The ballot for the most wide-open race for the John R. Wooden Award in years will be announced today, but four players who are candidates for other national awards are missing because their schools did not certify that they met academic requirements.
Syracuse freshman Carmelo Anthony -- expected to turn professional after only one season -- Georgia junior forward Jarvis Hayes, Kentucky senior guard Keith Bogans and St. Joseph's junior guard Jameer Nelson were omitted from the ballot.
The Wooden Award requires a cumulative 2.0 grade-point average for eligibility.
In 1995, Maryland's Joe Smith, winner of the Associated Press and Naismith player of the year awards, was eliminated from the Wooden race because of the academic requirement. UCLA's Ed O'Bannon won the award.
Last season, the academic requirement -- an element Wooden decided on at the award's inception -- eliminated Sam Clancy of USC from contention for the award as well as for the 10-player Wooden All-America team.
"We can just say the universities felt they couldn't send a letter guaranteeing the criteria, and the national advisory board can't put a player on the ballot unless they have a letter from the university," said Duke Llewellyn, founder and chairman of the award, presented by the Los Angeles Athletic Club since 1977.
"That's just the way it is. I told Coach Wooden about the guys, and he said, 'Well, that's the way we created the award.' "
The list of candidates: Mario Austin of Mississippi State, Troy Bell of Boston College, Steve Blake of Maryland, Matt Bonner of Florida, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich of Kansas, Brian Cook of Illinois, Chris Duhon of Duke, T.J. Ford of Texas, Reece Gaines of Louisville, Jason Gardner and Luke Walton of Arizona, Josh Howard of Wake Forest, Brandin Knight of Pittsburgh, Kyle Korver of Creighton, Emeka Okafor of Connecticut, Hollis Price of Oklahoma, Ron Slay of Tennessee, Mike Sweetney of Georgetown, Chris Thomas of Notre Dame, Dwyane Wade of Marquette and David West of Xavier.
"I've never seen it as close as this," Llewellyn said.
The winner, determined by a vote of more than 1,000 college basketball experts who may cast ballots as late as the Monday before the Final Four, will be announced April 12 in a ceremony broadcast live on CBS.