LOS ANGELES – The SEC’s leading scorer and reigning Player of the Week, Arkansas sophomore forward Bobby Portis was named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 on Wednesday, announced on ESPN’s SportsCenter and on ESPN.com.
Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts, the list went from a preseason 50 to 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 2014-15 season. The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the 2015 John R. Wooden Award Presented by Wendy’s.
One of three high-major players averaging at least 18 points and eight rebounds, Portis has helped No. 19 Arkansas get off to a 13-3 start that includes a 2-1 mark in SEC action. Portis took over the lead in the SEC scoring race last Saturday when he went for 32 points and 11 rebounds in a win over Vanderbilt that combined with a 21-point night at Georgia helped land him not only conference player of the week accolades but also national praise from CBS Sports.
Portis’ 18.0 points per game leads the SEC while he’s also the frontrunner in field goal percentage (.582), second in offensive rebounds (3.5) and fourth in rebounding (8.0), making him the only player in the top five of each of those categories. Currently riding a career-best 11-game double figure scoring streak, Portis is tied for the team lead with six 20-point games compared to one in 2013-14.
Portis has taken his game to another level over the first three SEC games, posting a pair of 20-point outings and two double-doubles while leading the Razorbacks in scoring each contest. He became the first player in program history to go for 30 points and 10 rebounds in an SEC game against Vanderbilt, while he’s just the fourth player to lead Arkansas in scoring in each of the first three SEC contests. Through three games, Portis is averaging 23.3 points and nine boards.
The leading candidates will be further pared to 20 top players in early February. Fifteen top players who have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA will be submitted to the voters on the ballot prior to the NCAA Tournament. Every year, players make the ballot who are not on the preseason or midseason lists. Voting will take into consideration the opening rounds of the NCAA Tournament. The Wooden Award All American Team will be announced the week of the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament.