Award Tour: The Ballot Is In and the Best Player, Freshman and Coach are…

Posted by DCassilo on March 12th, 2013

awardtour

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

Believe it or not, when this all started guys like Mike Moser, Jamaal Franklin and Isaiah Canaan were in the top 10. But soon the top players in the country started to come into focus. Only four players (Trey Burke, Cody Zeller, Doug McDermott and Deshaun Thomas) stayed in the rankings all season, while only one freshman (Marcus Smart) could say the same. And finally, below, we have those few players that separated themselves from the pack. The best part of it all is that as fun as this regular season was, it will likely only provide a small percentage of what we remember about college basketball this year. But before we get to the best part, here’s who is taking home the hardware.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown
Regular season stats: 16.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 SPG

Otto Porter Led the Hoyas to a Special Win (TheDaily.com)

Otto Porter Jr. has a lot to be excited about. (TheDaily.com)

In times of adversity, greatness rises, and that’s the primary reason Porter is the choice for the top spot. On January 8, the Hoyas’ second leading scorer, Greg Whittington, played his final game. It was a crossroads for Georgetown, who looked like they might be headed down the Big East standings very quickly. Instead, though, the team went 14-2 and grabbed the Big East title. Over those 16 games, Porter was unstoppable. He averaged 19.9 PPG and 7.7 RPG, while shooting at least 50 percent from the field in 10 of 16 games despite facing plenty of double-teams. And the Hoyas got the most out of their best player too. He played at least 39 minutes in each of his last five games.

What Porter was able to accomplish with such a thin supporting cast was remarkable. There was no Cody Zeller down low like there was for Victor Oladipo, and the Hoyas finished first in the Big East, not fifth like Trey Burke did in the Big Ten. He was the best player on Georgetown, and everybody knew it, yet they couldn’t stop him. Now he’s the best player in the country.

First Team All-Americans

  • Otto Porter Jr. – Georgetown
  • Trey Burke – Michigan
  • Victor Oladipo – Indiana
  • Mason Plumlee – Duke
  • Kelly Olynyk – Gonzaga

Second Team All-Americans

  • Doug McDermott – Creighton
  • Jeff Withey – Kansas
  • Cody Zeller – Indiana
  • Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State
  • Deshaun Thomas – Ohio State

FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR

Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State
Regular season stats: 15.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 3.0 SPG

Marcus Smart is the Real Deal: BUY.

Marcus Smart is playing like more than a freshman.

During the course of the season, I made the comment that no player lives up to his last name more than Smart. The freshman simply does whatever it takes to get his team the victory, and there were plenty of those at Oklahoma State this season. Although he had a few ups and downs, he always seemed to rise up on the big stage. In six games against ranked teams this season, Smart averaged 21.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 4.2 APG and 2.8 SPG. Those numbers are mind-blowing for a freshman and suggest he will perform like a star in March.

In the end, those stats and the way he led his team is why Smart gets the nod over Ben McLemore. While the Kansas freshman was terrific from the very first day, Smart was more crucial to his team’s success. He played a variety of roles for the Cowboys and filled them all well.

First Team All-Freshman

  • Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State
  • Ben McLemore – Kansas
  • Jahii Carson – Arizona State
  • Anthony Bennett – UNLV
  • Shabazz Muhammad – UCLA

Second Team All-Freshman

  • Jordan Adams – UCLA
  • Jakarr Sampson – St. John’s
  • Semaj Christon – Xavier
  • Archie Goodwin – Kentucky
  • Isaiah Austin – Baylor

COACH OF THE YEAR

Jim Larranaga – Miami (FL)
Record: 24-6

What more can you say about the job that Jim Larranaga has done this season? (Getty)

What more can you say about the job that Jim Larranaga has done this season? (Getty)

Forget what happened down the stretch and look at the amazing overall picture: The Miami Hurricanes won the ACC regular season title. This looked impossible before the season, and anyone who believed it could happen surely gave up after the Hurricanes fell to Florida Gulf Coast in the season’s second game. But Larranaga steered his team through a rough start that was riddled with injuries and put Miami on the college hoops map for the first time in seemingly forever. Let’s not also forget that he did this all while an NCAA investigation was hanging over the team’s head.

While John Thomspon III, Jim Crews and Mark Few could all be atop this list, Larranaga was faced with the toughest task – winning at a school that expects you to lose. Regardless of what happens in March, he’s done a terrific job.

Rest of the Top Five:

2. John Thompson III – Georgetown

3. Mark Few – Gonzaga

4. Jim Crews – Saint Louis

5. Bruce Weber – Kansas State

POSTGAME ENTERTAINMENT

It’s been an absolute joy to write this weekly feature throughout the season. Watching games, searching through box scores and tracking down highlights to find the country’s best players has made this season a fun one. To end it all, I leave you with my favorite NCAA tournament memory mainly because it’s my school, and I was there. It’s the game-winner by Scottie Reynolds for Villanova in the 2009 Elite Eight. As a reporter for the student newspaper, I was sitting in the corner near the basket that he scored on. Although I tried to keep my composure, it was hard not to celebrate and hug those Villanova students around me. Here’s to hoping every alum gets to experience a moment like this from their school.

DCassilo (19 Posts)


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