The United States Basketball Writers of America (USBWA) released its midseason watch list for the Wayman Tisdale Award, which is given annually to the nation’s best freshman as voted upon by members of the association.
Of the twelve freshmen on the list three play at UCLA: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad. The Pac-12 leads the way with four players on the list as Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson joined the three Bruins.
UCLA is one of two schools with multiple candidates on the list as Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III and Nik Stauskas are also under consideration.
Three Big 12 players are on the list, including Kansas’ Ben McLemore, and of the 12 players 11 hail from “BCS AQ” conferences, with UNLV’s Anthony Bennett representing the Mountain West.
The full list is as follows:
G Jordan Adams, UCLA (6-5, 220, Fr., Atlanta, Ga.)
G Kyle Anderson, UCLA (6-9, 235, Fr., Fairview, N.J.)
C Isaiah Austin, Baylor (7-1, 220, Fr., Arlington, Texas)
F Anthony Bennett, UNLV (6-8, 240, Fr., Brampton, Ont.)
G Jahii Carson, Arizona State (5-10, 175, Fr., Mesa, Ariz.)
G Kevin (Yogi) Ferrell, Indiana (6-0, 178, Fr., Indianapolis, Ind.)
G Ben McLemore, Kansas (6-5, 195, Fr., St. Louis, Mo.)
G/F Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (6-6, 225, Fr., Las Vegas, Nev.)
F Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (6-10, 228, Fr., Everett, Mass.)
F Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (6-6, 210, Fr., St. John, Ind.)
G Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (6-4, 225, Fr., Flower Mound, Texas)
G Nik Stauskas, Michigan (6-6, 190, Fr., Mississauga, Ont.)
Overall this is a good list, but as Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com points out St. John’s freshman forward JaKarr Sampson has a very good argument for inclusion. A five-time Big East Rookie of the Week selection, Sampson is averaging 14.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per game for the surprising Red Storm.
So if Sampson were to be added which player comes off the list? Ferrell would be the most likely option in that regard, but the freshman point guard has been solid in leading one of the nation’s best teams.
Duke guard Rasheed Sulaimon and Xavier guard Semaj Christon are two other freshmen who have played well this season, but here’s a third who hasn’t received much attention nationally: High Point forward John Brown.
The Panthers may be 10-10 (5-3 Big South) on the season but the redshirt freshman has been a bright spot for Scott Cherry’s team, averaging a team-best 17.4 points per game and also grabbing 6.5 rebounds per contest. Brown is shooting 51.9% from the field and combines with Allan Cheney to form arguably the best front court tandem in the Big South.
However, even with the arguments that can be made for a Sampson or Brown it’s tough to find any fault with this list (note: while a member of the USBWA, I did not have a vote for the midseason list).