The John R. Wooden Award recognizes the nation’s best player in college basketball each season, and three Wildcats have been named to the midseason watch list. Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey were both tabbed for the men’s list, while Rhyne Howard was included in the women’s top-25. The Wooden Award Top 25 Watch List was announced Wednesday night on ESPNU.
On the men’s basketball side, only Kentucky, Duke and Kansas had multiple players named to the midseason list, which includes 25 players representing ten conferences. UK’s backcourt duo has been essential to the Wildcats’ 11-3 start, averaging a combined 26.9 points, 10.4 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game.
Hagans has been doing a little bit of everything to affect the game this season, averaging 12.9 points, 7.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game while grabbing the leadership reins of a talented but young team. He’s one of only four players in the nation averaging at least 12.5 points, 7.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals.
Maxey has lived up to significant preseason expectations as one of the top freshmen in the country. He’s one of just five freshman on the midseason watch list. Those expectations only increased after he shot the roof off Madison Square Garden in his collegiate debut against Michigan State in early November. Highlighted by three 20-point performances, Maxey is averaging a team-best 14.0 points per game. He’s scored in double figures in nine games with 17 3-pointers. Against UK’s three ranked foes, he’s averaged 22.7 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 53.8% from the field, 44.4% from 3-point range and 81.8% from the free-throw line. He made eight 3-pointers in those games.
For sophomore Rhyne Howard, the midseason nod is only one in a growing list of honors this week. In the past seven days, Howard has also been tabbed by espnW as the National Player of the Week and by the SEC as Player of the Week following an impressive start to league play. The guard had 28 points against South Carolina and 37 points against Tennessee.
The UK Hoops team (12-2 overall, 1-1 in the SEC) is currently ranked No. 14 in the AP poll. The team’s next two games will be on the road. You can see the team in action Thursday at 8 p.m. against Alabama on the SEC Network+, followed by a noon tip-off against Florida on Sunday that can be seen on ESPNU.
Congrats to all three Wildcats!