Three Gonzaga players were featured on the list of 50 preseason candidates for the 2021 Wooden Award that was announced Tuesday.
Junior Drew Timme, senior Andrew Nembhard and freshman Chet Holmgren were the trio representing the top-ranked Bulldogs, who fell one win short of a perfect season with a loss to Baylor in April’s national championship game.
Timme, a 6-foot-10 forward, was named to the NCAA’s all-tournament team after averaging 20.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists in six postseason games last season, joining UCLA‘s Johnny Juzang as the two members of the 2021 all-tourney team named to the initial Wooden Top 50. Also returning from last year’s Zags team is the 6-5 guard Nembhard, the ex-Florida transfer who dished out 31 assists in last season’s NCAA tournament.
The 7-foot center Holmgren is among the heralded freshmen on the Wooden list, the top-ranked recruit in the 2021 class who is also among the favorites to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2022 NBA draft.
Holmgren (No. 1) and three fellow Wooden-listed freshmen — Duke‘s Paolo Banchero (No. 2), Memphis‘ Jalen Duren (No. 4) and Auburn’s Jabari Smith (No. 5) — all appear in the top five of ESPN’s most recent 2022 NBA draft top 100.
Iowa Hawkeyes Luka Garza was the winner of last season’s Wooden Award and is currently in his rookie season with the NBA’s Detroit Pistons and the Motor City Cruise of the G League.
In addition to Gonzaga, schools with multiple players on the initial Wooden list include Alabama (Jahvon Quinerly, Jaden Shackelford), Baylor (Adam Flagler, Matthew Mayer), Duke (Banchero, Mark Williams), Illinois (Kofi Cockburn, Andre Curbelo), Kansas (Ochai Agbaji, Remy Martin, David McCormack), Kentucky (Kellan Grady, TyTy Washington), Memphis (Duren, Emoni Bates), Michigan (Hunter Dickinson, Caleb Houstan), North Carolina (Armando Bacot, Dawson Garcia), Purdue (Jaden Ivey, Trevion Williams) and UCLA (Juzang, Tyger Campbell, Jaime Jaquez Jr.).