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NCAAB Futures: Wooden Award futures Bets to make now

December 28th, 2021

EJ Liddell.jpeg

NCAAB player of the year or the John Wooden Award futures market is an interesting one to handicap, the odds are generally pretty static throughout the season. Meaning that the odds don't change too much. Generally there are a few players who have a legit shot at winning and the odds just seem to tighten up as they year goes on.

Last year Luka Garza was the runaway winner and it was really never in doubt. He was odds on for the majority of the year and there wasn't much value to be had outside of maybe betting him at the beginning of the season. This is year is significantly more interesting however, as there are multiple players with a chance to win. We looked back at the previous 25 winners to help us make a bet on this year's race. 

Previous 25 Wooden Award Winners


Luka Garza    Iowa
Obi Toppin    Dayton
Zion Williamson    Duke
Jalen Brunson    Villanova
Frank Mason III    Kansas
Buddy Hield    Oklahoma 
Frank Kaminsky    Wisconsin
Doug McDermott    Creighton
Trey Burke    Michigan
Anthony Davis    Kentucky
Jimmer Fredette    Brigham Young University
Evan Turner    Ohio State
Blake Griffin    Oklahoma
Tyler Hansbrough    North Carolina
Kevin Durant    Texas
J.J. Redick    Duke
Andrew Bogut    Utah
Jameer Nelson    Saint Joseph’s
T.J. Ford    Texas
Jason Williams    Duke
Shane Battier    Duke
Kenyon Martin    Cincinnati
Elton Brand    Duke
Antawn Jamison    North Carolina

JOhn Wooden Award Checklist

out of the past 25 winners...

-Only 3 out of 25 have been freshman and each of those has been either the 1st or 2nd pick in the following NBA Draft

- 19 of the 25 have been on either a #1 or #2 seeded team for the NCAA tournament

- only 2 players have won who played on a team that was west of the Central time zone

Keeping these parameters in mind we have two players that we like for the award and think that you should consider betting them right now as the value may go down as the season goes on.


EJ Liddell
7/1 or Better

The one category that isn't working for Liddell, at least right now, is that Lunardi currently has Ohio State on the 4 seed line. They are a very good team though and are 13th in the country, if they continue to play well they could very well end up on that 2 line come March. Liddell is a junior so we can check that box off and he's not on the west coast either. And when we just look at this through a basketball lens, he is an absolute stud. 6' 7" and projected to be a late first rounder, he's averaging 20.6 pts 7.2 reb 2.7 ast and 3 blk per game. If he can keep those stat numbers up and rally Ohio State to a 2 or even a 3 seed in the tournament and make a run at the Big 10 he will have a real chance to win this award. Ohio State will also get a lot of nationally televised games playing in the Big 10 against quality competition that will give him a chance to really captivate people with his skills. He's very skills in post even though he's a little undersized, he's got a nice game from the high post as well, he can pop out and hit the 3, and he's a bulldog on defense who makes a lot of effort plays.


Ochai Abaji
10/1 or Better

Abaji is also projected to be a late first round pick for next year's NBA draft. He looks like he fits the mold of an NBA player a little bit better than Liddell however. He is a rangy guard with great size at 6'5" who can jump and has an impressive wingspan. He also has a sweet jumper that looks like it will definitely transfer to the next level. For this year however, we think he has a great shot at winning the John Wooden Award for player of the year. He checks off all three of our boxes as well with him playing on Kansas who Lunardi currently has on the 2 line, and they could easily be on the 1 line come tourney time, he's an upperclassman as a Senior, and he isn't on the west coast. He's 3rd in the country in scoring at 22 ppg and has been very consistent with his scoring even against elite teams so we think he can definitely keep it up. He's averaging close to 5 rebounds a game and lately his numbers have been increasing in that department, he's also averaging close to 1 steal a game but we think he can bump that up too. If he leads the NCAA in scoring this year and Kansas continues on the same path they are on then he will definitely get some serious consideration. At 10/1 we think this is a very good number. He's also physically impressive to watch, very tall and long with a great ability to finish around the hoop with finesse and power. Then he pops out and can really heat up from downtown. Kansas will obviously have a lot of huge games down the stretch so he will have plenty of spots to shine. 

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