This year, for the first time since its inception, the presentation of the John R. Wooden took place away from the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The Award was presented as part of the inaugural ESPN College Basketball Awards Show presented by Wendy’s, which took place at Club Nokia at LA Live in downtown Los Angeles and was televised on ESPN2. Frank Kaminsky of Wisconsin and Breanna Stewart of Connecticut won the men’s and women’s John R. Wooden Award, respectively. The Wooden Award All American teams were also honored during the show along with San Diego State head men’s basketball coach Steve Fisher, who was presented the Legends of Coaching award. In addition, the Basketball Hall of Fame presented the inaugural positional awards, recognizing the top player of each position in college basketball.
The Wooden Award All Americans that were invited to Los Angeles were: Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Jerian Grant (Notre Dame), Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), Jahlil Okafor (Duke), D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State), Nina Davis (Baylor), Jewell Lloyd (Notre Dame), Tiffany Mitchell (South Carolina), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (Connecticut) and Breanna Stewart (Connecticut).
During John R. Wooden Award Weekend, the men’s and women’s Wooden Award All American teams arrived in Los Angeles after the conclusion of the NCAA Tournament. On Thursday, the players and guests were welcomed to the Los Angeles Athletic Club with a rooftop reception prior to the annual Duke’s Dinner to kick off the weekend. On Friday, before the show, the Wooden Award All Americans went on the Players’ Experience, highlighted by a visit to Staples Center and the ESPN Sports Nation set and lunch at The Standard. On Saturday, the players served as coaches for the Wooden Award Special Olympics Southern California Basketball Tournament.
Founded at the Los Angeles Athletic Club in 1976 by former athletic director, Duke Llewellyn, the John R. Wooden Award is presented annually to the most outstanding player in men’s and women’s college basketball. The Women’s Award was established in 2004. Past winners include: Larry Bird (1979), Michael Jordan (1984), Tim Duncan (1997), Kevin Durant (2007), and Candace Parker (2007 & 2008). The winners are selected based on the criteria established by the Award’s founders, including the values of Coach Wooden and a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 or higher throughout the candidate’s college career. Since its inception, the John R. Wooden Award has contributed close to a million dollars to universities’ general scholarship fund in the names of the All-American recipients. The Award has also sent more than 1,000 underprivileged children to week-long college basketball camps in the Award’s name.