Wooden Watch: Hield, Valentine, Felder, Ulis

Ben Simmons said he “missed a couple classes” which led to his GPA falling below a 2.0, something he thinks most college students understand. I can’t say I’ve never skipped class before, but when you have so many resources at your disposal, the blame’s 100% on you not wanting to do the work.

Either way, that took Ben Simmons out of the running for the Wooden Award, college basketball’s Heisman trophy, opening the door for a flurry of candidates.

Buddy Hield

As Ben Simmons flounders, there’s more chatter among NBA teams about the best prospect coming into the draft. Numbers have dipped percentage-wise, but they’re still well above average. Near 50% from the field, 47% from 3, while averaging 25 points per game, good for second in the nation. He’s had the “Wooden” moments”: 46 vs. Kansas in the game of the year or 32 in a two point win over LSU. Hield should be the winner, but this isn’t as much of a lock as we’ve seen in the past.

Denzel Valentine

Draymond Green comparisons are too easy to make. Valentine’s a F/C, and is 4th in the nation in assists with 7.5 assists per. He’s got the same number of rebounds per game, and then chips in 20 points. Multi-tool player that will be loved come draft night, after teams have seen what the Warriors have done with a player with that skill set. Two triple-doubles and eight double-doubles are something to write home about. Closest to Buddy Hield in the discussion, but may not have that big game appeal. Monster games versus Kansas and Maryland are what voters will have to review.

Kay Felder

If you haven’t heard of Felder, tune in. Averaging 24 points per places him 5th in the country, while 9.3 assists leads the nation. He slowed down the last month, but had five 30 point games this year, and 17 (!!!) double-doubles with assists, including 4 games with more than 14 assists. Oakland lost the Horizon League, and will have to hope for the NIT. Felder’s beyond a long shot, but he should have votes.

Tyler Ulis

Ulis won SEC player of the year and SEC defensive player of the year, the first to do so since Anthony Davis. The stats on paper won’t be enough to win him the award. 16 points and 7 assists, and only shooting 42% from the field (31% from 3) don’t jump off the paper. But he’s leading a talented Kentucky team, and is helping them find their stride. If they can win the SEC, which they should, Ulis’s Wooden probability and his draft stock will skyrocket.

Others

Felder’s a long shot, but he’s more interesting than these guys I’m about to write about. Brice Johnson’s been the surprise of the year at UNC, and his numbers have been serious when it matters most. Malcolm Brogdon’s leading UVA towards a #1 or #2 seed. Numbers aren’t better than anyone above, and I didn’t hear of him until 5 minutes ago. Jakob Poeltl’s going unnoticed, but putting up numbers similar to Brice Johnson. Could end up 5th in voting.

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