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Wooden Award: Frank Kaminsky improved to earn honor and was nothing like Doug McDermott

Doug McDermott and Frank Kaminsky are the last two winners of the Wooden Award but their paths to that honor were nothing alike. To claim that they were is just silly.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky walked away with the 2015 Wooden Award on Friday night. It was the culmination of a career that saw him progress from bench piece that rarely saw the floor to the most important cog in the Badger machine that reached the NCAA Championship game.

His growth over four years was a very different path than the 2014 winner took to the award.

Creighton's Doug McDermott showed up at Creighton hitting shots from every spot on the floor and while he showed improvement in his basketball knowledge and floor leadership over his four seasons, he seemed destined for his crown during that initial year.

Only not everyone saw it that way, or at least, they didn't see his final two seasons in the same way that everyone else did.

This is about as lazy of a comparison as you can get. Two big white guys have great senior seasons, so their career arcs match up right?

Well, it would be nice if that were the case, or if Goodman hadn't written about Creighton's McDermott as one of the best players in the country before his junior season, the last year that Creighton was in the Missouri Valley. (Goodman wasn't the only one to say this either. McDermott seemed on pace for a big year according to a lot of people.)

What was clear when looking through the Google results of that season though was that Goodman didn't write much about McDermott after his season previews. There were mentions of the Bluejay star on player of the year candidate lists, and about how Goodman was actually pay to see McDermott play (which is odd if you don't consider him an amazing player to begin with). But there is nothing out there watching what McDermott did as he excited all of us watching the Valley on a daily basis.

There is nothing commenting on how he was a sleeper ready to breakout.

There was nothing giving an indication that McDermott was anything less than what we all saw him as: one of the best players in the country and a candidate for the postseason awards as a junior.

And that is just the eye test we are talking about. That says nothing about the stats that McDermott put up, you know, the things you could use to measure if he made such a dramatic improvement over those final two seasons.

























If you glance down the line, whether it is points, offensive rating, or win shares, it doesn't look like McDermott had very different seasons between his junior year and his senior year. In fact, the only stat where McDermott showed massive improve over those two seasons was the final one in the table, turnover rate. McDermott learned to hold onto the ball better, despite playing more minutes and handling the ball more often than he did as a junior.

He may have grown in his ability to lead a team, and his basketball IQ might have gotten better, but despite playing in an arguably tougher league -- although the defenses in the first season of the new Big East wouldn't have been that much better than what he had seen in the Valley -- McDermott was the same player.

Only now he wasn't playing in the Valley. He was playing in The Big East, a league that gets a little more attention even if it wasn't exactly the same makeup that it used to be.

There is nothing wrong with giving Kaminsky credit for his improvement over four seasons at Wisconsin. He played the ultimate antihero for one-and-done atmosphere that we play in. He deserves to be acknowledged for his progression.

But don't try and manufacture narrative that reaches back to Doug McDermott for your example. Why not talk about Nick Johnson who made big gains between his sophomore and junior years?

Don't choose a guy that was an All-American during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons, who won player of the year in his league as a junior, who could have been named as the best player in the country during that same season had voters not gone big school with Trey Burke. Don't choose a guy who you felt needed to jump to the NBA after his junior season because he had nothing left to prove and didn't have the same supporting cast that he had as a junior.

That doesn't help make your case.