10 College Players Chasing National Player of the Year
10. Cameron Thomas, LSU
Coming in at the tenth spot in the race for college basketball player of the year, I feel it necessary to make an honorable mention for LSU freshman Cameron Thomas. Entering the year, I don't remember hearing much about this guy.
After a full preseason and now quite a few conference games, Cameron Thomas is averaging 23 points and three assists. The kid can ball. He can pull up from deep, drive to the basket, dish it and grab boards with the best in the SEC.
He won't win player of the year, however he is playing extremely good basketball and should be mentioned. Here's a stat line he put up against Texas A&M just a few days ago, where he put up 32 Points, one steal, two assists, two rebounds, and shot 45 per cent from three, 57 per cent from the field.
9. Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
Cade Cunningham is one of three freshman making a solid argument for freshman of the year among other awards. However, his scoring isn't what sets him apart, as he averages about 18 points per game.
Where Cunningham shines for me is grabbing boards from the guard position. Cunningham is a 6'8 guard who's averaging six boards per game along with four assists. His team isn't good enough to propel him to National Player of the Year, however he might be good enough to propel his team into the tournament.
Following OKST's defeat of Kansas, his stock in the player of the year race may have increased drastically. Keep an eye on Cunningham as the year progresses.
8. Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
I may get some heat for ranking Jalen Suggs so low, and I would understand that. Suggs has been absolutely balling as the freshman guard has been the primary ball handler for the number one ranked team in the nation.
He's the third leading scorer on the team and is shooting above 40% from three. His most impressive feat thus far was in his first college game against Kansas, in which he put up 24 points, eight assists.
I don't think a Gonzaga Bulldog will win the award which is why I've ranked him so low. However, Suggs is my favorite to win Freshman of the Year.
7. Quentin Grimes, University of Houston
Quentin Grimes is my first pick that may be missing from most Player of the Year lists, however, I absolutely love the way this guy leads. The transfer from Kansas is only a junior, but leads like he's ready to front the charge for a professional organization.
Grimes is averaging 18 points, seven rebounds and two assists so far this season, and the Cougars are looking tough. They sit at a 10-1 record with their only loss being to Tulsa by a flukey one point.
The Houston Cougars are currently ranked at 11th in the nation. If Grimes keeps putting up strong numbers, this team could be in the top 10 by next week.
6. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova
The sophomore power forward from Villanova has been on a mission thus far. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is 6'9 and averaging 16 points, seven rebounds, and two assists on 54 per cent shooting.
The big guy can hit from deep, can drive to the basket, handle the ball well and dish it when he needs to. The Villanova Wildcats are currently 3rd in the nation and you can be sure that they wouldn't be there without this guy leading the charge. His presence on defense is also extremely valuable to the team, making him a possible candidate should Villanova make a run at the end of the season.
5. Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
Corey Kispert is the leading scorer on the number 1 team in the country. Need I say more? I will.
He's averaging 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and is shooting an ABSURD 60% from the field and 48% from three. The 6'7 forward has shot 41/84 from three. That is absolutely, positively, surely impossibly, amazing. He's taken more threes than anyone on the team, and he is driving them.
If he keeps up his shooting percentages as the year moves forward and Gonzaga remains the number one team, I almost assure you that Kispert will enter the top three race for player of the year.
4. Hunter Dickinson, Michigan
There is something to be said about one of the few remaining undefeated teams in college basketball, and especially for Hunter Dickinson. Dickinson is the starting center for the Michigan Wolverines, leading the team in points, rebounds and blocks.
The big guy is dominant. At 7'1, 225 pounds, he easily overpowers weaker guards. Dickinson is the kind of player that when he's feeling it, can single handedly carry a team to a national championship. If the Wolverines remain undefeated for another few weeks, they are my favorites to win the title this year and Dickinson is my favorite for player of the year...but that's a big IF.
3. Jared Butler, Baylor
Jared Butler is an extremely possible and likely candidate to win the award. He has that Hollywood flair that everyone immediately notices when watching him play.
Butler is the leading scorer for arguably the best team in the country. He has the ball in his hands when it matters most, and that is what matters most in the POY race. His stat line below speaks for itself.
2. Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
Against Penn State and Indiana, Ayo Dosunmu put up back-to-back 30-point games, which followed a 36-point domination of Missouri and three double-doubles. The junior from Illinois is straight cooking.
He leads his team in scoring and almost in rebounding as well from the guard position. His most impressive stat however is his three-point percentage. He's shooting 42.2 per cent from three and takes 1/3rd of all the team's shots when he's on the floor. Should Illinois keep sliding in the rankings, his chance of winning the award may as well. However, as of now, he's the runner up for the award.
1. Luka Garza, Iowa
Senior Luka Garza of Iowa has looked like a man among boys. He was the preseason favorite to win National Player of the Year, and he has not disappointed one bit. Leading the team in scoring, rebounding and blocks, Garza is averaging 28 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists while shooting 48 per cent from deep and 63 per cent from the field. In Iowa's first 13 games, Garza scored at least 30 points six times, including a 41-point game.
His shooting numbers are absurd. In fact at first glance I thought they were fake. They are so good, that I'm not sure how good they will remain for the rest of the season. If Garza keeps this kind of play up, he is an absolute lock for the player of the year, and it isn't really close.
Only time will tell how Garza finishes the rest of the season.
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