Ayoka Lee named as a Top 20 finalist for the Wooden Award

Even with the ankle injury she suffered, Ayoka Lee found herself on the finalist list for the Wooden Award given to the best player in basketball.

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Molly Davis (1) drives to the basket as Kansas State Wildcats center Ayoka Lee (50) gets ready to go up for the block.
Iowa Hawkeyes guard Molly Davis (1) drives to the basket as Kansas State Wildcats center Ayoka Lee (50) gets ready to go up for the block. / Jonah Hinebaugh/Naples Daily News/USA
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Midseason award lists are coming out and Kansas State center Ayoka Lee is finding herself on a few of them. After being named to the Top 10 finalist list for the Lisa Leslie Award, Lee found herself on the Top 20 finalist list for the Wooden Award.

Before going down with an ankle injury, Lee was the leading scorer in the Big 12 averaging 19.8 points a game. Even with missing three games, Lee has only dropped to third place in scoring in the conference. She still leads the Big 12 in field goal percentage (0.677) and blocks (2.7) even with missing time.

Right now Lee is expected to be out for another three weeks. Lee suffered an ankle injury in the game against No. 10 Texas. Lee played the entire game with what would be an ankle fracture that was shown in an MRI a few days later. After a successful surgery, Lee was told she would be out for four weeks. Seen in a walking boot on the sideline of each game she has missed, Lee plans to be back just in time before the end of the season.

Lee found herself on a list highlighted with names such as Caitlyn Clark from Iowa, who won the Wooden Award in 2023, Angel Reese from LSU, and Paige Bueckers from UConn. Unfortunately, Lee will have a tough road to earning the award due to her injury, but being named to the finalist list is still an honor in itself.

Along with being named to the Lisa Leslie Award list and the Wooden Award list, Lee was also named to the Wade Trophy watch list award to the national player of the year. Looking at the schedule, I am speculating Lee will return to play on February 17 at home against UCF based on the timeline of when the team announced her injury and surgery. The senior center would play in the last five games of conference play giving her time to ramp up for postseason play.

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