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.
Two new players, Wichita State’s Ron Baker and North Carolina’s Marcus Paige, cracked the NPOY Top 10 for the first time this week. Their overall performances could no longer be outranked by high-scoring guards Roberto Nelson and Jahii Carson. Nelson’s drop is more justifiable after playing just eight minutes against Towson. He was ejected for attempting to punch another player in the first half. Carson will ultimately have a better shot of making it back into the Top 10 because he’s a more complete player for a better team. This week’s list…
Player of the Year
10. Ron Baker – Wichita State. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 14 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 134.9 oRTG
For a player who only had scholarship offers to South Dakota State and Arkansas-Little Rock, Ron Baker has turned into a bona fide star. Only 31 players in all of college basketball have turned in a higher offensive rating than the Shockers’ sophomore. He’s excellent at creating his own shot inside the arc as his teammates are only assisting on 11 percent of his jumpers. And oh by the way, he’s drilling 64 percent of those two-point shots. He could lead the Shockers into February without a loss.
9. Marcus Paige – North Carolina. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 19.6 PPG, 4.1 APG, 124.3 oRTG
I held off putting Marcus Paige in the rankings for as long as possible, but his performance in a loss against Texas was enough that he could no longer be denied his rightful place in the Top 10. The hesitation with Paige was whether he could maintain the incredible improvement from his freshman season. With 23 points in each game against Kentucky and Texas, it’s obvious Paige is North Carolina’s star. On twos, threes and free throws, he’s shooting 49.3/40.0/91.2 compared to 36.8/34.4/83.6 in 2012-13. With the return of Leslie McDonald to the rotation, Paige should be freer to take better shots and those percentages could rise even more.
8. Nick Johnson – Arizona. Last Week: 8
2013-14 stats: 15.5 PPG, 2.5 APG, 120.7 oRTG
Nick Johnson continued his stellar junior season with a 17-point performance on just eight field goal attempts thanks to 11 trips to the free throw line against Southern. With other stars like Aaron Gordon and T.J. McConnell in the Wildcats’ lineup, Johnson has stood out the most. He’s scored in double-figures in every game except one and put up an oRTG of 100+ in all but two games.