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Kirk, Williams named to watch list

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The Los Angeles Athletic Club has announced its Preseason Top 50 today on ESPN.com, and University of New Mexico Lobo standouts Kendall Williams and Alex Kirk have both been named to the preseason Wooden Award Watch List.

The list, chosen by a preseason poll of national college basketball experts, is comprised of 50 student-athletes who are the early front-runners for the sport’s most prestigious honor.

AP preseason No. 1 Kentucky had the most players chosen to the list, four, including sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein and freshmen Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, and James Young. 

Williams and Kirk both were invited to the World University Games tryout camp in Colorado Springs this summer, with Kirk making the squad that finished ninth in Russia this summer.

Williams and Kirk were both preseason Mountain West All-Conference team members, and Williams was the Preseason Player of the Year as well as earning honorable mention Associated Press All-America honors. 

Both got off to good starts this season, as Williams scored 17 points with 7 assists and no turnovers against Alabama A&M Saturday, while Kirk had a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds to go along with two blocked shots.

The John R. Wooden Award is given to the nation’s best player at an institution of higher education.

 who has proven to his or her university that he or she is making progress toward graduation.

Previous winners include such notables as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan and Kevin Durant. 

Michigan’s Trey Burke won the 2013 Wooden Award.