MANHATTAN, Kan. – Senior Rodney McGruder was named a preseason Top 50 candidate for the John R. Wooden Award by the Los Angeles Athletic Club on Thursday.
The Wooden list, which reflects the early frontrunners for one of college basketball’s Premier Player of the Year awards, is based on last year’s individual performance and team records. Transfers, freshmen and medical redshirts are not eligible for the preseason list. These players and others who excel during the season will be evaluated and considered for December’s Midseason list with the official voting ballot released in March.
McGruder becomes the first Wildcat named as a preseason Top 50 candidate for the Wooden Award since teammate Jacob Pullen was selected in 2010. One of just three unanimous Preseason All-Big 12 selections, McGruder looks to build on an impressive junior campaign, in which, he led the Wildcats in 11 categories, including scoring (15.8 ppg.), double-figure scoring (28), field goals (188), 3-point field goals (50) and free throws (97). He already ranks 21st in school history with 1,029 points. He was one of six Big 12 players selected to the list, which included Baylor’s Pierre Jackson, Kansas’ Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey and Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash.
McGruder is among seven players with starting experience returning for the Wildcats in 2012-13. Led by first-year head coach Bruce Weber, K-State returns 12 lettermen from a squad that posted a 22-11 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons in 2011-12. The Wildcats, who return more than 80 percent of their scoring, rebounding, assists, steals, blocks and minutes, were picked fifth by the league coaches in the Preseason Big 12 poll earlier this season.
K-State officially opens the Weber era on Friday by hosting North Dakota at 8 p.m. in the second game of a men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader at Bramlage Coliseum. The women’s team plays host to Idaho State in their season opener at 5:30 p.m. Men’s basketball ticket-holders may present their North Dakota ticket for early admission and sit in general admission seating for the women’s game.