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Wooden Award Odds Check-In: Part III, The Dark Horses

If you like value plays, you might want to bet on these three to make a sneaky run at the Wooden Award. PIC: UAB Athletics

We've gone over both the favorite and the underwhelmers of the group that's making a run at the Wooden Award for the 2022-2023 season. But, of course, nothing is ever a lock; could Zach Edey get hurt, could Brandon Miller start playing like a freshman again, and Drew Timme stop racking up the numbers he's up to? While all are unlikely, you never know.


Three dark horses have emerged in the quest for College Basketball's Best Player. Some have seen the national spotlight before, while are others are just enjoying the ride.


Let's take a look at three plays that you might consider if you are banking on the favorites falling out of the crowd.


Odds courtesy of VegasInsider.com (as of Jan 24, 10p ET). Please bet responsibly; call 1-800-GAMBLER if you have a gambling problem.


Part III: The Dark Horses


Terrence Shannon, Jr. - Illinois, Guard

Odds: +6000

Whether you're a Big 12 loyalist that wanted him to stay, or a close follower of NBA Draft prospects, you know Terrence Shannon. After three solid seasons at Texas Tech, he's raised his game to a new level in 2022-23. He's historically been slightly above average with the Red Raiders, but with his expanded role at Illinois, Shannon has become a top-level scorer with impressive passing skills to create for others. Between his smooth lefty shot & highlight-reel dunks, it's safe to say there are some eyes on Shannon this year. The question has seemed to pivot to how high Shannon will get selected in the 2023 NBA Draft. His defense, hustle plays, success in transition, and high basketball IQ are evidently there, but can he develop his three-point game or take on more forwards in the offensive paint?


As far as the Wooden Award goes, a bet on Shannon is a bet on him reversing his inconsistent ways. His season high of 26 came during a fifteen-point loss at home vs. Indiana, followed by his most complete game - a 25-point outburst against bottom-tier Nebraska, in which he chipped in 11 rebounds, too. Consistency is the name of the game for the Wooden Award; it's no question Terrence Shannon is at least top five in the field as far as athleticism & future NBA potential, but he'll have to reduce his "bad" games to be seriously considered.

Jalen Pickett - Penn State, Guard

Odds: UNLISTED

Despite being a dark horse, Jalen Pickett earned a spot on the Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 Watch List, which validates the monster season he's been having in his second year at Penn State. After three solid years at Siena, Pickett was purged by newly-minted Micah Shrewsberry (fresh off stints as the frontman to Matt Painter at Purdue, and Brad Stevens with the Boston Celtics), who calls the plays for the Nittany Lions. And in his new offensive scheme, Pickett is thriving.


Pickett has been one the best all-around players in the Big Ten this year. He's racking up about 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists per game - the only player in the country to eclipse an 18/8/7-per-game line. Not one single player in the last 30 years of the NCAA has met those marks. Pickett's field goal percentage of 51% and nearly 35% from downtown would be good enough to stand on their own, but his team-leading 23 steals and third-best 9 blocks aren't too shabby, either.


Micah Shrewsberry is certainly happy that Pickett is in Happy Valley. “I'm glad he's on my team...I think he's the best guard in the Big Ten. Every single night, no matter who we play against, just look at his numbers. The other night, I didn't think he played particularly well, he had 13 points and 17 rebounds. Tonight you look, 20 points, seven rebounds, six assists. He's filling up in every category...That's a warrior right there. And like I said, I'm glad he's on my side.”

Super-Dark Horse Jelly Walker - UAB, Guard

Odds: UNLISTED

If Jelly Walker wasn't hurt for the past couple of games, he could potentially be off the "Super Dark Horse" list and into the "Favorites" list. I very much believe that.


What's not to love about Jelly? The ex-Seton Hall role player moved on to Tulane after the 2017-18 season, redshirted in 2018-19 and immediately became an impact point guard for the Green Wave in the seasons to come. He tested the waters and went to UAB for the 2021-22 season, and it payed dividends immediately. Walker hit big shot after big shot in the C-USA Tournament in 2022, immediately won the C-USA Newcomer AND Player of the Year, and scored over 20 points per game. He's off to the races this year, second in the nation in points per game with nearly 24 PPG (but not enough to currently qualify as he hasn't played the league minimum). There's always merit to considering the nation's leading scorer for the Wooden Award.


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