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The Los Angeles Athletic Club has announced Duke freshman Paolo Banchero to the John R. Wooden Award presented by Wendy’s Late Season Top 20 Watch List.

Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts based on their performances during the 2021-22 season thus far, the list comprises of 20 student-athletes who are front-runners for the sport’s most prestigious honor.

All 20 players on the Wooden Watch were named to the Wooden Award Midseason Top 25 in January. Banchero is one of three freshmen included on the Late Season Top 20, joining Auburn’s Jabari Smith and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren. The Seattle, Wash., native is watch list’s only member from an ACC program.

Banchero is coming off his sixth overall and third consecutive ACC Freshman of the Week honor, and has been instrumental in the Blue Devils’ current four-game winning streak. Over his last five outings, the rookie is averaging a double-double at 17.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per game with 3.6 assists. In Monday night’s win at Notre Dame, he netted a game-high 21 points, with 14 in the second half, while grabbing nine boards and blocking a shot in a dominant defensive effort by Duke.

The 6-foot-10 forward leads all true freshmen nationally in scoring (17.8), is third in rebounding (8.3) and third in field goal percentage (.496). He has reached double figures in every game, including 20-point performances in marquee contests against then-No. 10 Kentucky on Nov. 9 and then-No. 1 Gonzaga on Nov. 26.

Players not chosen to the late season list are still eligible for the Wooden Award 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 2022 John R. Wooden Award will be presented by Wendy’s following the NCAA Tournament in April.

The award has been presented to a Duke men’s basketball player six times in its 45-year history – the most by any program nationally. The Blue Devils’ most recent winner was Zion Williamson in 2019.

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

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