Award Tour: Anthony Bennett is a Stud, Tubby Smith is a COY Contender, and the Most Overrated Teams…

Posted by DCassilo on January 4th, 2013

awardtour

David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.

Can a team affect a player’s candidacy for Player of the Year? It’s a question I’ve been struggling with lately. There’s no question that guys like Erick Green and C.J. McCollum have played like top 10 players this season, but should they suffer because their teams are well outside the Top 25? The Wooden Award says that the honor is given to the most outstanding basketball player, and there’s no mention of team. But I think to be an outstanding player you need to find a way to lead your team to victories. So in the end, Green and McCollum stay, but if their teams continue to play poorly, that might change regardless of their individual numbers.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

10. Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 13.2 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.2 SPG

Otto Porter has his Georgetown Hoyas back in the fold as a Big East contender (M. Sullivan/Reuters)

Otto Porter has his Georgetown Hoyas back in the fold as a Big East contender (M. Sullivan/Reuters)

It’s a long overdue appearance for Porter, who has done a little bit of everything for Georgetown this season. While his per game averages seem a little low, keep in mind he played six minutes in his season debut before leaving with injury. His stock could skyrocket with a strong start to Big East play. This week: January 5 at Marquette, January 8 vs. Pittsburgh

9. Erick Green – Virginia Tech (Last Week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 24.4 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.6 APG

While Green’s ranking is on the decline, it’s hard for me to remove someone from this list who has had just one bad game all season. His Hokies, though, are struggling and having to do it all is starting to take its toll on Green. This week: January 5 at Maryland, January 9 vs. Boston College

8. C.J. McCollum – Lehigh (Last Week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 25.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.0 APG

Lehigh suffered an ugly loss to Bryant last Saturday, but it was no fault of McCollum’s, who poured in 34 points on a season-high six three-pointers. Despite receiving extra defensive attention every night, he still leads the nation in scoring and is shooting an impressive 50.8 percent from the field. This week: January 5 at VCU, January 8 vs. Muhlenberg

7. Michael Carter-Williams – Syracuse (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 12.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 10.1 APG, 3.0 SPG

Carter-Williams has recorded double-doubles in his last two games, and has actually shot well (11-of-20) in the process. It’s the first time he’s shot 50 percent from the field in back-to-back games this season, and that is what the Orange need to win the Big East. This week: January 6 at South Florida, January 9 at Providence

6. Cody Zeller – Indiana (Last Week – 5)
2012-13 stats: 16.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG

Zeller opened up his Big Ten season with a bang against Iowa by recording his first double-double since December 8. At this point, the sophomore will need a monster conference season to get back to No. 1. This week: January 7 at Penn State

5. Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State (Last Week – 7)
2012-13 stats: 19.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG

So far this season, Thomas has yet to score less than 14 points in a game. That’s more points than two players on this list (Porter and Carter-Williams) are averaging. And unlike some other pure scorers, Thomas’ rebounding makes him a multi-dimensional player. This week: January 5 at Illinois, January 8 at Purdue

4. Anthony Bennett — UNLV (Last Week — 10)
2012-13 stats: 19.4 PPG, 9.0 RPG

It’s official: Bennett is a lot more than just a contender for a Player of the Year; he’s one of the front-runners. The freshman has been nothing short of brilliant all season and seems to get better every game. He’s the reason this UNLV team might finally live up to the hype. This week: January 5 vs. Cal State Bakersfield, January 9 at New Mexico

3. Trey Burke – Michigan (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 18.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 7.2 APG

Burke has been electric lately. He’s made 18 of his last 28 shots and picked up a double-double last Saturday against Central Michigan. Coming back to school could give him a lot of hardware and make him more money in the draft. This week: January 6 vs. Iowa, January 9 vs. Nebraska

2. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 2)
2012-13 stats: 22.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG

While McDermott is one of the top players in the country, the junior is actually having a worse statistical season than last year. His scoring average is exactly the same but his rebounding and shooting percentage are down. Both of those, though, are on the rise since he’s entered conference play. This week: January 5 vs. Indiana State, January 8 vs. Drake

1. Mason Plumlee – Duke (Last Week – 1)
2012-13 stats: 18.8 PPG, 11.2 RPG

Mason Plumlee was hassled all night by Davidson's defense.

Mason Plumlee was hassled all night by Davidson’s defense.

I talked with Plumlee this week for an upcoming piece in SLAM. A few things that struck me were his intelligence and perspective on how he fits in with the team. And while it may not be brought up everyday, you can tell the loss to Lehigh last year is a motivating factor for everyone on this team. This week: January 5 vs. Wake Forest, January 8 vs. Clemson

THE FIVE MOST OVERRATED TEAMS IN AMERICA

5. Syracuse (13-1). While the Orange have talent, a lot of people are saying this team is as good, if not better, than last year’s. That’s simply not true. Last year’s team had superior interior defense with Fab Melo and two reliable shot-makers in Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters. The downgrades in those areas this year will be revealed in Big East play.

4. Arizona (13-0). On Thursday night, I watched Colorado come into Tucson and pull of a shocking upset of undefeated Arizona on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Then the referees told me otherwise. So the very fact that Arizona is still officially undefeated makes them overrated.

3. Indiana (13-1). This choice will certainly be met with a lot of backlash, but the Hoosiers entered the season at No. 1 in the polls and have rarely played that way this season. In addition to the loss to Butler, the Hoosiers struggled to beat Iowa last Saturday. This is a solid team that can beat you in many ways and will be a factor in March, but from what I have seen, they are not a top five team at the moment.

2. Notre Dame (12-1). The Fighting Irish’s lone decent win was against a Kentucky team that was a mess at the time. Other than that, they have barely been tested this season outside of a loss to St. Joseph’s. Mike Brey has done a lot with worse talent before, so there’s a chance I might be wrong on this one.

1. Creighton (13-1). We all know how great McDermott is, but the supporting cast leaves something to be desired. Only one other Bluejay (Gregory Echenique) averages double figures in scoring. Even if McDermott plays well, it might not be enough to win, and that’s a scary thought when you reach the NCAA Tournament.

HALFTIME ENTERTAINMENT

Remember Kenny George? He was the best. The UNC-Asheville product was either 7’7″ or 7’9″ depending on what you read and had plenty of plays like this one below. Sadly, he had part of his foot amputated in 2008. If anyone has an update on what he’s doing today, drop it in the comments.

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

10. T.J. Warren – North Carolina State (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 13.5 PPG, 3.5 APG

Gone for a few weeks, Warren is back in the mix due to his tremendous shooting touch. As his team hits conference play, Warren is shooting 69.4 percent from the field. The only problem now is that he needs more touches. This week: January 5 at Boston College, January 9 vs. Georgia Tech

9. Jordan Adams — UCLA (Last Week — 7)
2012-13 stats: 16.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG

It’s been an up-and-down season for Adams, and he’s in the middle of a down portion right now. In two games last week, he averaged 9.5 points per game. It’s a product of a Bruins team that has seen its scoring rotate between freshmen. This week: January 5 vs. Stanford, January 10 at Utah

8. Jahii Carson – Arizona State (Last Week – 8)
2012-13 stats: 17.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 5.6 APG

Carson struggled early against Utah on Wednesday and appeared poised for a single-digit scoring night, but the freshman turned it on late and led his team to an overtime victory with 15 points. Conference play has been known to shake a freshman’s confidence, so it was a great sign. This week: January 6 vs. Colorado, January 10 at Oregon State

7. Nerlens Noel – Kentucky (Last Week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 10.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 3.5 BPG, 2.6 SPG

Over his last five games, Noel has scored in double figures just once. It’s a significant regression, as he was able to give them a little something offensively earlier in the season. The rebounds, blocks and steals are still there, though. This week: January 10 at Vanderbilt

6. Isaiah Austin – Baylor (Last Week – 9)
2012-13 stats: 14.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG

Despite fouling out, Austin finished with 20 points and eight rebounds last Saturday against Gonzaga. The nine fouls in his last two games is worrisome, but that’s about the only thing in his game that is. This week: January 5 vs. Texas, January 8 at Texas Tech

5. Archie Goodwin – Kentucky (Last Week – 4)
2012-13 stats: 15.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.8 APG

Goodwin was the best player on the floor for Kentucky when the Wildcats faced Louisville last Saturday. He’s also been the most consistent one on their team this season and looks ready for conference play. This week: January 10 at Vanderbilt

4. Shabazz Muhammad — UCLA (Last Week — 6)
2012-13 stats: 19.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG

Shabazz Muhammad Helped Lead UCLA To Their First Non-Conference Win Over A Top Ten Team In More Than Five Years (US Presswire)

Shabazz Muhammad Helped Lead UCLA To Their First Non-Conference Win Over A Top Ten Team In More Than Five Years (US Presswire)

By finding his scorer’s touch, Muhammad has been the key to a UCLA resurgence. Winners of six straight games, this is why UCLA received so much hype before the season. In a weird way, they are flying under the radar now, but that won’t be for long. This week: January 5 vs. Stanford, January 10 at Utah

3. Ben McLemore – Kansas (Last Week – 2)
2012-13 stats: 15.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG

McLemore’s nine points might not look great against American, but he only played 20 minutes. Bill Self was just getting him some much-needed extra rest before the most rigorous part of the team’s schedule. This week: January 6 vs. Temple, January 9 vs. Iowa State

2. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 13.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.2 APG

In a one-point loss to Gonzaga, Smart got his groove back. He posted an impressive line of 23 points, four rebounds and six assists. The key of course, was finally finding his shot, as he shot above 40 percent for the first time since November 18. This week: January 5 at Kansas State, January 9 vs. TCU

1. Anthony Bennett – UNLV (Last Week – 1)
2012-13 stats: 19.4 PPG, 9.0 RPG

While it’s still early, it would really be a shock if Bennett didn’t end the season atop this list. He’s getting very close to leading all freshmen on this list in both points and rebounds, as he trails Noel in the latter by 0.3 per game. Plain and simple, he’s a stud. This week: January 5 vs. Cal State Bakersfield, January 9 at New Mexico

COACH OF THE YEAR

5. Larry Shyatt – Wyoming (Last week – NR)
Record: 13-0

Shyatt Deserves Inclusion With Wyoming's Unbeaten Season Thus Far

Shyatt Deserves Inclusion With Wyoming’s Unbeaten Season Thus Far

It’s January now, and Wyoming is still undefeated. The latest victory was an impressive one, as the Cowboys defeated an up-and-coming SMU team on the road. The win came without second leading-scorer Luke Martinez, who broke his finger.This week: January 9 vs. Boise State

4. John Thompson III – Georgetown (Last week – 4)
Record: 10-1

The Hoyas had off last week and will have gone 14 days between games. Keeping his team fresh will be the latest challenge for JTIII. This week: January 5 at Marquette, January 8 vs. Pittsburgh

3. Tubby Smith – Minnesota (Last week – NR)
Record: 13-1

It’s time to give Smith and Minnesota some love, as the Golden Gophers have just one loss this season, which came against Duke. With a balanced scoring attack, Minnesota looks poised to wreak havoc on preseason predictions for the Big Ten. This week: January 6 vs. Northwestern, January 9 at Illinois

2. Brad Stevens – Butler (Last week – 2)
Record: 11-2

While Vanderbilt isn’t that great this season, playing a road game there and destroying the Commodores is always an impressive feat. It’s yet another triumph for Butler, who is now about to start its first season as a member of the Atlantic 10. This week: January 5 vs. New Orleans, January 9 at St. Joseph’s

1. Mike Krzyzewski – Duke (Last week – 1)
Record: 13-0

A little more from Plumlee on Duke’s success. He gave a lot of credit to having Quinn Cook playing point guard full-time and the emergence of freshman Rasheed Sulaimon. Anyway, the story will be in SLAM next month, so check it out.  This week: January 5 vs. Wake Forest, January 8 vs. Clemson

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