MADISON, Wis. — Four months ago, Jared Berggren didn’t even make a list of one online media outlet’s top 50 big men in college basketball. Considering how far below the radar he has flown, his latest accomplishment is especially noteworthy.
Berggren, Wisconsin’s senior forward, has been selected as one of 30 finalists for the 2013 Naismith Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club has announced. The award is given annually to the college basketball player of the year.
Berggren’s game isn’t particularly flashy, but he has proven effective in leading Wisconsin to a No. 17 national ranking in this week’s Associated Press poll and helped the Badgers become a lock to make the NCAA Tournament. He has started all 27 games this season for the Badgers and leads the team in scoring (11.9 points per game) while ranking second in rebounding (7.0 rebounds). Berggren is one of just three players to rank among the Big Ten’s top 20 scorers and top 10 rebounders.
The senior from Princeton, Minn., also needs just two blocks to tie Rashard Griffith’s career blocks record of 124. On the season, Berggren ranks second in the Big Ten with 1.9 blocks per game.
This marks the third year in a row that a Wisconsin player has been selected as one of 30 finalists for the award. Jon Leuer (2011) and Jordan Taylor (2012) were previously recognized. The Naismith Trophy voting academy will narrow down the list of finalists to four in late March, and the player of the year will be awarded on April 7 in Atlanta.
The Badgers have had two players in school history be named a finalist for the award: Devin Harris (2004) and Alando Tucker (2007).
Back in October, Berggren was not featured among a CBSSports.com preseason list of the top 50 big men in the nation. And although he insisted at the time he didn’t care what others thought, he said the snub would remain in the back of his mind.
Berggren is one of six Big Ten players to be up for the honor. He joins Indiana’s Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas, Illinois’ Brandon Paul and Michigan’s Trey Burke on the list.
The full list of Naismith Award finalists is listed below:
Anthony Bennett, freshman forward, UNLV
Jared Berggren, senior forward, Wisconsin
Trey Burke, sophomore guard, Michigan
Isaiah Canaan, senior guard, Murray State
Michael Carter-Williams, sophomore guard, Syracuse