The John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 has been announced by The Los Angeles Athletic Club and four Big 12 student-athletes were on the list. Baylor's Pierre Jackson, Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey of Kansas and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart were among those recognized. The four Big 12 players on the list are tied for the second-most of any conference in the nation.
Jackson tops the Big 12 in scoring with 19.8 points per game. He also ranks in the top 10 in assists, steals, field goal percentage and free throw percentage. He has scored 20 points or more 11 times in his career and has six all-time outings with 10 or more assists - more than any other active Big 12 player.
Kansas is one of three schools to have two players among the 25. McLemore, one of three freshmen on the Wooden midseason list, leads Kansas and is second in the Big 12 with a 16.9 point scoring average. The redshirt freshman is coming off a career-high 33 points, on 10-of-12 shooting, including 6-for-6 from 3-point range, in Kansas' 97-89 overtime win against Iowa State on January 9.
Withey leads the nation with 5.1 blocked shots per game. The senior is tied for the Big 12 lead with six double-doubles, including three in the last five games for the Jayhawks. He ranks third in the conference in field goal percentage at 56.2 percent, fifth in rebounding with an 8.4 average and 12th in scoring with 13.5 points per game.
Smart is first in the Big 12 in steals with 39, a total that is 10 more than the next closest player. He is eighth in the Big 12 and second on his team in scoring with 14.3 points per game. He is averaging 20.7 points in his last three contests and is also fifth in the conference overall with 67 assists.
Selected by the Wooden Award National Advisory Board, the midseason list is made up of 25 student-athletes who, based on their performances in November, December and the beginning of January, are the frontrunners for college basketball's Wooden Award.
The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the official ballot. The National Ballot consists of approximately 20 top players who have proven to their universities that they are making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA.
The Wooden Award All-America Team, consisting of the nation's top 10 players, will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round of the NCAA Tournament. The John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year presented by Wendy's will be announced on ESPN during the Final Four Weekend in Atlanta. The 2013 Wooden Award Gala presented by Wendy's will take place April 11-13, 2013, at The Los Angeles Athletic Club. The Gala will honor the Men's and Women's Wooden Award winners, All-Americans and the Legends of Coaching Award winner, Kansas head coach Bill Self.
About the John R. Wooden Award
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is among the most prestigious individual honors in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation's best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous Big 12 winners include Blake Griffin (Oklahoma, 2008-09), Kevin Durant (Texas, 2006-07) and T.J. Ford (Texas, 2002-03).
Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities' general scholarship fund in the names of the All-America recipients. The Award has also sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the Award's name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club the weekend of the John R. Wooden Award Gala.
Big 12 Athletes On Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 List
Pierre Jackson, Baylor
Ben McLemore, Kansas
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Jeff Withey, Kansas