Los Angeles — Western Kentucky University’s Courtney Lee was one of 50 college basketball players in the country to be recognized as a preseason candidate for the John R. Wooden Award, the Los Angeles Athletic Club’s Wooden Award committee announced Wednesday.
It’s the second straight year that the Indianapolis, Ind., native has been recognized by the organization.
In January, the Wooden Award committee will release the midseason Top 30 list, followed by the distribution of the national ballot to more than 1,000 voters in early March. The 10-player Wooden Award All-American Team will be announced the Tuesday after the “Elite Eight” round of the NCAA Tournament is completed. The list is composed of 50 student-athletes who, based on last year’s individual performance and team records, are the early frontrunners for the trophy. The top 50 candidates are comprised of returning players — transfers, freshmen, and medical redshirts are not eligible for this preseason list, but will be evaluated and considered for both the midseason Top 30 list and the national ballot.
Lee was also selected preseason first-team all-Sun Belt Conference at the beginning of the week at the league’s media days, and he has been honored in numerous preseason magazines.
Last season, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound senior was a first-team National Association of Basketball Coaches all-district and all-conference honoree after averaging 17.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, adding 57 assists, 45 steals and 23 blocks. Lee shot 47.2 percent from the floor, hit 40.1 percent from three-point range and converted 84 percent at the foul line while finishing in the top 15 in the Sun Belt rankings in seven different statistical categories.
Actually, he finished the year ranked 58th in free-throw percentage and 86th in scoring in the nation.
Lee was named first-team all-SBC and second-team NABC all-district as a sophomore, and he was the league’s 2005 Freshman of the Year. He has been voted to the all-conference tournament team twice in his first three years on the Hill, and was also a two-time Sun Belt player of the week last winter.
He is one of 12 players in school history to score 1,500 points, entering his final campaign with 1,503, while he is among the top five in the school’s career record books with an 81.4 free-throw percentage (first), 177 steals (third), 176 three-pointers (fourth) and a 40.3 three-point field-goal percentage (also fourth).
Lee begins his final year 20th in steals and 23rd in three-pointers in Sun Belt Conference history.
The Wooden Award is named for the three-time college basketball All-American, 1932 Player of the Year at Purdue and 10-time national championship coach at UCLA.