LOS ANGELES – Two Gonzaga student-athletes - senior Kyle Wiltjer and sophomore Domantas Sabonis - were named to the John R. Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 list on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced.
Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts, the list is comprised of 25 student-athletes who are the frontrunners for the sport’s most prestigious individual honor, based on their performances during the first half of the 2015-2016 season. The list includes four schools who have two players chosen: Gonzaga (Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer), Kansas (Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden, Jr.), Kentucky (Jamal Murray and Tyler Ulis), and North Carolina (Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige).
Wiltjer is leading the West Coast Conference in scoring at 21.5 points per game and has posted 10 games this season with at least 20 points. The forward leads the team with 39 three-pointers and a .900 free throw percentage. Wiltjer also has three double-doubles this season and is second on the team in rebounding at 7.4 per game.
Sabonis has also put together a fantastic sophomore season, posting 18.9 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. He has a league-high eight double-doubles, including an impressive 28-point, 17-rebound effort against Portland last Saturday. Sabonis ranks first in the league and 10th in the nation in field goal percentage at .657 on the season. He’s also shooting .826 from the free throw line to rank second in the WCC.
The pair has been a nearly unstoppable force for Gonzaga this season, combining to score 40.4 points and grab 18.4 rebounds per game. They have combined to score 60-plus points in a game three times, including each of the last two games. Against Portland, Wiltjer had 32 and Sabonis had 28, which followed up an overtime win at San Francisco in which Sabonis had 35 and Wiltjer had 30.
No. 25/21 Gonzaga will be back on the floor on Thursday against BYU at 6 p.m. with the game televised on ESPN2.
About the John R. Wooden Award
The 40th annual presentation of the John R. Wooden Award will be the anchor presentation of the ESPN College Basketball Awards Show presented by Wendy’s. The men’s and women’s Wooden All-American Teams will be honored during the ceremony, as well as the 2016 Legends of Coaching Award, which will be presented to Tubby Smith, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Texas Tech. The event will take place the weekend of April 7-9, 2016.
Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award program features the most prestigious individual honors in college basketball. The Wooden Award Trophy 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 while maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. The unique Wooden Award trophy is presented to a man and woman each year. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (‘79), Michael Jordan (‘84), Tim Duncan (‘97), Candace Parker (‘07 and ‘08), Kevin Durant (‘09), Maya Moore (‘09 and ‘11), Trey Burke (‘13) and Doug McDermott (‘14). Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky won the 2015 Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s and Breanna Stewart of Connecticut won the 2015 Wooden Award.