The hunt for the best college basketball player in the country officially is on.
The first John R. Wooden Award watch list, released Tuesday, comprises 50 top players, representing eight conferences and 35 teams. Thirteen programs have more than one player on the list. Only two -- Kentucky and Indiana -- have three players on the list.
In a landscape apparently not as dominated by freshmen as prior seasons were, the early favorite may nonetheless be LSU's Ben Simmons, the 2015 class's top arrival, a preseason AP All-American, and the likely No. 1 overall pick in next summer's NBA draft.
Gonzaga senior forward Kyle Wiltjer, a fellow preseason All-American who averaged 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 54 percent shooting in 2014-15, is considered by many to be Simmons' chief competition -- if not the overall favorite.