Award Tour: Doug McDermott Has Some CompanyPosted by Jameson Fleming on February 14th, 2014
Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for CBSSports.com as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.
Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart has fallen out of the rankings, not only because of his suspension, but because his play on the court has suffered. Prior to a good performance against Texas Tech (aside from the Jeff Orr incident), Smart had limped through four ugly games, three of which were Cowboy losses. With Oklahoma State now firmly on the bubble, Smart needs to return to form quickly in order to avoid an incredibly disappointing season.
Player of the Year
10. C.J. Fair – Syracuse. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 16.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 101.8 oRTG
I’ve been hard on C.J. Fair all season because he has turned into a volume shooter and turnover machine as a senior. He’s the main cog in Jim Boeheim’s offense, but he’s rarely been very efficient this season. Despite that, he’s still the leading scorer on an undefeated power conference team. Fair finally makes this list for two reasons: His turnovers are down in ACC play (42 in 13 non-conference games vs. 19 in 11 ACC games), and his clutch shots against Pitt. This breakdown is as much about Fair’s skills as Lamar Patterson dogging it defensively. In the first play, Fair runs off a simple screen along the baseline. Patterson gets caught on it and basically gives up, allowing the Syracuse senior to fire an easy three.
In the second play, Patterson gets tricked into thinking Fair is going to drive baseline after he guarded Fair’s penetration well all game long. The Pitt star is a step too slow and Fair gets off a relatively uncontested mid-range jumper.
9. Justin Jackson – Cincinnati. Last Week: 10
2013-14 stats: 11.4 PPG, 3.1 BPG, 106.9 oRTG
Sean Kilpatrick is the sexy pick from Cincinnati in the Player of the Year race, but teammate Justin Jackson ultimately has had a bigger impact on both ends of the floor. Jackson might be the best defensive player in the country. Toss in the fact he’s Cincinnati’s second best option offensively along with his rebounding and you get the Bearcats’ most influential player.
8. Julius Randle – Kentucky. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 15.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG, 111.8 oRTG
For now, Julius Randle has a slight edge on Casey Prather for SEC POY because Randle is a better all-around player between his post offense and rebounding. He’s become a stronger player defensively in SEC play to complement his already elite scoring abilities. Randle has blocked at least one shot in nine consecutive conference games after rejecting just three shots in his previous nine. His emergence has taken some of the pressure off of Willie Cauley-Stein.
7. Russ Smith – Louisville. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 18.3 PPG, 4.7 APG, 112.1 oRTG
In his senior season, Russ Smith has really flourished as a complete offensive player. As a sophomore, he was a straight gunner — every time he touched the ball, he was a threat to jack up a shot. But now, two years later, Smith is under much better control offensively. He’s seen improvements across the board each of the last three years:
- Two-pointers: .379/.458/.492
- Three-pointers: .306/.328/.397
- Assist Rate: 21.8/21.1/32.0
- Offensive Rating: 91.5/108.9/112.1
6. Xavier Thames – San Diego State. Last Week: 9
2013-14 stats: 17.8 PPG, 1.7 SPG, 121.9 oRTG
If college hoops had a “Most Improved Player” award, then Xavier Thames would probably win some hardware. With the exception of block percentage, Thames has improved in EVERY statistical category that KenPom.com tracks. Most importantly, his true shooting percentage is up nine percent, which makes Thames a dynamite scorer instead of the black hole he was last year. He stands out as a star in an otherwise mediocre offense.
5. Shabazz Napier – Connecticut. Last Week: 4
2013-14 stats: 17.3 PPG, 5.5 APG, 120.4 oRTG
Through the years, Connecticut has rarely had a shortage of talented big men. So it’s somewhat shocking to see Shabazz Napier, a 6’1″ point guard, be such a strong presence inside the arc. The senior has remained a stellar perimeter player while also taking his talents to the basket. He leads the team in rebounding and can block the occasional shot from time to time. While Kevin Ollie has been plugging in various bigs on his front line all season, Napier has been the surprising bolt that holds both the frontcourt and backcourt together.
4. Nick Johnson – Arizona. Last Week: 2
2013-14 stats: 15.9 PPG, 2.6 APG, 115.8 oRTG
Nick Johnson’s toughest test this year may consistently occur on the defensive end of the floor after Brandon Ashley’s injury. The Wildcats will be forced into three-guard lineups which means Johnson could be tasked with guarding bigger and longer opponents. He’s Sean Miller’s best perimeter defender, but he will now face drastically different assignments. His recent struggles offensively may also be attributed in part to who is checking him. More length = tougher shots. He’s 0-of-12 from three in his last three games.
3. Jabari Parker – Duke. Last Week: 6
2013-14 stats: 19.2 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 113.6 oRTG
Jabari Parker is slowly learning he doesn’t need to be a jump shooter and perimeter player to succeed in college. Parker’s resurgence in ACC play has come with more opportunities to score around the basket and a stronger emphasis on cleaning the glass. He had his way with Boston College and Wake Forest’s mediocre interior defenses, and he also owned the baseline against Syracuse after struggling to find traction at the top of the Orange’s zone.
2. Tyler Ennis – Syracuse. Last Week: 3
2013-14 stats: 11.8 PPG, 5.6 APG, 121 oRTG
Syracuse’s incredible freshman, Tyler Ennis, was about to drop down to No. 3 behind Jabari Parker until this happened.
That shot stands for itself and is the epitome of how calm Ennis is under pressure.
I was in the Pete for the Pitt-Syracuse game, and after Ennis’ shot, one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen happened. The refs reviewed his shot, and afterward, one referee appeared to wave it off, causing the Oakland Zoo to go wild for about two seconds until a second referee ruled it was good. Until Syracuse started celebrating, the crowd was left wondering who had won the game, though, as the arena scoreboard never displayed the final margin.
1. Doug McDermott – Creighton. Last Week: No. 1
2013-14 stats: 25.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 121.5 oRTG
Doug McDermott isn’t really in any danger of losing his lead in the Player of the Year race, but he has a little bit of competition again thanks to Jabari Parker and Tyler Ennis’ last two weeks of play. But for now, McDermott keeps chugging away. In his last nine games, the Creighton senior has scored fewer than 20 points only once.
Coach of the Year
5. Billy Donovan – Florida. Last Week: Not Ranked. Florida is one road victory at Kentucky away from having a clear path to running the table in the SEC. Despite only three players appearing in ever game this season, the Gators are a Shabazz Napier shot from being No. 2 in the polls. Billy Donovan deserves a lot of credit for keeping this team together and dominating conference play.
4. Steve Fisher – San Diego State. Last Week: 1. The Aztecs haven’t shot the ball well all season and eventually that trend caught up with them. Wyoming completely dominated the paint against the Aztecs, but it also found some open looks from deep. Wyoming and SDSU made the same number of shots, except the Cowboys needed 20 fewer attempts to do so. When the NCAA Tournament rolls around, stronger squads will also limit San Diego State on the offensive glass. Without a second efficient scorer, Fisher’s team could be in deep trouble come March.
3. Sean Miller – Arizona. Last Week: 2. Without Brandon Ashley, Sean Miller is going to have to find a way to keep this offense together – an offense that’s only ranked 37th in adjusted efficiency. Ashley acted as a connector between the perimeter attack and interior play. He could provide spacing for Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell while also scoring himself around the basket. If Miller can get better perimeter play out of freshman Aaron Gordon, Arizona will ultimately remain a national title contender.
2. Gregg Marshall – Wichita State. Last Week: 4. The Shockers are just five Missouri Valley games away from an undefeated regular season. They’re likely be favored by double-figures in every remaining game, which roughly translates to a 90 percent favorite the rest of the way. They’ve been tested lately, but Gregg Marshall’s squad has put together some great second halves to stay unblemished.
1. Jim Boeheim – Syracuse. Last Week: 3. I’ll let this GIF sum up the last two weeks for Jim Boeheim.