Updated Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2:12 p.m. After tussling over the prospect of forgoing his final year of eligibility, rising senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu is seeing dividends from his decision to return to GW. The 6-foot-9 forward was named Tuesday to the Men’s 2005-2006 Wooden Award Preseason Top 50, widely considered to be one of the top honors in men’s college basketball.
The 50 players named to the list are the preseason candidates for the Wooden Award, one of the most prestigious honors in NCAA basketball, given to the nation’s top men’s college basketball player.
Along with the Associated Press’ All-American team, the Wooden committee also will release an All-American team at the close of the season. The list that was released on Monday will be reevaluated at the midpoint of the college basketball season for the Midseason Top 30 list and the final National Ballot. The Wooden and Associated Press All-American teams have equal standing in the college basketball community.
Mensah-Bonsu said he was unaware of the accolade until Tuesday night.
“It’s an honor,” Mensah-Bonsu said in a phone interview. “It’s something you aspire to as a young player, but I guess it doesn’t really hit you until you get named to the list.”
When he announced in late June his intention to return to GW, Mensah-Bonsu said the Colonials athletic department would promote him as an All-American.
“I knew it was possible, but I guess (the promoting) won’t be so hard now,” Mensah-Bonsu mused.
Although the season is still three months away, Mensah-Bonsu said the team is practicing daily. On Aug. 13, they will embark on a 10-day journey to Australia.
“We are waiting to see how we gel as a team,” Mensah-Bonsu said.
Joining the London native on the award list are Atlantic 10 players Mardy Collins (Temple), Steven Smith (La Salle) and Curtis Withers (Charlotte). The University of Illinois’ Dee Brown and Duke University’s J.J. Redick, both Wooden All-Americans last season, were named to the list for the second time. Also making an appearance on the list is Georgetown’s Brandon Bowman, Nick Caner-Medley of Maryland, and Justin Gray and Eric Williams of Wake Forest University.