It was a busy day for the United States Basketball Writers Association on Thursday, as the association released its midseason watch lists for both the Wayman Tisdale and Oscar Robertson awards. The Oscar Robertson Award is given annually to the best player in the country as voted upon by members of the USBWA.
Two teams (Indiana and Kansas) have multiple candidates on the list with the Hoosiers being represented by guard Victor Oladipo and center Cody Zeller, and guard Ben McLemore and center Jeff Withey represent the Jayhawks.
Of the 12 players two are freshmen: McLemore and UNLV forward Anthony Bennett. Seven conferences have players on the list with the Big Ten leading the way with four. In addition to Oladipo and Zeller, Michigan point guard Trey Burke and Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas are on the watch list.
The full list is as follows:
F Anthony Bennett, UNLV (6-8, 240, Fr., Brampton, Ont.)
G Trey Burke, Michigan (6-0, 190, So., Columbus, Ohio)
G Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse (6-6, 185, So., Hamilton, Mass.)
F Doug McDermott, Creighton (6-8, 225, Jr., Ames, Iowa)
G Ben McLemore, Kansas (6-5, 195, Fr., St. Louis, Mo.)
G Victor Oladipo, Indiana (6-5, 214, Jr., Upper Marlboro, Md.)
F Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga (7-0, 238, Jr., Kamloops, B.C.)
F Mason Plumlee, Duke (6-10, 235, Sr., Warsaw, Ind.)
G Russ Smith, Louisville (6-0, 165, Jr., Brooklyn, N.Y.)
F Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State (6-7, 215, Jr., Fort Wayne, Ind.)
C Jeff Withey, Kansas (7-0, 235, Sr., San Diego, Calif.)
F Cody Zeller, Indiana (7-0, 240, So., Washington, Ind.)
Overall this is a good list, but if there’s one change to consider it would be San Diego State’s Jamaal Franklin in place of Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, with Franklin currently leading the Aztecs in both points (17.4 ppg) and rebounds (9.4 rpg).
But to be fair to Carter-Williams he has been one of the major reasons why Syracuse has been a Top 10 team all season long, so it’s difficult to say that he doesn’t merit consideration.
And it’s good to see players who have displayed a great amount of improvement over the course of their respective careers (not to mention this season) in Oladipo and Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk get some recognition.
Of the 12 players on this season’s midseason watch list two, McDermott and Zeller, were named to last season’s midseason watch list. Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis won the Oscar Robertson Award last year.
(Note: While a member of the USBWA, I did not have a vote for the midseason list)