WICHITA, Kansas — Wichita State seniors Ron Baker, Anton Grady and Fred VanVleet have landed on preseason watch lists for the Jerry West, Karl Malone and Bob Cousy Awards, respectively.
Tuesday morning, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame released a list of 20 leading candidates for each of its five major men’s basketball honors, given annually to Division I college basketball’s top point guard (Cousy Award), shooting guard (West Award), small forward (Julius Erving Award), power forward (Malone Award) and center (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award).
In 2015, Baker – a senior from Scott City, Kan. – was one of five finalists for the inaugural West Award and led the fan portion of the final voting. A Sporting News preseason first team All-American, Baker is coming off a standout junior season that saw him average a team-high 14.7 points.
Grady – a fifth-year senior transfer from Cleveland State – was one of the elite frontcourt players in the Horizon League before arriving at WSU. Last season he averaged 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds, earning first team all-conference honors and all-defensive team status.
VanVleet – a senior from Rockford, Ill. – is on the Cousy Watch List for the third-straight year. He’s been selected as a finalist in each of the past two seasons and was also the top vote getter in the fan portion of the balloting. A Sporting News second team preseason All-American, VanVleet has ranked in the top-10 nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio in each of the past two seasons, and his 95 career wins rank second nationally among active players.
Watch Lists for all five awards will narrow to 10 in mid-February and to five finalists in March. The winners – determined by a Hall of Fame appointed selection committee – will be announced at ESPN’s College Basketball Awards Show, live from Club Nokia in Los Angeles, on Friday, April 8, 2016.
Now in its 13th year, the Cousy Award is named for Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic and Holy Cross point guard, Bob Cousy. Utah’s Delon Wright won the honor in 2015.
Other past Cousy Award winners include: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut (2014), Trey Burke, Michigan (2013), Kendall Marshall, North Carolina (2012), Kemba Walker, Connecticut (2011), Greivis Vasquez, Maryland (2010), Ty Lawson, North Carolina (2009), DJ Augustin, Texas (2008), Acie Law, Texas A & M (2007), Dee Brown, Illinois (2006), Raymond Felton, North Carolina (2005) and Jameer Nelson, St. Joseph’s (2004).
The West Award, named after Hall of Famer and 1959 NCAA Final Four Most Valuable Player, Jerry West, honors the nation’s top shooting guard. Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell was the inaugural winner in 2015.
The Malone Award also made its debut last spring, with Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell taking the honor of top power forward. It is named for Hall of Famer and two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, Karl Malone.
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the city where basketball was invented, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the game of basketball at every level – professional, collegiate and high school, for both men and women on the global stage.