Last week saw the John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame whittle down their lists for their respective national player of the year awards. Indeed, college basketball’s regular season is nearly over.
In fact, four weeks from Thursday the 2018 NCAA Tournament will be underway, and presumably the best players in the country will be in action, trying to help their teams win a national title. In the process they’ll be attempting to solidify their resumes for those player of the year awards.
A lot can still change in a month, but this is where DieHards sees things in the POY race right now.
NOTE: Records and statistics through games of Wednesday, Feb. 14.
Jevon Carter, West Virginia: Carter is the leading scorer and assist man and the best defender on the Mountaineers. His 81 steals lead Division I. The 6-foot-2 senior guard is averaging 15.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 2.7 steals per game against Big 12 foes.
Vincent Edwards, Purdue: Purdue doubled its season loss total this last week in falling to Ohio State and Michigan State. Edwards was just 6 of 23 from the field in the two games. Nonetheless, the 6-foot-7 senior forward is still shooting 41.2 percent from 3-point range and hasn’t had more than 2 turnovers in a game just twice since Dec. 16.
Devonte’ Graham, Kansas: Graham has been so integral to Kansas that coach Bill Self cannot take him off the court, playing the 6-2 senior guard all 40 minutes in each of the Jayhawks’ last nine games. He’s averaged 15.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.9 assists in that span.
Aaron Holiday, UCLA: Holiday leads the Pac-12 in scoring in conference play, at 20.5 points per game, and his 5.5 assists per game are third-best in league action. The 6-1 junior guard somehow got left off both the Wooden and Naismith late-season lists.
10. Luke Maye, North Carolina
Season statistics: 18.3 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.3 BPG, 51.7 FG%, 46.4 3-pt FG%, 63.0 FT%
Luke Maye has cooled off from his fiery start but the 6-foot-7 junior forward is still faring much better than anyone expected this season. He’s still averaging a double-double in ACC play (18.2 points, 10.3 rebounds) and he had one of his biggest games Saturday in a win at North Carolina State with 33 points with 17 rebounds.
Maye is getting more help than earlier in the season when he was practically carrying North Carolina. That, in turn, has lowered his production at times. But he’s still managed five 20-point games in conference play and he’s been a big part of the Tar Heels’ four-game win streak to keep them in line for a top-4 finish and a first-round ACC Tournament bye.
9. Miles Bridges, Michigan State
Season statistics: 17.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 48.3 FG%, 37.4 3-pt FG%, 89.0 FT%
Miles Bridges has a lot more help this season than during his freshman campaign, resulting in slightly lower numbers. The assistance he’s gotten from fellow sophomores Nick Ward and Cassius Winston as well as freshman Jaren Jackson Jr. has been immensely helpful, but this is still Bridges’ team and he’s going to determine how far Michigan State goes in March.
The 6-7 wing showed that last weekend when he had 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting in a win against Purdue. His pull-up 3-pointer in the final minute proved to be the difference and gave him seven games of 20 or more points in Big Ten play.
8. Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State
Season statistics: 19.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.6 BPG, 50.8 FG%, 36.8 3-pt FG%, 81.8 FT%
Chris Holtmann is a top contender for national coach of the year honors for what he’s accomplished in his first season at Ohio State, particularly after not getting hired until June. But it also helps to have someone the likes of Keita Bates-Diop playing to his full potential — and staying healthy.
The 6-7 junior forward has paced the Buckeyes to a Big Ten-best 13-1 conference record including a win at Purdue last week in which he had 18 points and 11 rebounds. In conference play he’s averaging 20.9 points and 9.4 rebounds with six of his 11 double-doubles.
7. Keenan Evans, Texas Tech
Season statistics: 18.7 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.4 SPG, 49.2 FG%, 33.6 3-pt FG%, 83.4 FT%
When the Big 12 season began in late December it seemed like the team (or player) with the best shot to dethrone perennial champ Kansas was Oklahoma’s Trae Young. Instead it looks like it’s going to be Keenan Evans, who has Texas Tech a game up on the Jayhawks with five to go.
Evans, a 6-3 senior guard, has had some monster games during the Red Raiders’ seven-game win streak that’s propelled them into first place. He had 26 points against Oklahoma on Tuesday and had back-to-back 30-point games in late January. He is averaging 24.6 points during the streak.
6. Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s
Season statistics: 22.0 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.1 BPG, 65.8 FG%, 74.0 FT%
If a player’s name impacted his player-of-the-year chances — it really should — then Jock Landale might be the front-runner. While that might be what caused people to first notice him, they’ve stuck around to see how much the 6-11 senior center has improved in his career.
Landale only started one game in his first two seasons at Saint Mary’s but he’s been the Gaels’ leading scorer the last two. In 2017-18 he’s main reason Saint Mary’s had a 19-game win streak until losing Saturday at home to West Coast Conference rival Gonzaga, a game in which he had a season-low 4 points on 2-of-4 shooting after averaging 24.2 points in the first 13 WCC games.
5. Marvin Bagley III, Duke
Season statistics: 21.2 PPG, 11.4 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 59.6 FG%, 35.4 3-pt FG%, 62.0 FT%
A right knee sprain caused Marvin Bagley III to miss the Blue Devils’ 22-point win against Virginia Tech on Wednesday, the second straight game he’s sat out. Duke won both contests, the other at Georgia Tech on Sunday, but his absence certainly was felt.
How could it not when a team doesn’t have access to a 6-11 freshman forward who has 18 double-doubles in 24 games played. While the rest of Duke’s talented group of youngsters (as well as senior guard Grayson Allen) have all had their bouts of inconsistency, Bagley has been a model of stability with at least 12 points and 7 rebounds in every ACC game he’s played.
In comparison, replacement Marques Bolden totaled 8 points in 41 minutes in two starts.
4. DeAndre Ayton, Arizona
Season statistics: 19.5 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.8 BPG, 60.4 FG%, 73.8 FT%
DeAndre Ayton had the worst game of his brief college career from a statistical standpoint last Thursday, going 7 of 19 from the field in Arizona’s home loss to UCLA. That game was the exception of an unstoppable campaign for the 7-1 freshman center this season.
Ayton, who has 16 double-doubles, would likely be scoring much more if Arizona also didn’t have a high-volume producer in junior guard Allonzo Trier (19.6 points per game). But the Wildcats still try to have as many possessions as possible go through the big man, who averages 12.7 shots per game but in the last three contests has attempted 51.
3. Jalen Brunson, Villanova
Season statistics: 20.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, 0.8 SPG, 54.5 FG%, 44.8 3-pt FG%, 80.0 FT%
Villanova has dropped two of three after a 22-1 start, losing Wednesday at Providence a week after falling at home to last-place St. John’s. Losing junior guard Phil Booth to a broken hand has made a difference, not just in depth but how Jalen Brunson has had to change his game.
The 6-3 junior guard has averaged 15.7 shots in the six games since Booth was injured, shooting 48.9 percent overall but just 10 of 33 from 3-point range. But because Brunson is so adept at getting to the line he’s still managed to average 23.3 points in that span thanks to 38-of-43 foul shooting.
Brunson is on pace to be Villanova’s highest scorer since Michael Bradley averaged 20.8 per game in 2000-01.
2. Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
Season statistics: 18.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.8 APG, 45.3 FG%, 42.6 3-pt FG%, 81.9 FT%
Xavier has won nine straight heading into its Saturday showdown with Villanova, which will likely determine who wins the Big East title. It could also help decide the conference’s player of the year award between Trevon Bluiett and Brunson, an honor that is looking more and more like it belongs to the Musketeers senior guard.
The 6-6 Bluiett had 37 points thanks to 8-of-11 3-point shooting Wednesday against Seton Hall, his second 30-point game in the last four outings. During Xavier’s win streak he’s averaging 21.0 points per game and has had at least 5 triples five times.
Bluiett’s 86 3s are most in the Big East and just five shy of what he had last season in 10 more games.
1. Trae Young, Oklahoma
Season statistics: 29.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 9.3 APG, 1.8 SPG, 43.6 FG%, 37.2 3-pt FG%, 85.0 FT%
The player of the year awards have been Trae Young’s to lose for quite a while now, and while he’s still out in front the pack is getting a lot closer. This is mostly due to others’ efforts but also a result of Young showing signs of wear as the season has gone on.
The 6-2 freshman guard continues to lead the nation in scoring and assists per game but it’s taking a lot more effort to get his numbers. He’s averaging 30.4 points and 8.5 assists in Big 12 play but that’s come on 40.7-percent shooting, 33.8 percent from 3-point range and with 6.7 turnovers per contest.
Young has failed to shoot 40 percent from the field in six of his last nine games. Not surprisingly, Oklahoma has gone 2-7 in that span including a loss Tuesday at Texas Tech when he had 19 points but on 4-of-16 shooting including 0 for 9 from 3-point range.
The post College basketball player of the year rankings heading into final weeks of regular season appeared first on Diehards.
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