's Kristine Anigwe is the nation's top rebounder, while Asia Durr, Louisville's representative on the list, recently won her second consecutive ACC Player of the Year award. Iowa State's Bridget Carleton is the Big 12 Player of the Year, while Kalani Brown is averaging 15.4 points per game for No. 1 Baylor.

Texas A&M's Chennedy Carter, Maryland's Kaila Charles, Missouri's Sophie Cunningham and Stanford's Alanna Smith round out the list of finalists.

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