Villanova’s Brunson, S Carolina’s Wilson win Wooden Awards
LOS ANGELES — Jalen Brunson of national champion Villanova and A’ja Wilson of South Carolina won the John R. Wooden Award as national players of the year Friday night.
They received their trophies during the fourth annual College Basketball Awards in a nationally televised show from The Novo in downtown Los Angeles.
Brunson also claimed the Bob Cousy point guard of the year award, having averaged over 18 points while helping Villanova win its second national title in three years. Brunson claimed a slew of honors, including The Associated Press men’s player of the year. He helped the Wildcats spend a nation’s-best eight weeks at No. 1 in the AP Top 25 this season.
Brunson is the second player to win the national title and Wooden Award in the same year, and the first Wildcats player to earn the Wooden honor.
“It really truly does mean a lot,” he said. “There’s been so many great players that have come through Villanova. Being the first one is something I take great pride in.”
Wilson helped South Carolina to its first title last year and averaged 22.6 points and 11.8 rebounds for the team this season before the Gamecocks lost to UConn in the NCAA Tournament regional final. She was also the AP women’s player of the year and is expected to be the first pick in the upcoming WNBA draft.
Wilson finished her college career as South Carolina’s scoring and blocks leader.
“I’m just blessed to win this award,” she said. “This is something huge, this is something deeper than basketball.”
Villanova’s Jay Wright received the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching honor.
Other winners were:
n Purdue’s Carsen Edwards won the Jerry West shooting guard of the year for his team-leading 18.5-point average to go with 3.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists. West presented his namesake trophy.
n Angel Delgado of Seton Hall received the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar center of the year. He was the Big East’s top rebounder for the third time in four years, averaging 11.8 rebounds. He also averaged 13.6 points.
n Villanova’s Mikal Bridges received the Julius Erving small forward of the year for a season that saw him average 17.7 points and shoot 51 percent from the field.
n Deandre Ayton of Arizona accepted the Karl Malone power forward of the year award from the Hall of Famer. He was the Pac-12 player of the year and led the league in rebounding. The 7-foot-1 freshman had 24 double-doubles, the most in school history.