We are nearing the NCAA Tournament and for most teams, they’ve been able to give us an idea of how good they are. The same thing can be said for players, as they chase the National Player of the year award. While Luka Garza has probably put this race on ice, anything can happen, especially in a pandemic year where teams can go on shutdown at any moment. So I think now would be a good time to examine what players still have a chance at the award.
1.Luka Garza – Iowa
Luka Garza has been the clear best player in the sport because of his overall production. He is averaging 26.5 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, on 59.6% shooting from the floor, and 45.6% shooting from three. He is leading the sport in points per game by 4 points per game, which is ridiculous. Iowa is also in a position to get a really high seed in the NCAA Tournament, so it’s not like he’s just putting up empty stats either. Yeah, he’s not great defensively and teams can easily score against him due to his slow footwork, that being said, he gives so much offensively that it doesn’t matter.
The only realistic contenders
2.Jared Butler – Baylor
Whether you think Baylor or Gonzaga is the best team in the country, both can be the correct answer. As for who deserves to be #2 in the Player of the year race, I think it can be either Kispert or Butler and I went with Butler. Jared Butler is averaging 17 points and 5.2 assists per game while shooting 45% from three. He’s been especially good in conference play as he’s averaging 18.2 points per game in league play. Look for him to continue to play at an elite level for the Bears as they will try to complete a perfect season.
3.Corey Kispert – Gonzaga
Corey Kispert is right there with a chance to win the player of the year award as well and it is for good reason as he’s the best player on the team currently ranked #1 in College Basketball. Kispert is averaging 20.2 points per game on 48.6% shooting from three this season, which is fantastic. Kispert has been insanely good this season but the one thing going against him is the fact that Kispert and Gonzaga haven’t had a chance to remind us how good they are in a while, which is something destined to take away votes as these awards get voted on. He is a no doubt First-Team All-American selection.
4.Ayo Dosumnu – Illinois
The last of the clear four best players in College Basketball is Ayo Dosumnu, who is having a fantastic season for an Illinois team that is contending for a Big Ten title. Ayo is averaging 21.2 points, 4.6 assists, and 6.1 rebounds per game, while he’s shooting 41.1% from three (an area of concern for him in year’s past). Dosumnu is without a doubt Illinois’ best player, and he would be the Big Ten Player of the year if Garza were in another league.
Players that deserve mentioning
5.Cade Cunningham – Oklahoma State
Cade Cunningham isn’t going to win National Player of the year, but he will win National Freshman of the year if that’s good for anything. Cunningham is averaging 18.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game on an Oklahoma State team that will make the NCAA Tournament. Cunningham has transformed the Oklahoma State program and put it back on the map, while in the clutch he’s already hit two game-winners for the Cowboys this season.
6.Marcus Carr – Minnesota
Minnesota may not be able to win outside of the Barn but that doesn’t change the fact that Marcus Carr is having an outstanding season. He is averaging 20 points and 5.2 assists per game on a Minnesota team that has four Top-25 wins and two Top-10 wins. Carr might be inefficient in doing so but without him, Minnesota is not just outside the Top-25. Instead, they would be nowhere close to the NCAA Tournament.
7.Trayce Jackson-Davis – Indiana
Indiana is flirting with missing the NCAA Tournament once again but it is not at all because of Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is having an All-American level season. Jackson-Davis is averaging 20.1 points and 9 rebounds per game on 52.3% shooting from the field, which is very good. His consistent level of production deserves mentioning, even if Indiana is only 9-8 on the season.
8.Davion Mitchell – Baylor
Baylor may not have the National Player of the year but they have the Defensive Player of the year in Davion Mitchell. Mitchell is an absolute ball-hawk, who takes the opponents best guard out of the game, while he’s averaging 2.1 steals per game. Offensively he’s averaging 13.8 points and 5.8 assists per game on 49.4% shooting from three. His shooting, defense and passing combination might make him the most valuable player in College Basketball.
9.Drew Timme – Gonzaga
Gonzaga will have three All-Americans this season and Drew Timme will be one of them. Timme is having a really solid season as he’s averaging 18.7 points per game, while shooting 62% from the field. He’s not as exciting as Jalen Suggs but he’s very crafty at 6’10” and someone that Gonzaga can just throw the ball down low to and he’ll more than likely score. Sorry Sean, he’s not winning National Player of the year but he’ll be an All-American.
Honorable Mentions: Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga), Mac McClung (Texas Tech), Quentin Grimes (Houston), Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova), Herb Jones (Alabama)