Per Duke Sports Information:
Duke sophomore Matthew Hurt and freshman Jalen Johnson have been named to the Preseason Top 50 Watch List for the John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s.
Chosen by a preseason poll of national college basketball experts, the list is comprised of 50 student-athletes who are early front-runners for the most prestigious honor in college basketball, the Wooden All American Team and Most Outstanding Player Award. Duke is one of 11 programs nationally with multiple players selected to the watch list.
A native of Rochester, Minn., Hurt appeared in all 31 games during the 2019-20 campaign, making 22 starts. He averaged 9.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per contest and reached double figures in scoring 17 times. A threat from the perimeter, Hurt’s .393 percent from three-point range was the 10th-best by a Duke freshman in program history. For the season, he shot .487 from the field and .741 at the free throw line. Hurt was named ACC Freshman of the Week following a career-high 25 points in a win over Boston College on Dec. 31.
The BC performance was one of 10 double-digit scoring efforts in ACC play for Hurt, who also went for 22 in a win over Miami, 16 each against Louisville and Virginia Tech, and 12 each against Syracuse, Florida State, Notre Dame and Wake Forest. The forward increased both his field goal percentage (.492) and three-point accuracy (.408) during ACC play.
Earlier in the offseason, Hurt was named to the Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year Award watch list, the Jersey Mike’s Naismith Trophy watch list, and was ranked as the No. 22 player in the nation by CBS Sports.
Johnson arrived in Durham as the No. 12-rated player in ESPN 100’s rankings for the class of 2020. The 6-9 Milwaukee native was the top-ranked prospect in the state of Wisconsin, and averaged 24.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists in nine games during his senior year at Nicolet High School. He joined Hurt on the Naismith Trophy watch list, and was additionally named a Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award candidate as well as a Preseason All-ACC First Team selection.
Johnson was recently named the ACC Freshman of the Week for his efforts in Duke’s season-opening win over Coppin State last Saturday. He scored 19 points, grabbed 19 rebounds, had five assists and four blocked shots in 35 minutes, becoming the first Duke player in history to post a stat line of 19+ points, 19+ rebounds, 5+ assists and 4+ blocks.
The Wooden Award has been presented to a Duke men’s basketball player six times in its 44-year history – the most by any program nationally. The Blue Devils’ most recent winner was Zion Williamson in 2019.
Players not chosen to the preseason list are still eligible for the Wooden Award midseason list, late season list, and the National Ballot. The National Ballot consists of 15 top players who have proven to their universities that they meet or exceed the qualifications of the Wooden Award. Nearly 1,000 voters will rank in order 10 of those 15 players when voting opens prior to the NCAA Tournament and will allow voters to take into consideration performance during early round games.
The Wooden Award All American Team will be announced the week of the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the 2021 John R. Wooden Award will be presented by Wendy’s following the NCAA Tournament in April.
Duke’s John R. Wooden Award Winners
Christian Laettner – 1992 – Senior
Elton Brand – 1999 – Sophomore
Shane Battier – 2001 – Senior
Jason Williams – 2002 – Junior
J.J. Redick – 2006 – Senior
Zion Williamson – 2019 – Freshman