Two Wildcats Recognized for Early Season Play


Villanova’s two stars were recognized for their terrific play. 

Gregory Welsh


Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson both made an appearance on the John R. Wooden Award’s midseason top 25, as announced by the award’s advisory board on Jan. 11. Villanova was just one of four schools to have multiple players on the list, joining Duke, Arizona and UNC.

The Wooden award, named after the legendary UCLA head coach, has been given each year since 1976 to the most outstanding player in college basketball. Past recipients include legends such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan and many more.

The recognition is well deserved for the Wildcats’ two stars as they have both played tremendously during the first half of the season, leading the team to its current number 1 ranking.

Bridges has averaged 17 points per game thus far this season, along with six rebounds, two assists, and 1.7 steals. The junior is shooting just under 44% from beyond the arc and 82.3 percent from the charity stripe.

Brunson is averaging a team high 19 points per game, coupled with 5.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and only 1.6 turnovers. The point guard is also shooting an astounding 48.5 percent from three-point range, a number which, were the season to end today, would give him the best single season three-point field goal percentage in the program’s history.

Although Villanova has yet to have a player win the prestigious award, Josh Hart came very close just last year when he was named one of the five finalists for the honor. Frank Mason III of Kansas ultimately was recognized as the winner.

In terms of the race for this year’s Wooden, Oklahoma’s freshman phenom, Trae Young is widely considered to be the favorite at this moment. Brunson is close on is heals, however, and could have a legitimate shot if he continues to stuff the stat book.

While Villanova’s success as a team is certainly the first thing on everyone’s mind, the race for the Wooden is definitely something to keep an eye on in the season’s second half.