A quicksilver point guard dominating for a team nobody thought would sniff the top 10; the most prolific scorer in college basketball, who might be the sport’s best shooter since Stephen Curry or JJ Redick; and a beefy freshman power forward averaging a double-double on the No. 1 team in the country. These are your Player of the Year candidates.
Kemba Walker, Connecticut: 24.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.1 spg. The Huskies are 17-2.
Jimmer Fredette, BYU: 27.4 ppg, 4.2 apg, 3.4 rpg, 42 % from three. The Cougars are 20-1.
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: 17.8 ppg, 10 rpg, 57& FGs. The Buckeyes are 21-0.
The Naismith award isn’t very specific – it just seeks to find the “top” player in college basketball. “Top” is as vague as the Heisman criteria. “Best player” is subjective. The “means the most to his team” argument is silly – Connecticut and BYU would both be very, very bad if not for Kemba and Jimmer; OSU is probably a .500ish team without Sullinger. If you want to toss in the “competition” argument, this one may surprise you – Sullinger’s Buckeyes are ranked 55th in strength of schedule; Connecticut is 20 and BYU 15. Last night, the Cougars – led by Fredette’s 43 – knocked off previously-unbeaten San Diego State.
“Who will make the best pro” shouldn’t be part of the discussion, but just in case it is, ESPN’s Chad Ford has risen Fredette – who has a better handle and can create off the dribble better than JJ Redick could at Duke – into the “high lottery” area; Sullinger is a projected Top 10 pick and Walker projects as a late 1st round pick.
My ballot, today*: Jimmer, Kemba, Sullinger. It’s Jimmer’s world. We just live in it. Someone please notify the NCAA tournament seeding committee.
* Not a disclaimer, just subject to change as the season progresses. Two other names who are longshots to get in the discussion: Jordan Hamilton of Texas and Isiah Thomas of Washington.