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Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray only freshmen on Wooden watch list

Experience reigns on this year's Wooden Award midseason top 25 list, but one LSU freshman stands out.

Ben Simmons, the projected No. 1 pick in this summer's NBA draft, is the most notable name on the list, which was released Wednesday. Only he and Kentucky's Jamal Murray represent this year's freshman class, a decrease from the five first-year players who made the midseason top 25 list last season.

Michigan State star Denzel Valentine, Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and North Carolina's Brice Johnson are three of the 14 seniors who made the midseason list.

Valentine returned from injury in Michigan State's win at Penn State on Sunday. Hield earned an ovation from the Kansas crowd after he scored 46 points in last week's triple-overtime loss to the Jayhawks. And Johnson recorded 39 points and 23 rebounds in a recent road win over Florida State.

Providence junior Kris Dunn is one of the 11 non-seniors on the list.

For the second year in a row, Wichita State's Fred VanVleet and Virginia's Anthony Gill did not make the midseason list. But all players are eligible for the final list, which will be released in March. That includes Villanova standout Josh Hart, who is averaging 15.9 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

During the 2012-13 season, former Indiana star Victor Oladipo did not make the midseason list but finished second to Trey Burke in the final Wooden Award vote.

The Wooden Award will be presented during the weekend of April 7-9 as part of ESPN's College Basketball Awards show. The men's and women's Wooden All-American teams will be honored as well. Tubby Smith, head coach at Texas Tech, will receive the 2016 Legends of Coaching award.