Sakash: College hoops POY status report

first_imgThere’s a pretty common debate about the definition of what Most Valuable Player means in sports. Is it the “best” or most talented player in the league or the player who adds the most value to his/her team?The writers and other members of the media who vote for such awards are notoriously split in their belief of what type of player deserves the award.So for arguments sake, in terms of the men’s college basketball player of the year, let’s assume it means an awkward combination of both.On the Hoops America Page there’s only space for five players under the “Player of the Year Watch” heading; however, there are far more candidates worthy of the discussion (perhaps that’s why they choose 10 finalists before the NCAA Tournament starts).But out of those candidates, who deserves the honor? It appears no clear-cut favorite has yet presented itself.BYU’s Jimmer Fredette might embody the college “MVP” on both fronts as he leads the country in scoring and also unqualifiedly adds value to his team. Would BYU sit third in the country without him? Of course not.The Jimmer, currently in his senior season as a Cougar, averages about a third of his team’s points and assists (27.3 ppg and 4.3 apg). He’s shooting over 41 percent from the three-point line and even manages to sneak in over three rebounds per game.Though, as impressive as his stats are, he has some stiff competition.Nolan Smith had to take over his team’s point guard responsibilities for Duke when freshman Kyrie Irving went down with an injury earlier in the season.Smith grabbed the adverse situation and ran with it, leading his team in scoring (21.3 ppg) and assists (5.2 apg) while pulling down almost five rebounds per game.Smith may have more talent around him than Fredette with proven scorer Kyle Singler on his side, but there isn’t anything Smith can’t and hasn’t done for the Blue Devils this year.Then there’s Kemba Walker. Take a look up and down Connecticut’s roster this season and, aside from Walker, you’ll find a whole lot of unremarkable “guys.”Early in the season it appeared Walker’s shoulders were beginning to tire as he was forced to take on the majority of the scoring load in addition to his duties as point guard.After a dismal eight-point performance against Syracuse, however, Walker rebounded with several impressive games while leading the Huskies to key Big East wins.Walker has averaged 22.8 points and 4.5 assists per game while leading his team to a 9-7 record in the conference and has promptly reentered his name into the player of the year conversation.Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger is a great player. With one or two more college seasons under his belt he could dominate the post in the NBA (think Carlos Boozer or Paul Millsap), but it’s possible that he’s just not there yet.In the early goings of the season Sullinger wowed the nation as he averaged a double-double, but the freshman phenom has since cooled down.The problem for Sullinger, at least in terms of player-of-the-year candidacy, is he has too much talent around him.There are two or three accomplished scorers on the Buckeyes who take the pressure off of the large freshman forward and thus, his stats have suffered.He may not win the award this season, but his arrow is pointed to the moon.The dark horse in this race is Kenneth Faried, the nation’s leading rebounder from Morehead State.On top of his huge rebounding numbers (14.3 rpg), he averages 17.6 points per game.Some have compared Faried to Dennis Rodman without the B.S. (in addition to some semblance of touch around the basket).Even though voters don’t like to award players from mid-major conferences (save Andrew Bogut from a few years ago), it’s hard to argue against Faried’s worth to his team and overall talent as a player.But wait, there’s more.The Big East is full of big time scorers, which is part of the reason why the conference has dominated all others so profoundly over the last few years.Marshon Brooks (from Providence of all schools) recently put up 52 points in a game and now sits second in the country in scoring behind Jimmer Fredette.St. John’s wildly talked-about success this season has drawn from senior guard Dwight Hardy’s contributions (averaging 26.4 ppg over the last seven games). The hometown kid’s (Hardy hails from the Bronx) numbers have catapulted his name into the Big East and national player of the year conversations.Arizona’s sophomore Derrick Williams, one of college’s unknown talents, and JaJuan Johnson of Purdue both deserve serious consideration as well.Williams, who almost averages a double-double, has willed his team to the best record in the Pac-10, while Johnson has put up similar numbers without the help of the perpetually injured Robbie Hummel.It’s a very crowded race with a lot of deserving players. The one who deserves it most?Well, that’s yet to be seen.last_img read more