DAILY DISH: The 25 finalists for the 2012 Wooden Award, Our Midseason College Basketball Awards

By: Kels Dayton

The 25 finalists for the coveted John Wooden National Player of the Year Award were released on Tuesday. It doesn’t make too much sense to release them this way, with half of the season still to go, but hey, that’s life. Here they are, in no particular order:

Harrison Barnes, 6-8, So., F, North Carolina–Barnes is always a big-name preseason candidate, and he’s backed up the talk so far  (16.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg).

Will Barton, 6-6, So., F, Memphis–The Tigers have been one of the nation’s biggest disappointments, so Barton’s not winning the award despite his great production (18.2 ppg, 9.0 rpg).

Mizzou's Marcus Denmon is one of our picks for First-Team All-American this season. (Photo: UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

William Buford, 6-6, Sr., G, Ohio State– Buford has been solid all around for the Bucks, but he’ll need a big-time push to take home the hardware (15.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.5 apg).

Anthony Davis, 6-10, Fr., C, Kentucky– Davis just might be the Defensive Player of the Year in college basketball this season (13.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 4.6 bpg).

Marcus Denmon, 6-3, Sr., G, Missouri–He’s the catalyst for the most surprising team in the nation, not to mention one you do NOT want to see on short notice in March (17.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.7 apg)

Draymond Green, 6-7, Sr., F, Michigan State— Averaging a double-double (15.8 ppg, 10.1 rpg) and has helped spark MSU’s 15-1 turnaround.

John Henson, 6-11, Jr., C, North Carolina– The Big Muppet has a huge ceiling, and could be an NBA lottery pick, but he probably won’t win the award (14.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg).

John Jenkins, 6-4, Jr., G, Vanderbilt–No chance Jenkins takes home the hardware after Vandy’s early-season faceplant, but he’s still a great individual player (19.8 ppg).

Orlando Johnson, 6-5, Sr., G, Cal-Santa Barbara– Johnson has emerged as the best player in the Big West and is having a terrific season (20.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg). He’ll contend with Long Beach State’s Casper Ware for Big West POY honors.

Darius Johnson-Odom, 6-2, Sr., G, Marquette– Nice recognition for the senior guard, who has taken over for Marquette this season (18.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg).

You'll hear the name Perry Jones III pretty early on draft night, whenever he comes out. (AP Photo)

Kevin Jones, 6-8, Sr., F, West Virginia– The big man can shoot, drive, and defend. He’s the main reason WVU hasn’t fallen back this season (20.1 ppg, 11.6 rpg).

Perry Jones III, 6-11, So., C, Baylor– NBA scouts drool over his size and athleticism, and he may well be the No. 1 pick in the draft, but he’s not the best player in college hoops this season (14.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg).

Kris Joseph, 6-7, Sr., F, Syracuse– Nice for Joseph to get mentioned as the leading man on the top-ranked team in the country. (13.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg)

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6-7, Fr., F, Kentucky–Another year, another extremely talented freshman for Calipari. Could be UK’s go-to guy if Terrence Jones doesn’t get his act together (13.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg).

Coaches' son Doug McDermott has been unbelievable for Creighton, shooting 53 percent from three-point range. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Jeremy Lamb, 6-5, So., G, Connecticut–The Huskies have been mildly disappointing, and that’s going to hurt Lamb (17.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg). He needs to step up and become more of a leader in crunchtime.

Damian Lillard, 6-3, Jr., G, Weber State– The nation’s leading scorer at 25.5 ppg, also averaging 5.8 rebounds and 3.8 assists. Lillard does absolutely everything for the Wildcats.

Doug McDermott, 6-7, So., F, Creighton– McDermott has had an absolutely special season at Creighton, and could very well win this award if the Jays make a push into the Top 10. The kid is shooting 62 percent from the field, including an UNHEARD OF 53 percent from three (24.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg).

Mike Scott has been a revelation for Virginia this season. (AP Photo)

Scott Machado, 6-1, Sr., G, Iona–The frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year has separated the Gaels from the pack in that conference and is dishing out the assists like Ricky Rubio (13.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 10.3 apg)

Kendall Marshall, 6-4, So., G, North Carolina–He may be the smoothest point guard in the nation, and is a great distributor, but doesn’t score enough to win this award (5.8 ppg, 9.6 apg).

Mike Moser, 6-8, So., F, UNLV–The Rebels forward is averaging a double-double (13.9 ppg, 11.2 rpg), and has helped lift UNLV to a terrific start.

Arnett Moultrie, 6-11. Jr., C, Mississippi State– With all the talk surrounding Renardo Sidney, Moultrie has emerged as the best player in the Bulldogs’ frontcourt (16.5 ppg, 10.9 rpg).

Thomas Robinson, 6-9, Jr., F, Kansas– This is our choice for Player of the Year at the midseason mark. Robinson is beastly down low, and has lifted KU to a Top-10 ranking almost by himself (17.8 ppg, 12.8 rpg). He’s been impossible to stop, and has done it against some of the nation’s best competition.

Mike Scott, 6-8, Sr., F, Virginia– Scott has shocked analysts around the country by becoming the midseason frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year (16.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg). No way Virginia is sniffing the top of the ACC standings without him.

Jared Sullinger, 6-9, So., F, Ohio State– He’s been All-American good, but probably not Player of the Year-good with the way low-post challengers Robinson and Scott have played. (17.3 ppg, 9.3 rpg).

Thomas Robinson is the Roundball Daily Midseason Player of the Year. (Photo: Jamie Squire/ Getty Images)

Cody Zeller, 6-11, Fr., C, Indiana– The big man is the main reason why Indiana has experienced a renaissance season this year. (14.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg).

BIGGEST SNUB: Isaiah Canaan, 6-0, Jr., G, Murray State– The waterbug-quick Canaan (18.5 ppg, 4.1 apg, 3.2 rpg) has been the do-everything guard for Murray State, leading the Racers to an 18-0 record and the best start in program history, not to mention a top-ten national ranking. It’s been a dream season, an all-time season at Murray State, and Canaan is the major reason why. He deserves mention on the list of the Top 25 players in the country.

OUR PICK: Thomas Robinson, F, Kansas. Robinson has done everything for the Jayhawks, averaging 17.8 points and 12.8 rebounds per game. If Kansas wins the Big 12 regular season title for an eighth straight year, it will be mostly because of Robinson, and that should be enough to push him past Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis for the award.

MIDSEASON ALL-AMERICAN TEAM: We’re only picking five. You know, like the total number of players a team can have on the court at one time. Unlike how the AP does it, where they pick as many as they feel like. Yeah, that was a shot at you, AP. Anyway, here they are: G Marcus Denmon, Missouri, G Doug McDermott, Creighton, F Mike Scott, Virginia, F Thomas Robinson, Kansas, C Anthony Davis, Kentucky.

MIDSEASON COACH OF THE YEAR: Tom Crean, Indiana. The Hoosiers boss has done a heck of a job rejuvenating the program in Bloomington. It’s never been a question of if, but when Crean would get things rolling again, but no one believed he could coax the Hoosiers to a 15-1 start.

SURPRISE TEAM OF THE YEAR: No. 10 Murray State. It’s not surprising that the Racers are good, but the fact that they are 18-0 with wins over Memphis, Dayton, and Southern Miss is. Murray State is in the Top 10. Just let that sink in for a moment.

DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR: Pittsburgh. Scroll down a little bit for more on why the Panthers (11-8, 0-6 Big East) have been so putrid.



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