Brothers Malik and Keeran Sampson will both chase starting spots in the IMCA Hobby Stock main event at Super Nationals XXXV.Brothers Malik and Keeran Sampson are both Super Nationals veterans, Malik as a driver,Brothers Malik and Keeran Sampson will both chase starting spots in the IMCA Hobby Stock main event at Super Nationals XXXV.Keeran as a spectator.This year, both Worthington, Minn., hotshoes are running for starting spots in Saturday’s big Hobby Stock dance.Malik has qualified for the main event in three of his four previous trips to Boone, with a career best finish of seventh last year.“I like the atmosphere here. Super Nationals is fun and it’s challenging. I start to get nervous about three weeks beforehand,” he said. “This year I asked Keeran why he didn’t bring his car along. He was going to be buying a pit pass, anyway.”“I ran hot laps yesterday,” said Keeran, acknowledging that Boone was a different track than what he was used to. “Any time you go up against this many cars you never know what’s going to happen but I’m looking forward to racing here.”He also wouldn’t mind matching the accomplishment of neighbor to the south Elijah Zevenbergen and win a Super Nationals championship in his first competitive visit to Boone.
Junior forward Chimezie Metu squares up to a Cal State Fullerton defender in a game at the Galen Center. Photo by Katie Chin | Daily TrojanBoth senior guard Jordan McLaughlin and junior forward Chimezie Metu took spots on a list of the 50 top candidates for the 2018 John Wooden Award. The list, which was released on Tuesday, was based on a preseason poll of the national NCAA basketball experts who will vote on the award at the end of the season.McLaughlin has been a captain for the Trojans for three years, and he is expected to strongly lead the No. 10 ranked squad this season. He is currently ranked second on the program’s all-time assists list with 457 and is well on track to set the record this year. Last season, McLaughlin averaged 12.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists. He ranks first in career assists and career steals, second in career points and third in career 3-pointers made among all players returning to the Pac-12 for this season.Metu is an equally vital player for the Trojans, starting all 36 games last season while averaging 14.8 points and 7.8 rebounds. He came alive in the final 13 games of the season, spiking to an average of 16.9 points and 8.2 rebounds and starring in the Trojans’ postseason run.The Wooden Award recognizes the top player in men’s college basketball every year. Last year’s recipient was Frank Mason III, an All-American guard for the Kansas Jayhawks who also picked up AP Player of the Year, the Naismith Award and the USA Today Player of the Year Award.Polling for this year’s award will continue throughout the season, and players not selected for the preseason list can still make their way into finalist contention. The organization will release a midseason list and late season list before releasing the top 15 players in the National Ballot during postseason play.