Boulder, Colo. Heisman Trophy winners generally come from schools that spend much of the season competing for a national title. The Heisman winner is one of 22 players on the field. Even a great football player can’t sway his team’s chances of winning as much as a basketball team’s best player.
It doesn’t make sense to penalize star football players for not having enough great teammates. That’s why I tend to vote for the most outstanding individual in the Heisman contest and believe the best basketball player more often should come from one of the nation’s best teams.
While on the topic, where can we go to get the name of the Wooden Award changed to the Wooden Trophy, thereby giving it at least a vague connection to the Heisman’s glamour?
More than halfway into the season, five candidates stand above the rest in worthiness for the men’s Wooden Award.
- Sherron Collins, Kansas, Sr.: At the end of the shot clock, he’s there to bail out his team, and at the end of games, nobody is better. He’s stronger than any player as quick as he is, and his basketball IQ ranks at the top of his strengths. Soft touch and hard edge make him an absolute beast. Has a better than 2-to-1 assists-to-turnover ratio.
- Scottie Reynolds, Villanova, Sr.: The Wildcats’ lack of size will be exposed as the schedule sharpens, but Reynolds — such a clever driver, steady shooter and relentless competitor — keeping them ranked in the top four for this long makes him worthy. Similar to Collins, he has a knack for hitting game-winning shots.
- Wes Johnson, Syracuse, Jr.: He went by Wesley while playing for Iowa State. He has shortened his name, lengthened his impact on college basketball and given himself a chance to make as loud a one-year impact on the city with the crippled economy and the remarkably tasty, pork-based white hot dogs. Mistaken for bratwursts by interlopers to the region, they taste nothing like them and go best with spicy mustard. Johnson has far more meat than mustard to his game. His length makes him a perfect fit for the back of Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone, his great jumping ability and soft shooting touch make him a tough guy to guard and he leads Syracuse in scoring (17.1) and rebounding (9.2).
- Evan Turner, Ohio State, Jr.: The Buckeyes are 13-3 with him in the lineup and 3-3 when he was injured. He’s averaging 18.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists.
- Kalin Lucas, Michigan State, Sr.: Statistically doesn’t compare favorably to Collins or Reynolds, but when the ball is in his hands he knows where to put it next to give his team the best chance at a basket. No greater compliment can be paid a guard.
Why not John Wall, the Kentucky freshman? He’s the most talented player in the nation and will be the No. 1 pick in the draft, but trails others in value because, as do most freshman, he commits too many turnovers (4.1 per game) and is capable of putting up a bad shot.
The five aforementioned leading Wooden Award candidates couldn’t all be named first-team All-Americans. The Associated Press instructs that voters must vote for five players who could take the court together. Based on that, the leading five are Collins, Reynolds, Johnson, Turner and KU’s Cole Aldrich.