Power Ranking Every Candidate in the 2014 Wooden Award Midseason Top 25

C.J. Moore@@CJMooreBRCollege Basketball National Lead WriterJanuary 23, 2014

Power Ranking Every Candidate in the 2014 Wooden Award Midseason Top 25

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    Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    The Wooden Award midseason watch list was released Wednesday, Jan. 22, and that means it's that time of the year to make a lot of LOUD NOISES about who is not on the list.

    Last year, Victor Oladipo somehow didn't make it, but the committee righted its wrong and had him on the next watch list.

    The worst snubs are listed down below, and I would put all seven in the top 25. 

    But let's be honest, everyone is competing for runner-up this year. Here's how they rank behind the inevitable winner. (In case you've been sleeping through the season, I'll spare you the spoiler.)

    Biggest Snubs: Joel Embiid, Kansas; Nik Stauskas, Michigan; Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa; Xavier Thames, San Diego State; Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati; Gary Harris, Michigan State; Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh.


    All advanced stats, unless otherwise noted, come from kenpom.com (subscription required). 

25. Aaron Craft, Ohio State

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    Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 9.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.9 APG, 2.3 SPG

    I understand Aaron Craft's inclusion on this list. Craft is a great defender, a terrific leader and one of the most recognizable faces in college basketball.

    But Craft has also not been the most valuable guy to the Ohio State offense this year, and I would have a hard time even putting him in the conversation for midseason All-American.

    In the last four games (all losses), Craft has 19 turnovers. He's shooting only 28.6 percent from three on the season, and for a team desperate offensively, Craft has scored in double figures once in the last seven games.

24. Jordan Clarkson, Missouri

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    Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

    Stats: 18.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.4 APG, 1.3 SPG

    Jordan Clarkson, a Tulsa transfer, is one of the best slashers in college basketball. He gets to the rim for 52.4 percent of his attempts, according to Hoop-Math.com.

    At 6'5", Clarkson is a really tough matchup for opposing point guards. In fact, the Mizzou backcourt is so talented that it's hard to fathom how the Tigers are 2-3 in the SEC.

23. T.J. Warren, North Carolina State

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Stats: 22.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.4 SPG

    North Carolina State is the worst team represented on the midseason Wooden watch list, but it would be hard to snub T.J. Warren.

    Warren has scored 20-plus points in 14 of the 18 games he's played in. Unfortunately for Warren, the talent around him is not as good as what Mark Gottfried has had in recent years.

22. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin

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    Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 14.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.4 APG

    Sam Dekker is the best player on one of the nation's best offenses. He's also one of the best pro prospects Bo Ryan has ever coached.

    The Badgers are one of those teams, however, that does such a good job of spreading the ball around that it will be hard for any of their players to pick up the postseason hardware.

21. Joseph Young, Oregon

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    Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 18.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 SPG

    For the first two months of the season, Joseph Young was one of the most efficient/consistent scorers in the country and Oregon was one of the best stories, a team of transfers blending together right away for a perfect 13-0 start.

    Four straight losses later, the Ducks are the most puzzling team in the Pac-12, and Young has scored a combined 10 points in the last two games. Over the first 12 games, his season low in one game was 12 points.

20. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State

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    Stephen Haas/Associated Press

    Stats: 15.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.0 SPG

    Wichita State is a legitimate top-10 team and has a real shot at finishing the regular season undefeated. If the Shockers do that, it'll be hard not to give one of their guys some postseason love.

    It's just difficult to pick which one. Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are just valuable as Cleanthony Early. The latter is the best scorer of the bunch, so I can see why he got the nod here.

19. Rodney Hood, Duke

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 17.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 2.1 APG

    Rodney Hood might be one of the most underappreciated elite scorers in college basketball because he plays on the same team as Jabari Parker. Hood has actually been more efficient than Parker, shooting 45.9 percent from deep and 52.1 percent from the floor.

    You could also argue that Mike Krzyzewski trusts Hood more than Parker. Hood is playing more minutes, and in one of Duke's losses (at Notre Dame), Coach K pulled Parker in crunch time.

18. Kyle Anderson, UCLA

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Stats: 15.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.8 SPG

    Kyle Anderson deserves a spot on the All-Swiss Army Knife squad. He's become a better scorer this year, Steve Alford has trusted him to run UCLA's offense, and he grabs more than 25 percent of available defensive rebounds.

    Anderson has one triple-double this year and several other times when he's been close.

17. Adreian Payne, Michigan State

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    Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 16.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 BPG

    Adreian Payne has missed Michigan State's last four games because of plantar fasciitis. The last time he played, Tom Izzo found him crying in the locker room before the game against then-unbeaten Ohio State because he didn't think he could play. He toughed it out and scored 18 points in 32 minutes.

    When Payne has played, he has been one of the most consistent performers in the country among post players. He is a nightmare of a matchup with the ability to score inside and out.

16. Chaz Williams, UMass

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    Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 15.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 7.3 APG, 1.4 SPG

    Chaz Williams has led the surprising Minutemen to a 16-2 start. For the second straight season, he's one of college basketball's best assist men. And he's a threat to score 20 every night.

    Williams has three double-doubles this year, including a ridiculous line of 32 points, 15 assists and just one turnover in a win against BYU.

15. Casey Prather, Florida

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    Jay Sailors/Associated Press

    Stats: 17.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 2.1 APG

    The Gators are the national title contender that probably gets less love than any of the other contenders in the country. Casey Prather is a big reason why Florida should be in that conversation.

    After averaging 6.2 points off the bench last season for the Gators, Prather has become one of the game's best slashers and a consistent scorer.

    He's making an impressive 64.2 percent of his twos, which is a number usually only post players who spend their time shooting layups can approach.

14. Aaron Gordon, Arizona

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 12.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.9 BPG

    Aaron Gordon's numbers are not as impressive as his fellow freshmen who were the rage of the preseason, but Gordon has been just as valuable to his team.

    Gordon has helped make the paint a no-fly zone for Arizona opponents. The Wildcats rank first in effective field-goal percentage defense (41.1 percent) and are allowing only 18.4 percent of their opponents' attempts at the rim, which is also No. 1 in the country, per Hoop-Math.com.

13. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    Stats: 15.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 0.9 BPG, 0.9 SPG

    As much flak as Andrew Wiggins gets for not conquering college basketball in LeBron James-esque fashion, he's been solid for a Kansas team that is now beginning to play like one of the best two or three teams in the country.

    Wiggins has emerged as Bill Self's stopper on defense, he's a blur in transition, he's a pretty reliable jump-shooter, and he's one of the best wing rebounders in the country.

    He's not LeBron, but he's been (and will continue to be) really valuable to the Jayhawks.

12. Julius Randle, Kentucky

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    James Crisp/Associated Press

    Stats: 16.7 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 0.8 BPG

    Julius Randle's numbers are impressive considering he's double-teamed nearly every time he touches the ball.

    When Randle has space—and even sometimes when he doesn't—he has been a beast attacking the rim. He's also an elite rebounder, which has helped him put up consistent numbers when he can't find room to operate in the post.

11. Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico

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    Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 20.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.4 BPG

    It's easy to jump all over the selection committee for some of the midseason snubs, but I say bravo for including Cameron Bairstow.

    New Mexico's Aussie big man flies under the radar because he plays for the Lobos. As a senior, he hasn't been the star on his own team until this season.

    If you get the chance, check out the Lobos this year. Unlike last season, they're not great defensively, but the Bairstow-Kendall Williams-Alex Kirk combo is a blast to watch on the offensive end.

10. Keith Appling, Michigan State

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    Robin Scholz/Associated Press

    Stats: 15.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.2 SPG

    For three years, Keith Appling was a scoring guard. This year, he has earned the right to be called a point guard. Appling has matured and done a good job spreading the ball around for the Spartans and picking his spots to score.

    He's been at his best in Michigan State's two biggest games: versus Kentucky (22 points, eights assists and four steals) and against Ohio State (20 points, seven assists, six rebounds and a dagger three in overtime).

9. C.J. Fair, Syracuse

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    Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 16.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.6 SPG

    C.J. Fair is a professional scorer. He just happens to somehow still be in college.

    Fair has scored in double figures in all but one game this season. He's one of the few guys in the college game who can consistently knock down a mid-range jumper. He's also a valuable asset on the defensive end with his length and agility in the Syracuse zone.

8. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse

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    Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 11.9 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.7 SPG

    Last year, Syracuse had a lottery pick, Michael Carter-Williams, orchestrating the offense. This year the Orange offense is better than the MCW-led attack.

    That's probably the best compliment you can pay Ennis, as Jim Boeheim has put all his trust in the freshman point guard. He's extremely clever off the dribble and can take chances without making mistakes—only one time this season has Ennis had more than two turnovers.

7. Nick Johnson, Arizona

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    Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 16.3 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG

    Nick Johnson is the leading scorer on the nation's best team, and that will usually land you in the conversation for Player of the Year.

    Johnson is a lockdown defender for the Wildcats, an excellent finisher in transition—he scores 1.47 points per possession in transition, per Synergy—and he's evolved over his career into a reliable jump-shooter.

    The only knock on any of the Wildcats is that they have so much help around them that they're unable to put up POY numbers.

6. Jabari Parker, Duke

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Stats: 18.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.2 BPG

    Jabari Parker started the season on a Kevin Durant-type pace, scoring 20 or more points in seven straight games.

    Parker has since slowed down—he had a recent four-game slump when he averaged 10.5 points—but he's still one of the best offensive weapons in college basketball with efficiency numbers that rival Durant's freshman year at Texas.

5. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 17.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.9 APG, 1.9 SPG

    Big Shot Shabazz.

    If UConn weren't at .500 in its league, Shabazz Napier would probably be in the top three of this list.  

    The highlight of Napier's season was the cold-blooded buzzer-beater he knocked down to beat Florida on Dec. 2. And if you need someone to go hit a jumper under pressure, Napier is your man.

    He shoots 66.7 percent on the rare chance that he's unguarded on a catch-and-shoot jumper, according to Synergy. He's scored the eighth-most points in college basketball on jumpers off the dribble (76 points on 72 shots), and only one man in front of him (William & Mary's Marcus Thornton) has a higher point expectancy when he pulls up off the dribble, per Synergy.

    Napier also leads his team in assists, and at 6'1", he's UConn's top rebounder. Napier is not quite at Kemba Walker levels of carrying his team on his back, but he's pretty darn close.

4. Russ Smith, Louisville

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Stats: 18.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.9 SPG

    Rick Pitino has trusted Russ Smith with more playmaking responsibility this season, and it's rare that Smith has a shaky decision-making game.

    Smith has been Louisville's best offensive option whether he's taking the shot or creating for others. He has by far the highest assist rate of his career (32.6 percent), and he's shooting career-best numbers from the floor (44.7 percent) and outside the arc (39.8 percent).

    The Cardinals have not lived up to preseason expectations, but they're starting to play better lately and have been the class of a better-than-expected American Athletic Conference thus far.

3. DeAndre Kane, Iowa State

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    Matthew Holst/Getty Images

    Stats: 16.7 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.6 SPG

    Until Iowa State's three-game losing streak, DeAndre Kane was in the runner-up spot nationally and the front-runner for Big 12 Player of the Year.

    Fred Hoiberg has used Kane all over the court, and he fills up the stat sheet every night for the Cyclones. Kane ranks in the top 10 in the Big 12 in scoring (sixth), assists (second), rebounding (10th) and steals (second).

2. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

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    Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

    Stats: 17.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 2.6 SPG

    Marcus Smart is back to playing at an extremely high level after a slump near the end of the nonconference schedule.

    In Oklahoma State's last four games, he's averaging 20.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists. He nearly went for a triple-double (16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) in last Saturday's loss at Kansas.

    Smart has also had his low spots this year—a technical at K-State for hanging on the rim that arguably cost his team the game was the lowest—and he's still not a consistent shooter from behind the three-point line (32.2 percent).

    If Smart could somehow win his team a Big 12 title, maybe he would make this more of a race. But even then, it's doubtful No. 1 would slip up enough to let Smart catch up.

1. Doug McDermott, Creighton

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    Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats: 24.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.8 APG

    Have fun fighting for runner-up, kiddos. There's no stopping Doug McDermott.

    If he was going to slow down, it would have happened when Grant Gibbs, Creighton's best passer, went out with a knee injury. Since that time, McDermott is averaging 26.8 points.

    Not only could voters give McDermott Player of the Year as a career award, but no one is more deserving this season. Creighton's offense is the most efficient in the country—2.5 points per 100 possessions better than second place—and McDermott is making 53.3 percent of his twos, 44.0 percent of his threes and 90.3 percent of his free throws.

    May the basketball gods keep him healthy, and let the race for runner-up begin.


    C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @cjmoore4.