Although the 2020-21 John R. Wood Award might perchance per chance thoroughly be won by a senior reminiscent of Iowa’s Luka Garza, the community of rookies on the most authorized Wood gape list is engaging. Four rookies, led by anticipated No. 1 NBA draft select Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma Train, appear on the 20-member list. ESPN.com’s panelists discussed whether Cunningham is if truth be told college basketball’s most efficient freshman, and also identified some contributors of this freshman class who, love Garza, might perchance per chance become Wood candidates as seniors.
Is Cade Cunningham your select for the tip freshman in college basketball? Are you able to place the following Luka Garza — a non-one-and-done player from this freshman class or one other class who might perchance per chance accumulate right into a Wood Award candidate as a senior, the perfect method Garza has?
Jeff Borzello, college basketball insider: Per chance or no longer that is on memoir of he’s on the West Soar and subsequently doesn’t accumulate adequate eyeballs, however USC’s Evan Mobley has been the most efficient freshman in college basketball this season and deserves a ways more attention than he’s bought. He is been arguably the most efficient player within the Pac-12, one in every of the most efficient defensive gamers within the nation and has helped lead USC to a high-25 rating and potentially a Pac-12 title. He was neck and neck with Cunningham on the tip of the recruiting rankings the past couple of years, and his sport — expert inner player on the offensive discontinuance and an elite shot-blocker defensively — has translated thoroughly to the college sport.
Evan Mobley locations his ticket on the game from the put up as he data a 14-level, 13-rebound double-double as USC defeats Oregon Train 75-62.
Finding the following Garza is a tough job given how distinctive he’s; most 6-foot-11 mammoth males who were high-100 recruits and sensible 12 and 6 as a freshman are gone neatly earlier than their senior seasons. North Carolina’s Day’Ron Sharpe might perchance per chance well be a easy select given his per-minute manufacturing, however he’s in general a one-and-done player. I order anyone love Kansas’ Jalen Wilson can like to unexcited stick spherical in Lawrence after this season, and he’s the form of player who can become a celeb on a high-10 personnel.
Relief an seek on bigs reminiscent of Duke’s Mark Williams and North Carolina’s Walker Kessler, two gamers who have not played consistent minutes this season, however were 5-star possibilities. I also don’t order Posh Alexander will ever steal the Wood Award, however the St. John’s level guard is one in every of my authorized gamers to gape in college basketball and I hope he sticks spherical for four years.
Myron Medcalf, senior college basketball author: I would give the nod to Cunningham however I produce no longer order or no longer it is a landslide. He joined an 18-steal personnel amid the stress of being the projected No. 1 select in lots of of the revered mock drafts. He has made some youthful mistakes however he’s averaging 18.7 PPG while connecting on 42% of his 3-pointers as a high-usage threat opposing teams enact all the issues they’re going to to stall. I order Jalen Suggs and Mobley like credible circumstances, too. But I order Hunter Dickinson deserves serious consideration, too. A one-loss Michigan personnel is amassing 1.13 factors per possession and keeping teams to merely 0.87 PPP with Dickinson on the floor this season, per hooplens.com.
And I’m going to cheat on the 2nd inquire of. The pandemic eligibility principles will allow every player to come encourage next season. That’s why Jay Huff enters the chat. The Virginia standout is in general a stunning senior for a Virginia personnel that can perchance well welcome encourage its total nucleus for one other push for Tony Bennett’s 2nd nationwide title. Huff is averaging 13.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG and a pair of.3 BPG while connecting on 48% of his 3-level makes an are trying this season. And he might perchance per chance merely be the chief of an spectacular, traditional Virginia personnel as soon as more next season and a serious contender for the Wood Award if he maintains or will increase the spectacular numbers he has compiled this Twelve months.
John Gasaway, college basketball author: I desire very remarkable to leap on Jeff’s “Mobley for Freshman POY” bandwagon on memoir of Mobley’s arrival if truth be told has coincided with USC’s emergence because the most efficient personnel within the Pac-12 by a pretty valuable margin. But then I seek at Mobley’s everyman usage payment on offense and then I seek at depressed Cade Cunningham working himself silly on a personnel that, how shall I attach this, is no longer blessed with potent non-Cunningham scoring alternatives. my bandwagon-jumping feels quite unfair.
Cunningham is rarely the least bit times continuously a easy gape this season however his errors are ones of commission and, as no less an authority than Bill Self acknowledged, the dude is candy. Our colleague Fran Fraschilla nailed it in his name of the Oklahoma Train-Kansas sport. Subsequent Twelve months on the following stage Cunningham will be surrounded with teammates who can each shoot and power, every form of dwelling will delivery up for him on the floor that he doesn’t like now and we are going to all proceed to discuss about how we saw all of this effectivity and all of those highlights coming. Cunningham is my select.
Up to now as finding the following Garza, I in level of fact like chosen to dangle my hat on the “Wood Award candidate as a senior” share of the inquire of on memoir of my different is in some ways the stylistic opposite of the favorite Hawkeye. Nonetheless, I’m cautiously optimistic that my guy might perchance per chance unexcited be spherical as a senior. (But who’s aware of, ever, right?)
Anyway, I’m going with Bennedict Mathurin at Arizona. Nobody’s being attentive to the Wildcats this season on memoir of UA’s on (what for lack of a bigger term is) a self-imposed stay on postseason eligibility. But for those gazing, Mathurin has confirmed some indicators of a player who might perchance per chance become a Garza-esque tell at some point soon soon. The freshman is making his shots and he even went off for 31 factors on the boulevard towards Oregon Train. On 2nd conception, per chance he might perchance per chance merely no longer stick spherical for four years regardless of all the issues, however if he does Mathurin is my Garza in waiting.
Bennedict Mathurin adds factors for Arizona’s aspect early as he slams it down on encourage-to-encourage possessions.
Joe Lunardi, ESPN bracketologist: I’m going with Cunningham for the easy reason that, with out him, Oklahoma Train is rarely the least bit times sniffing the NCAA occasion — allure or no allure. Mobley is unheard of, however USC had a potential occasion personnel sooner than his arrival (identical for Michigan and Hunter Dickinson). And, as electrifying as Jalen Suggs has been at occasions, Gonzaga is a Final Four contender even with an sensible level guard. So Cunningham is the different right here.
As for the Luka Garza of the 2023-24 season, I’m hoping or no longer it is Dr. Fauci, that his spectacular “rookie” Twelve months ends in 3 more and then a lifetime fulfillment award for ending the pandemic. That can perchance well merely be an less complicated prediction than identifying a most modern freshman or sophomore good adequate to be the most efficient player within the nation three years from now, however no longer good adequate to depart college earlier than then.