The buzz surrounding Ricky Paulding is growing louder every day.
Named to the Wooden and Naismith Award watch lists, the Missouri guard is on everyone’s radar screen for player of the year honors. On Wednesday, Paulding earned a spot on the Associated Press preseason All-American list.
Paulding joins Emeka Okafor of Connecticut, Jameer Nelson of St. Joseph’s, Ike Diogu of Arizona State and Raymond Felton of North Carolina.
Paulding, a 6-foot-5 senior, is the second Tiger to earn preseason All-American honors in the past three years. Kareem Rush made the list as a junior before the 2001-02 season. Paulding will try to do what Rush could not and earn All-American honors after the season. Melvin Booker, another smooth scoring guard, was the most recent Tiger to be named to that team, after the 1993-94 season.
Paulding set career bests in almost all personal categories in the 2002-03 season. He led the Tigers with 17.4 points per game last year, but was named to the All-Big 12 Conference second team. It has been Paulding’s postseason accomplishments that have earned him national acclaim.
As a sophomore in 2001-02, Paulding took off from just inside the free-throw line and finished with a one-handed dunk against Ohio State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Paulding averaged 18.3 points in four tournament games, earning him All-West Regional honors. Last season, Paulding made the Big 12 All-Tournament team and scored 36 points in Missouri’s 101-92 loss to Marquette in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Paulding is Missouri’s all-time leading NCAA Tournament scorer with 18.1 points per game. A Detroit native, Paulding is No. 23 on the regular season all-time scoring list with 1,220 points. He needs 279 points to move into the top 10 and is likely to be in the top five by the end of the season.
Paulding and center Arthur Johnson played for the United States in this summer’s Pan American Games, leading the team to fourth. A stress fracture in his left wrist limited Paulding at the Games, but he started each game of the tournament, scoring 7.6 points per game.
Paulding scored 15 points in the No. 5 Tigers’ preseason win against Inter Hoop on Monday. The Tigers open the season Nov. 29 against Oakland in Auburn Hills, Mich.
JOHNSON HONORED: ESPN.com tabbed Johnson for its preseason All-American list Wednesday.
Okafor, Nelson, Felton and Diogu complete ESPN.com’s list. Johnson and Okafor are seen as the top centers in the country.
Paulding was named to the second team.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Tigers face Asheville of the NBA’s developmental league Tuesday. The Altitude has several players who had high-profile collegiate careers, including Lavor Postell, who starred at St. John’s, and Kareem Reid, who started four years at Arkansas.
Colorado graduate Jaquay Wells, who averaged 17 points as a senior with the Buffaloes in 1999-2000, also is on the Asheville roster.
Snyder said the matchup with Asheville will be a test for his Tigers.
“It has been our intent every year to play quality exhibition games,” he said. “Playing Asheville is an even greater challenge.”