Featured in this article:
  • Oscar Tshiebwe is favored -110 to win Wooden Award
  • Tshiebwe averages 16.2 points on 58.8% shooting, and 15.3 rebounds per game — he could set a rebound record
  • Illinois' Kofi Cockburn favored second at +400 to win the John R. Wooden Award

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Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe (34) heads to the bench with arms extended during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022. Kentucky won 78-57. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

A Kentucky player is the heavy favorite to win the John Wooden Award as the nation’s top basketball player.

There are a handful of awards given to the nation’s top men’s college basketball player, but the generally agreed upon Heisman Trophy version is the John R. Wooden Award, named after the greatest coach in the sport’s history. The winner is annually announced after the NCAA title game, which this year is Monday, April 4 from the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

The Wooden Award has been around since the 1976-76 season when UCLA’s Marques Johnson won it. A Duke player has won it a record six times, but that’s not happening this season with no Blue Devils listed among the betting options. A handful of other schools have had multiple winners, but rather amazingly blue-blood Kentucky has had just one: Current Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis as a freshman in 2011-12.

Kentucky is likely to add a second this spring as big man and West Virginia transfer Oscar Tshiebwe is the clear-cut -110 favorite on the college basketball futures odds.

Tshiebwe Could Set Rebounding Records 

john r wooden award

John R. Wooden Award.

Tshiebwe was a five-star recruit out of Pennsylvania in the Class of 2019, and he had a solid two-year career at West Virginia but played only 10 games in the 2020-21 season and decided to leave because he believed WVU’s playing style wasn’t best-suited for his game. Tshiebwe was considered the No. 1 transfer last offseason and never thought twice about anywhere but Kentucky.

The Wildcats are +850 third-favorites to win the national title in large part because Tshiebwe is absolutely dominating by averaging 16.2 points on 58.8 percent shooting and a national-best 15.3 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-9, 255-pounder from the Congo has 13 straight games with double-digit rebounds, the longest for any SEC player since at least 1996-97. That is believed to break a Kentucky record, but game-by-game rebounding records only date back to the 1967-68 season.

Tshiebwe has eight straight double-doubles and is looking to become the first Division I player to average at least 15.0 points and 15.0 rebounds per game since Drake’s Lewis Lloyd and Alcorn State’s Larry Smith did during the 1979-80 season.

Perhaps the only player who can catch Tshiebwe is another dominant big man, Kofi Cockburn of Illinois, who is +400 on this prop. The 7-foot, 285-pounder from Jamaica leads the Illini in scoring (21.5 ppg) and rebounding (11.4 rpg) while shooting 60.7 percent from the field. His next double-double will be No. 42 career, breaking the school record. No Illinois player has averaged at least 20 points and 10 rebounds for a season since Nick Weatherspoon in 1973 (25.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg).

Anyone for a Kentucky-Illinois matchup in the NCAA Tournament?

The other betting options for the Wooden Award are Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis (+800), Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji (+900), Purdue’s Jaden Ivey (+1000), Iowa’s Keegan Murray (+1200) and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren (+1400).

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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