Gonzaga’s Steven Gray and Elias Harris (pictured above) are on the John R. Wooden Award preseason top 50 watch list, which was released Monday.
Gray, a senior guard, averaged 13.6 points per game game last season. Harris, a sophomore forward, averaged 14.9 points. The two Zags are the only WCC players on the list. Washington State’s Klay Thompson is one of six Pac-10 players on the top 50 list.
More here, and more below.
(FYI: Like several S-R sports staffers, I’m now on Twitter. You can find GU updates, including this one, Spokane Shock news, etc., at Twitter.com/SRJimm.)
From GU sports information:
Gonzaga University men’s basketball players Steven Gray and Elias Harris are on The John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list announced Monday by The Los Angeles Athletic Club.
The list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who, based on last year’s individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for college basketball’s most prestigious honor. The Women’s Preseason list will be released later this week.
Gray, a senior from Irondale, Wash., and Gray, a sophomore from Speyer, Germany, give the Bulldogs ten nominees in the history of the award. The Bulldogs have had two John R. Wooden Award Top Five recipients, Adam Morrison in 2006 and Dan Dickau in 2002. Blake Stepp was a Top 10 All-American in 2004 and Casey Calvary received the same recognition in 2001. Matt Santangelo (2000), Cory Violete (2003-04), Ronny Turiaf (2004-05), Jeremy Pargo (2008-09) and Matt Bouldin (2010) are the other Bulldogs to receive nominations.
Gray and Harris each started all 34 games for the Bulldogs last season. They are the top two returning scorers for the Bulldogs, Harris averaging 14.9 ppg and Gray 13.6 ppg last season. Harris was the top field goal shooter last year, shooting 54.7 percent from the field (180-for-329), and also paced the Bulldogs in rebounds at 7.1 rpg. Gray was fourth on the team in rebounding with 4.0 rpg, second in assists with 2.9/game and second in steals with 1.2/game.
Both Bulldogs were named to the All-West Coast Conference first team, and Harris was tabbed the WCC Newcomer of the Year by the conference coaches. Harris was also named to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 9 team first team.
Returning players from past Wooden Award ballots include four seniors: Duke’s Kyle Singler (2009, 2010), Robbie Hummel of Purdue (2008, 2010), Kalin Lucas of Michigan State (2009, 2010) and BYU’s Jimmer Fredette (2010). Singler was the MVP of the 2010 Final Four, leading the Blue Devils to the NCAA title in averaging 17.7 points and 7.0 rebounds his junior season. Hummel was a 2008 and 2010 All-Big 10 selection, and also a two-time Academic All-Big 10 pick who averaged 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds in 2010. Lucas is considered among the nation’s top point guards after leading the Spartans in scoring (14.8 ppg) and assists (4.0/game) during their Final Four campaign a year ago. Fredette was his team’s top scorer (22.1 ppg) and playmaker (4.7 assists/game) and was an All-MWC player as a junior.
Transfers, freshmen and medical redshirts are not eligible for the preseason list. These players and others who excel throughout the season will be evaluated and considered for December’s Midseason list and the official voting ballot released in March. The National Ballot consists of approximately 20 top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round during the NCAA Tournament.
Purdue (Hummel, JaJuan Johnson, E’Twaun Moore) was the only school with three players named to the Wooden Award preseason Top 50. Joining the Bulldogs with two players chosen were Colorado (Alec Burks, Cory Higgins); Duke (Singler, Nolan Smith); Michigan State (Lucas, Durrell Summers), and Syracuse (Kris Joseph, Brandon Triche).
Eleven conferences are represented on the Wooden Award Preseason List. Leading the way is the Big 10 (10), followed by the ACC (8), Big East (7), SEC (3), Big 12 (7), Pac-10 (6), Atlantic 10 (3), Mountain West (2), West Coast (2); and Conference USA, and the Horizon League with one apiece.
The 35th annual Wooden Award ceremony, which will include the announcement of the Men’s and Women’s Wooden Award winners, a special tribute to Coach Wooden and Wooden Award founder Duke Llewellyn, and the presentation of the Wooden Award All American Teams and the Legends of Coaching Award, will take place the weekend of April 8-10, 2011.
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor 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 winners include such notables as Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97), Blake Griffin (’09) and Maya Moore of Connecticut (’09). Ohio State’s Evan Turner and Connecticut’s Tina Charles won the Award in 2010.
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 American 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 on the Friday prior to the John R. Wooden Award Ceremony.
2010-11 John R. Wooden Award
Preseason Top 50 List
(Based on a preseason poll. Players listed alphabetically.)
Name, Height, Class, Position, School, Conference
Ty Abbott, 6-3, Sr., G, Arizona State, Pac, 10
Lavoy Allen, 6-9, Sr., F, Temple, Atlantic 10
Kevin Anderson, 6-0, Sr., G, Richmond, Atlantic 10
Talor Battle, 6-0, Sr., G, Penn State, Big Ten
Kenny Boynton, 6-2, So., G, Florida, SEC
William Buford, 6-5, Jr., G, Ohio State, Big Ten
Alec Burks, 6-6, So., G, Colorado, Big 12
Randy Culpepper, 6-0, Sr., G, UTEP, Conference USA
Malcolm Delaney, 6-3, Sr., G, Virginia Tech, ACC
LaceDarius Dunn, 6-4, Sr., G, Baylor, Big 12
Kim English, 6-6, Jr., G, Missouri, Big 12
Corey Fisher, 6-1, Sr., G, Villanova, Big East
Jimmer Fredette*, 6-2, Sr., G, Brigham Young, Mountain West
Austin Freeman, 6-4, Sr., G, Georgetown, Big East
Ashton Gibbs, 6-2, Jr., G, Pittsburgh, Big East
Steven Gray, 6-5, Sr., G, Gonzaga, West Coast
Jordan Hamilton, 6-7, So., G/F, Texas, Big 12
Elias Harris, 6-7, So., F, Gonzaga, West Coast
Jeremy Hazell, 6-5, Sr., G, Seton Hall, Big East
John Henson, 6-10, So., F, North Carolina, ACC
Cory Higgins, 6-5, Sr., G, Colorado, Big 12
Tyler Honeycutt, 6-8, So., F, UCLA, Pac, 10
Robbie Hummel*, 6-8, Sr., F, Purdue, Big Ten
JaJuan Johnson, 6-10, Sr., F/C, Purdue, Big Ten
Kris Joseph, 6-7, Jr., F, Syracuse, Big East
Kawhi Leonard, 6-7, So., F, San Diego State, Mountain West
Jon Leuer, 6-10, Sr., F, Wisconsin, Big Ten
Kalin Lucas*, 6-1, Sr., F, Michigan State, Big Ten
Shelvin Mack, 6-3, Jr., G, Butler, Horizon League
Demetri McCamey, 6-3, Sr., G, Illinois, Big Ten
E’Twaun Moore, 6-4, Sr., G, Purdue, Big Ten
Marcus Morris, 6-9, Jr., F, Kansas, Big 12
Jacob Pullen, 6-0, Sr., G, Kansas State, Big 12
John Shurna, 6-8, Jr., F, Northwestern, Big Ten
Kyle Singler*, 6-8, Sr., F, Duke, ACC
Chris Singleton, 6-9, Jr., F, Florida State, ACC
Nolan Smith, 6-2, Sr., G, Duke, ACC
Tracy Smith, 6-8, Sr., F, North Carolina State, ACC
Durrell Summers, 6-5, Sr., G, Michigan State, Big Ten
Jeffery Taylor, 6-7, Jr., G/F, Vanderbilt, SEC
Isaiah Thomas, 5-9, Jr., G, Washington, Pac, 10
Trey Thompkins, 6-10, Jr., F, Georgia, SEC
Klay Thompson, 6-6, Jr., G, Washington State, Pac, 10
Joe Trapani, 6-8, Sr., F, Boston College, ACC
Brandon Triche, 6-4, So., G, Syracuse, Big East
Nikola Vucevic, 6-10, Jr., F, USC, Pac, 10
Kemba Walker, 6-1, Jr., G, Connecticut, Big East
Derrick Williams, 6-8, So., F, Arizona, Pac, 10
Jordan Williams, 6-10, So., F, Maryland, ACC
Chris Wright, 6-8, Sr., F, Dayton, Atlantic 10