New Mexico Pair Named to Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 List

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LOS ANGELES - New Mexico senior guard Kendall Williams and junior center Alex Kirk have both been named to the preseason Wooden Award Watch List, announced Tuesday by the The Los Angeles Athletic Club. The list, chosen by a preseason poll of national college basketball experts, is comprised of 50 student-athletes who are the early front-runners for the sport's most prestigious honor.

New Mexico was one of seven programs to have two student-athletes selected to the list, joining defending NCAA Champion Louisville, Baylor, Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee and UCLA.

The players on the list are considered strong candidates for the midseason list and the official voting ballot, which will consist of approximately 20 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. The Wooden Award All-American Team, consisting of the nation's top 10 players, will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament.

Williams and Kirk both were invited to the World University Games tryout camp in Colorado Springs this summer, with Kirk making the squad that finished ninth in Russia this summer. Both players were selected as preseason Mountain West All-Conference team members, and Williams was the Preseason Player of the Year after winning the 2012-13 Player of the Year Award and earning honorable mention Associated Press All-America honors.

The 38th annual Wooden Award ceremony will honor the Men's and Women's Wooden Award winners, and will include the presentation of the Wooden Award All-American Teams. The event will take place the weekend of April 11-12, 2014.

Created in 1976, the John R. Wooden Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. It is bestowed upon the nation's best player at an institution of higher education who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation and maintaining a minimum cumulative 2.0 GPA. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (1979), Michael Jordan (1984), Tim Duncan (1997) and Kevin Durant (2009). Michigan's Trey Burke won the 2013 Wooden Award presented by Wendy's.

Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities' general scholarship fund in the names of the All-American recipients. The Award has also sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the Award's name. Additionally, the John R. Wooden Award partners with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) each year to host the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament. The day-long tournament, which brings together Special Olympic athletes and the All-Americans, takes place at The Los Angeles Athletic Club the weekend of the John R. Wooden Award Ceremony.

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Name Class Position Team
Jordan Adams So. G UCLA
Kyle Anderson So. G/F UCLA
Keith Appling Sr G Michigan State
Isaiah Austin So. C Baylor
Jahii Carson So. G Arizona State
Willie Cauley-Stein So. F Kentucky
Semaj Christon So. G Xavier
Aaron Craft Sr. G Ohio State
Sam Dekker So. F Wisconsin
Spencer Dinwiddie Jr. G Colorado
Cleanthony Early Sr. F Wichita State
Joel Embiid Fr. C Kansas
C.J. Fair Sr. F Syracuse
Aaron Gordon Fr. F Arizona
Jerian Grant Sr. G Notre Dame
Montrezl Harrell So. F Louisville
Gary Harris So. G Michigan State
Joe Harris Sr. G Virginia
Andrew Harrison Fr. G Kentucky
Tyler Haws Jr. G BYU
Andre Hollins Jr. G Minnesota
Rodney Hood So. F Duke
Joe Jackson Sr. G Memphis
Cory Jefferson Sr. F Baylor
Sean Kilpatrick Sr. G Cincinnati
James Michael McAdoo Jr. F North Carolina
Doug McDermott Sr. F Creighton
Mitch McGary So. F Michigan
Jordan McRae Sr. G Tennessee
Shabazz Napier Sr. G Connecticut
Kevin Pangos Jr. G Gonzaga
Jabari Parker Fr. F Duke
Adreian Payne Sr. C Michigan State
Elfrid Payton Jr. G Louisiana
Dwight Powell Sr. F Stanford
Julius Randle Fr. F Kentucky
Juvonte Reddic Sr. F VCU
Glenn Robinson III So. F Michigan
LaQuinton Ross Jr. F Ohio State
Wayne Selden Jr. Fr. G Kansas
Marcus Smart So. G Oklahoma State
Russ Smith Sr. G Louisville
Jarnell Stokes Jr. F Tennessee
Rasheed Sulaimon So. G Duke
Noah Vonleh Fr. F Indiana
Dez Wells Jr. G/F Maryland
Andrew Wiggins Fr. G Kansas
James Young Fr. G Kentucky