David Cassilo is an RTC columnist who also writes about college basketball for SLAM magazine. You can follow him at @dcassilo.
I got a chance to go to the Legends Classic on Monday with the opportunity to see what was supposed to be the nation’s top team (Indiana) and top player (Cody Zeller). I left with one certain conclusion: I saw neither. It’s not to say that they won’t claim those titles by season’s end, but now is not the time to give them those honors. But that’s just the theme across college basketball right now. A dominant team or player has yet to emerge, and as I look around the country, I’m not sure if we’ll ever see it. This is as wide open a year as ever for the sport, and that should provide an exciting regular season and NCAA Tournament. We’ve already had plenty, and it’s not even December.
And now on to those awards races, which experienced lots of changes and player debuts this week. Also in there is a Thanksgiving list leftover.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES
10. Le’Bryan Nash – Oklahoma State (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 19 PPG, 6.8 RPG
While he might have been overshadowed by his teammate below, Nash is just as crucial to the Cowboys’ hot start. Part of what makes him so dangerous is his ability to get to the free throw line, as he has attempted at least 12 shots from the charity stripe in each of the last three games. It’s becoming clear that he makes up half of one of the best duos in the country. This week: Nov. 25 vs. Portland State
9. Marcus Smart – Oklahoma State (Last Week – NR)
2012-13 stats: 14.8 PPG, 8 RPG, 5 APG, 3 SPG
The other half of that duo, Smart is officially on everyone’s radar after a stellar performance at the Puerto Rico Tipoff. In the championship game, he put up an eye-opening line of 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, four steals and four blocks. His ability to excel in big games is something not many players in the country have, let along freshmen. This week: Nov. 25 vs. Portland State
8. Doug McDermott – Creighton (Last Week – 3)
2012-13 stats: 16.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG
It has been a bit of disappointing start for McDermott, who was expected to score in bunches this season. Instead, he is attempting nearly five fewer shots per game and has a season-high of “just” 24 points against lesser competition. He’ll need to do much better to move back up in the rankings. This week: Nov. 23 vs. Wisconsin, Nov. 24 vs. Arizona State/Arkansas, Nov. 28 vs. Boise State