January 18, 2012 12:18:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- Arnett Moultrie is starting to get some of spotlight his teammates knew he deserved from day one.
Tuesday the Bulldogs junior forward was named one of 25 finalists for the John Wooden Award - given to the best player in college basketball that season.
"It's happened really quick but it shows all the hard work is starting to pay off and show," Moultrie said. "I'm real comfortable and embracing the moment while trying to stay humble."
NOTE: The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog wants to thank Brandon Marcello of the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger for acting as the pool reporter interviewer of Moultrie after MSU was done with practice Tuesday.
Moultrie is leading the team in scoring at 16.5 points per game and 16.1 points and was tabbed tabbed as the Southeastern Conference player of the week Monday.
"If he was at North Carolina, he would probably be a first-team All-American," MSU freshman guard Rodney Hood said two weeks ago. "I was just talking to the team about that (Thursday) night that schools that are bigger get the media spotlight. The problem is I haven't seen a power forward that I would rather play with."
The 6-foot-11 transfer from the University of Texas at El Paso is also tops in the league in rebounding (10.9 per game) while his nine double-doubles are tied for the most with Kentucky center Anthony Davis.
"I think guys' game plans is to keep me off the boards and double team once I get the ball in the block," Moultrie said. "That's something I'm going to have to grow from and handle and continue to grind it out in SEC play."
Davis and Kentucky's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (who were also on both named as Wooden finalists) are the early season top candidates for SEC player of the year consideration.
"I think at the end of the day you don't worry about all that, your stats will take care of it," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said two weeks ago. "The key to that is the success of your team. The more your team wins the more you're going to get noticed as an individual, that's the whole key. I think everybody that's played against Arnett or seen him play, they have a pretty good feel for him and what he is."
Here's the full list of Wooden Award finalists (alphabetical order):
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Will Barton, Memphis
William Buford, Ohio State
Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Marcus Denmon, Missouri
Draymond Green, Michigan State
John Henson, North Carolina
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette
Kevin Jones, West Virginia
Perry Jones III, Baylor
Kris Joseph, Syracuse
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
Damian Lillard, Weber State
Scott Machado, Iona
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Doug McDermott, Creighton
Mike Moser, UNLV
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Mike Scott, Virginia
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Cody Zeller, Indiana
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5. Works in Wood exhibit opens today in West Point ENTERTAINMENT