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Columnists | Message Board  | Daily Dribble

By Jeff Fox

December 21st, 2005


All-Time Best & Worst Wooden Award Winners


Since the inception of the Wooden Award to recognize college basketball's player of the year in 1977, it's recipients have included some of the greatest pro players of all time and some of its biggest busts.  Below you will find the All-Best and All-Worst lists of the Wooden Award (all lists are based on what the player did after college).


All-Time Best Wooden Award Winners List


1979 – Larry Bird – Indiana State


Not much needs to be said here about Bird.  “Larry Legend”, along with fellow NBA rookie Magic Johnson, helped transform the NBA and bring it to national (and international) prominence.  Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998, Bird retired from the NBA in 1992 with career averages of 24.3 points, 10 boards & 6.3 assists per game.  He was NBA MVP three years in a row (84-86), Finals MVP in 84 and 86 and won 3 league championships with the Celtics.


1984 – Michael Jordan – North Carolina


Another legendary performer, Jordan took the torch from Magic and Bird and brought the NBA to all-new heights.  Perhaps the greatest player of all time, Jordan retired with averages of 30.1 points, 6.2 boards, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game.  A 5 time league MVP and 6 time Finals MVP, Jordan led the Bulls to 6 NBA championships.


1985 – Chris Mullin – St. John’s


The Wooden Award winner the year after Jordan, Mullin also didn’t disappoint in the big leagues.  In 16 pro seasons with Golden State and Indiana, Mullin averaged 18.2 points, 4.1 boards and 3.5 assists per game.  One of the greatest scorers of his era, Mullin made All League honors four straight years (89-92) and was a member of the original American Olympic “Dream Team”. 


1987 – David Robinson – Navy


One of the classiest players to ever grace a basketball court, Robinson was also one of the best of his time.  In 14 seasons with the Spurs, “The Admiral” averaged 21.1 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3 blocks per game.  He also won Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and league MVP awards during his career.  After teaming up with Tim Duncan, Robinson went on to win 2 championships before retiring.


1997 – Tim Duncan – Wake Forest


The best, and most unassuming, player in the game today, Duncan is a consummate pro.  Despite only being in the league for 8 seasons, Duncan has already been its Rookie of the Year, MVP (2 times), and Finals MVP (3 times).  He has piloted the Spurs to 3 championships already and he has yet to celebrate his 30th birthday.  Already should be considered one of the greatest players of all time.


All-Time Worst Wooden Award Winners List


1986 – Walter Berry – St. John’s


Following in his teammate Chris Mullin’s footsteps, “The Truth” won the Wooden Award the year after Mullin.  However, he didn’t follow Mullin’s lead to fame and fortune in the NBA.  Berry only played three seasons in the NBA, averaging 14.1 points and 4.7 boards per game.  After finding himself out of an NBA job, Berry went on to have a very successful career overseas (in Greece, Italy and Spain), winning championships, MVP awards and smashing scoring records.


1990 – Lionel Simmons – LaSalle


After graduating from LaSalle with 4 year averages of 24.6 points, 10.9 boards, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals & 1.9 blocks a lot was expected of the “L-Train”.  After making the NBA’s All-Rookie team in 1991, posting averages of 18.0 points, 8.8 boards & 4.0 assists for Sacramento, it looked like his future was bright.  Unfortunately that was Simmons best season in the pros, as his points and rebounding numbers went down each of his next 6 years for the Kings.  Multiple knee surgeries ended his NBA career after a disappointing 7 years.


1993 – Calbert Cheaney – Indiana


So it’s a bit of a stretch considering a guy into his 13th season in the NBA as a bust, but the competition is fierce to not make it onto this list.  The majority of Wooden Award winners go on to be All-Stars in the NBA, so that is how Calbert fell onto this list.  A journeyman in the NBA, Cheaney is onto his 5th NBA squad and carries career averages of 9.7 points and 3.2 boards per game.  He has only played on a playoff team 2 out of his 12 seasons thus far.


1995 – Ed O’Bannon – UCLA


The only former Wooden Award winner selling cars in Nevada for a living (no, I didn’t make that up), O’Bannon had as disappointing a pro career as possible.  I was actually in the crowd at the 1995 NBA draft in Toronto when the hometown fans booed the Raptors selection of Damon Stoudamire because they wanted Toronto to pick O’Bannon.  That is why fans are NOT NBA GMs for a living.  Ed played 2 years in the NBA, averaging 5 points and 2.5 boards per game proving that there isn’t room in the NBA for a “tweener” with bad knees.  O’Bannon played overseas for a few seasons before moving to Nevada to complete his degree at UNLV, coach high school ball and sell cars.


2002 – Jason Williams – Duke


For a more complete report on Williams, check out my previous column – All-American Disappointments – Part 2.  A serious motorcycle accident has limited Jay to one NBA season and his NBA career is still on the shelf for the foreseeable future.




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