The national ballot for the Wooden Award was released on Saturday, and Pitt star Justin Champagnie was not listed among the finalists for the prestigious honor despite earning a spot on the late-season watch list in February.
The release of the ballot saw the list of candidates cut down from 20 to 15. It also saw a new candidate enter the mix, as Ohio State power forward E.J. Liddell was added to the list of finalists. However, despite the fact that Champagnie maintained a double-double average since Dec. 9 and scored in double figures in all 19 of his games this season, he fell out of the running for the award.
Champagnie compares favorably to many on the list in terms of statistics. The Pitt small forward, who has played more like a power forward despite his 6’6”, 200-pound frame, averaged 18.4 points and 11.1 rebounds during the regular season. The only finalists for the award who averaged double-doubles were Western Kentucky center Charles Bassey and Illinois center Kofi Cockburn. Champagnie had better averages than Cockburn and outscored Bassey in a much stronger conference.
With that said, the key difference between Champagnie and those left standing for the individual honor appears to be the fact that he plays for a team with a losing record that does not happen to be a blue blood of the sport. Pitt finished the regular season with a 10-11 record. The only finalist on the national ballot for the award from a losing team is Indiana power forward Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Champagnie also fell out of the running for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award in late February, but he is still in contention for several other honors, such as the Karl Malone Award and ACC Player of the Year. The Pitt star is also expected to contend for All-ACC honors and All-America honors this season.