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Redick Left Off Wood Award Finalists

by Mike Boone

The Wooden Award, named for a college basketball legend has released its mid-season list of finalists eligible to be crowned college basketballís best player, and several ACC players appear on the list. Chris Paul from Wake Forest, Sean May from UNC, Julius Hodge from N.C. State, Chris Duhon from Duke, and B.J. Elder from Georgia Tech all made the roll call of the best of the best in collegiate hoops. These young men are all very good basketball players, but itís fairly obvious why each of them is on this list. Paul and Elder are both beneficiaries of early-season hype surrounding their teams surprising starts. Duhon is college basketballís answer to Eli Manning, rewarded for a career, not for a season in which he averages barely ten points a game. Hodge is an electric presence but is far from college basketballís upper echelon. May is a good forward, but heís no Emeka Okafor, more of a poor manís Luke Walton.

There is one player in the ACC though, who truly belongs to be one of the Wooden Award's top 30 finalists, and he wasnít even listed among the first cut of 50: J.J. Redick.

Redick is the leading scorer on the nationís number one team, he shoots 44% on three pointers, his free throws are always money and he's the best shooter in college basketball, period. Leading a Duke squad that features McDonaldís All-Americans up and down the roster, the sophomore has shown that his knockout shot is secondary to his ability to quietly lead a team. Redick is the one reason why Duke is again the nationís most feared program.

He lights the scoreboard up from all spots on the court with a jumpshot that no player in college basketball can hope to equal. He is simply money when the ball is in his hands. His ability to take a game over is amazing. Against Michigan State earlier this season, Dick Vitale was nearly stunned to silence as Redick led Duke to a big road win simply with his jumpshooting ability.. He isnít a big man who needs an entry pass to score; he isnít a point guard who distributes to every other player on the court. Redick is a pure shooter, a rarity in basketball these days. In games this season against Texas, Wake, Maryland and N.C. State Redick averaged 22 points. Not surprisingly Duke won all four of these games against quality opponents. Against Maryland, in front of a hostile crowd Redick singed the nets to hit five of six threes and lead his team to a big win against their rival. Redick belongs on the Wooden Award list and the fact that he isnít is an embarrassment to the memory of Coach Wooden and the other players who have won the award.

by Mike Boone


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