The Bruins’ four-year starter is averaging 17.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, making him a contender for national player of the year.
The regular season is about to wrap up, and the Bruins’ top star continues to garner serious recognition.
The 15 members of the national ballot for the John R. Wooden Award were revealed Saturday morning exclusively on ESPN’s College GameDay, and UCLA men’s basketball guard/forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. made the cut. Jaquez has been in the running since the start of the year, making the preseason watch list, the midseason watch list and the late season watch list.
Joining Jaquez on the national ballot are North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, Detroit’s Antoine Davis, Purdue’s Zach Edey, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis, Kansas State’s Keyontae Johnson, TCU’s Mike Miles, Iowa’s Kris Murray, Penn State’s Jalen Pickett, Houston’s Marcus Sasser, Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, Kentucky’s Oscar Tschiebwe, Arizona’s Azuolas Tubelis and Kansas’ Jalen Wilson and Miami’s Isaiah Wong.
Jaquez is one of two Pac-12 players in contention for the honor alongside Tubelis.
The Camarillo, California, native is leading UCLA with 17.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, and he ranks second on the team with 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. Jaquez is averaging career highs in every major count stat, in addition to shooting a career-best 48.7% from the field.
Jaquez has appeared in all 30 of the Bruins games so far this season and scored double figures in 27, leading the team to a 26-4 record, a Pac-12 regular season title and nine consecutive top-10 rankings in the process.
The 6-foot-6 wing is towards the top of the Pac-12 leaderboards in several categories, ranking No. 4 in points per game, No. 5 in rebounds per game, No. 5 in steals per game, No. 3 in player efficiency rating, No. 1 in win shares, No. 2 in offensive win shares, No. 2 in defensive win shares and No. 2 in win shares per 40 minutes.
Jaquez took things to the next level in February, scoring 20-plus points in six of the Bruins’ last eight games. Jaquez is also averaging 9.7 rebounds per game since Jan. 12, and he is shooting 37.9% from 3-point range since Jan. 1.
In Bart Torvik’s updated analytics-based national player of the year rankings, Jaquez is at No. 10. Just since the start of conference play, however, Jaquez ranks No. 5.
Jaquez is also contending for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the Naismith College Player of the Year Award and the Julius Erving Award, as well as Pac-12 Player of the Year.
Another prestigious honor
While Jaquez was named a finalist for the Wooden Award during ESPN’s broadcast, one Bruin actually won an award Saturday morning.
Coach Mick Cronin won GameDay’s Best Dressed College Coach of the Year Award, sending in a selfie video of an acceptance speech from his backyard. Cronin is one of several college coaches who has returned to wearing full suits during games, despite sweatsuits and quarterzips becoming more common during the COVID-19 pandemic.