Cauley-Stein, a 7-foot junior center, has started all 16 games for the top ranked Wildcats (16-0, 3-0 SEC) averaging 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds while establishing himself as one of the nation’s best defenders with 31 blocked shots and 27 steals.
The Olathe, Kan., native has recorded a pair of doble-doubles this season, including a career-high 21 points and 12 rebounds in a win over then-No. 6 Texas.
The list of 25 was announced on ESPN's SportsCenter and on ESPN.com. Chosen by a poll of national college basketball experts, the it is comprised of 25 student-athletes who are the frontrunners based on their performances during the first half of the 2014-15 season. Cauley-Stein was joined by fellow SEC big men Jordan Mickey of LSU and Bobby Portis of Arkansas.
The leading candidates will be paired to 20 in early February and to 15 prior to the NCAA Tournament. Voting will allow consideration for the opening rounds of the NCAA tourney.
Created in 1976, the Wooden Award is widely considered the most prestigious individual honor in college basketball. Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84), Tim Duncan (’97) and Kevin Durant (’09).