Player Of The Year List Getting Longer, Not Shorter by espn
A few weeks ago, when John Wall was flying across the cover of Sports Illustrated and flashing through defenses with a smile on his face, the national player of the year race seemed headed for a landslide. Then the Kentucky point guard hit the freshman Wall, so to speak. And the smile was replaced by a temporarily petulant response to coaching criticism. And suddenly Wall might not be the top POY candidate on his own team.
So it is time to reassess, and to examine a growing list of potential candidates for the myriad POY awards.
The top 12 candidates:
Evan Turner (15), Ohio State. The most well-rounded player in college basketball, averaging 18.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. He's had six 20-point games, nine double-digit-rebound games, and six games with seven or more assists. And if you want impact, there's this: The Buckeyes are 13-3 with Turner and were only 3-3 when he was out with a broken back.
Wes Johnson (16), Syracuse. The Revelation of the Year while leading the surprise Team of the Year. Johnson (17.1 points, 9.2 rebounds per game and among the Big East leaders in steals and blocks) has posted 10 double-doubles while throwing in a six-steal game and a six-block game as well. Durability is no problem, either. Johnson has sat out just 15 of the last 400 minutes Syracuse has played.
[+] EnlargeMark Zerof/US Presswire
John Wall gets most of the attention, but DeMarcus Cousins could still be player of the year.
DeMarcus Cousins (17), Kentucky. He's usurped the spotlight from Wall (which might also have something to do with the point guard's Saturday sulk). The big man with extraordinary hands and feet is the nation's No. 1 offensive rebounder, per Ken Pomeroy's stats; lives at the foul line; and has great touch around the basket. If Cousins (16.2 ppg, 9.7 rpg) could eliminate the thrown elbows and arguments with officials, there would be no holes in his game.
John Wall (18), Kentucky. He's averaging 16.9 points and 6.8 assists and possesses a fully developed ability to perform at crunch time -- but he's in a semi-slump. He's made just 30 of his last 77 shots (39 percent, for a season-long 48 percent rate). His assist-turnover ratio is 1.1-to-1 in the last four games (season-long ratio is 1.7-to-1). His steals are down slightly. That's why he's come back to the pack a bit, but it doesn't mean he can't return to his earlier brilliance.
Sherron Collins (19), Kansas. Collins might be the most fearless player in the game, evidenced by his game-winning drive and other big shots at Kansas State on Saturday. He is the leading scorer (15.5 points), leading assist man (4.1) and all-around leader of the No. 1 team in the country.
James Anderson (20), Oklahoma State. Wing player has always been able to shoot it, but he's diversified his game by becoming a driver. The result: His free-throw attempts have gone way up, and his scoring average has improved from 18.2 last year to 22.8 this season. If you saw Anderson gouge Texas for 24 first-half points Monday night, you saw a deluxe scorer. (Don't ask about the second half, when Anderson scored just four points and the Cowboys lost.)
Damion James (21), Texas. James is a polished all-court player who can score from anywhere (18 ppg) and rebound with the big boys (11 rpg). He's also become more active defensively, averaging a career-best 1.8 steals per game.
[+] EnlargePeyton Williams/Icon SMI
Kalin Lucas continues to make big shots and takes care of the basketball.
Kalin Lucas (22), Michigan State. One of Collins' chief rivals for the most clutch performer in the game. Lucas hit game-winning shots against Minnesota and Michigan in a three-day span and leads the Spartans in scoring (16 ppg) and assists (4 apg). He's had more assists than turnovers in each of the past seven games.
Jon Scheyer (23), Duke. Excellent four-year player who has stepped up his scoring (18.7 points) and assists (5.6) to career highs. The only concern for the drop-dead shooter is whether he can hold up to his current workload -- Scheyer has played 36 or more minutes in nine straight games, and Duke doesn't exactly sit back in a zone on defense.
Scottie Reynolds (24), Villanova. Another great player at crunch time. Reynolds has ratcheted up his efficiency, significantly improving his field-goal accuracy overall (49.6 percent) and from 3-point range (41.7). And Jay Wright has been able to scale back his minutes to fewer than 28 per game over the past five games, so Reynolds should be fresh for the stretch run.
Jimmer Fredette (25), BYU. The exquisitely named guard is shooting 48 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the line, and he's stepped up his scoring in recent weeks. Fredette has averaged 25 points over his last 10 games, including a 49-point eruption against Arizona. If the Cougars keep winning, he will merit watching in this race.
Devan Downey (26), South Carolina. The little man has been ridiculous in SEC play, averaging 31.6 points per game and scoring 46 percent of his team's points. He single-handedly beat No. 1 Kentucky, then came back and hit the game-winner against Georgia. If the Gamecocks improve their modest SEC standing, he cannot be ignored.
Five more on the periphery to keep an eye on:
Dominique Jones, South Florida: The junior guard has gone berserk in the past three games, averaging 37 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists for the red-hot Bulls. For the year, he's averaging 22.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
Greivis Vasquez, Maryland: In ACC games, he's third in the league in scoring (19 ppg) and second in assists (6.2). If the Terrapins remain in this oddly scrambled ACC race, he'll get some backing.
Sylven Landesberg, Virginia: Speaking of guys to watch in ACC play, Landesberg has elevated the Cavaliers to an improbable first-place tie in the loss column by averaging 21.3 points in league games.
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame: A good guy who has all the numbers (24.2 points, 9.7 rebounds) and none of the necessary quality wins.
Jacob Pullen, Kansas State: He was every bit Collins' equal as a shot-maker in the Octagonal showdown Saturday night in Manhattan and averages 19.3 points, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals for a top-15 team.
Finally, The Minutes extends a sympathy vote for Stanford's Landry Fields, who's having a great season (22.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.9 steals) on an awful team
The list can be shortened to Wall, Turner, Reynolds, and Johnson. Nobody can make a good case that any of those other names have done more, meant more to their teams, and been as effective as those four.
i disagree. i hate to say it but cousins can be added. his numbers are similar to wall and hes just as important. wall gets alot of assist but they dont matter as much because he gets almost as many turnovers.cousins gets alot of boards and scores just as much as wall. wall was easily a leader in the beginning but the most important player on that team lately has been cousins
I would def add Kalin Lucas from the spartans to ANY player of the year list, you got to be kidding me Kalin can make an argument especially since Big Ten play has begun.
I can't tell with POY, every time i think i know who will get it someone else does.
Damion James should be top5 in discussion..i still believe Texas is top5 team at least and this guy avg 18&11
I think the top 5 candidates are:
1. Wall- Best player on the best team in my opinion
2.Turner- Best all-around player on a team that is starting to put it together. Trip-doub threat every game.
3. Wes Johnson- Great defender leading a 'Cuse team that had low expectations.
4.Scottie Reynolds- Senior leader on the #2 ranked team.
5. Damion James- Never seems to have a bad game for a top 5 team
I think Cousins is worthy but the votes will be split between him and Wall.
As a Kentucky fan, I actually think Cousins has meant more to the team than Wall over the past month. Don't get me wrong, Wall is a freak of nature and does things during the game that few PGs can do but in the middle of a game Cousins is the focal point of the offense for two reasons:
1) he is even more of a match-up problem for opponents than Wall (if you can believe that)
2) he wears down the opponent with his size and brutality.
Cousins is starting to dominate in four areas: points, rebounds, blocks and FT trips.
Averaging 18 points, 11 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.5 turnovers, 1.3 steals, 2 blocks and 7.6 FT shots in only 24 minutes per game over the last 10 games...
Wall may facilitate the offense but Cousins is the focal point when he is on the floor...
Dominique Jones and Devan Downey have to get some mention if he continues to play anywhere near as well has he's played in conference.
Good to see Jacob Pullen getting some recognition.
With John Wall's recent struggles, I think the POY deserves to be Turner's. He's played well all season long, and the conference schedule hasn't shook him as much as it has Wall.