Award Tour: Doug McDermott Wins National Player of the Year

Posted by Jameson Fleming (@JamesonFleming) on March 13th, 2014

AwardTour

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.

Picking a 10th player to fill out the National Player of the Year rankings was agonizingly hard. There were so many tremendous options like rankings stalwart Tyler Ennis, who finally fell out of the Top 10 thanks to his poor play during Syracuse’s struggles. Then there’s Bryce Cotton and T.J. Warren. Providence is closer to the NCAA Tournament than North Carolina State, but both stars have had incredible seasons. Cotton is averaging more than 40 MINUTES per game and is single-handedly willing the Friars to the Big Dance. Warren has been nothing short of spectacular for the Wolfpack. While he won ACC Player of the Year, on a national scale his team’s lack of success kept him out of these rankings. There’s also Marcus Smart, who turned in an impressive five-game stretch to put Oklahoma State back into the Tournament picture comfortably. His fellow Big 12 stud Melvin Ejim took home the league’s Player of the Year honors. Kyle Anderson has had a Shabazz Napier-like season for the Bruins, except he did it as a 6’9″ point guard.

Doug McDermott proved time and time again that he was the premier standout this season. (AP)

Doug McDermott proved time and time again that he was the premier standout this season. (AP)

Player of the Year

10. Marcus Paige – North Carolina. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 17.1 PPG, 4.5 APG, 120.6 ORtg

After a long absence from the Top 10, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige finally returns thanks to dominant play in the ACC. Before losing to Duke in the regular season finale, UNC had won 12 consecutive games thanks to Paige’s leadership. During the last 13 outings, Paige has averaged 17.6 points per game. Even when he’s not scoring, the Tar Heels’ sophomore impacts the game as a passer, but also a defender. Against Notre Dame, Paige shut the door on an upset attempt by blocking a last-second layup at the end of regulation.

9. Andrew Wiggins – Kansas. Last Week: 8
2013-14 stats: 16.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 113.9 ORtg

All season long, fans have been waiting for Andrew Wiggins to explode and have a Kevin Durant-like game. The Kansas freshman finally delivered in a loss at West Virginia without Joel Embiid. Wiggins dropped an efficient 41 points to give scouts a signature performance and a chance to remember why he should be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. His shot chart from that game is a thing of beauty.

Shot chart via CBSSports.com

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Award Tour: The Battle for Runner-Up is Heating Up

Posted by Jameson Fleming (@jamesonfleming) on February 28th, 2014

AwardTour

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.

Marcus Smart is well on his way to getting back in the good graces of the Player of the Year rankings. In the two games since he returned from suspension, the Oklahoma State sophomore is averaging 16.5 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 8.5 APG. It’s too late to make any kind of run at Player of Year – both nationally and in the Big 12 – but Smart can salvage an otherwise disappointing season and ensure the Cowboys go dancing with a strong finish.

Player of the Year

10. Kyle Anderson – UCLA. Last Week: 10
2013-14 stats: 14.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 6.9 APG, 113.1 ORtg

Kyle Anderson is on thin ice after a poor performance in a loss against Stanford and a one-game suspension Thursday night for violating team rules. Other than Doug McDermott, Anderson might be the most unique player in the country. He’s one of just two players 6’7″ or taller in the country to rank in the top 100 in assist rate. The 6’9 Anderson is 20th in that metric, assisting on 35.4 percent of his team’s baskets. Saint Joseph’s Halil Kanacevic stands 6’8″ and assists on 29.2 percent of his team’s buckets.

9. Scottie Wilbekin – Florida. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 13.5 PPG, 3.9 APG, 113.2 ORtg

Wilbekin Has Been Outstanding for the Gators This Season

Wilbekin Has Been Outstanding for the Gators This Season

During the last month, it’s become more apparent that this Gators team is Scottie Wilbekin’s team. Casey Prather was the early star, but lately, Wilbekin has been the dominant force on an outstanding Florida squad. Wilbekin has improved in SEC play, toting an offensive rating of 121.0 and averaging 19.0 points per game in Florida’s five toughest conference games so far.

8. Andrew Wiggins – Kansas. Last Week: 9
2013-14 stats: 16.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 114.1 ORtg

Andrew Wiggins hasn’t quite been the star he was expected to be on the offensive end of the floor. There’s no doubt that he’s been a very good scorer, but his top contribution for the Jayhawks may be on defense. Read the rest of this entry »

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Award Tour: Doug McDermott Has Some Company

Posted by Jameson Fleming on February 14th, 2014

AwardTour

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.

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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.
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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.

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Award Tour: Can Anyone Challenge Doug McDermott?

Posted by Jameson Fleming on January 24th, 2014

AwardTour

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.

While most players need the Jaws of Life to pry the Player of the Year award from Doug McDermott right now, the race to be named in the top 10 continues to be heated. Russ Smith fell out of the rankings after two more turnover-prone, poor-shooting performances. Casey Prather had two solid outings after returning from an injury against Auburn and Alabama. Gary Harris and Keith Appling have remained impressive during big man Adreian Payne’s absence. Xavier Thames seems to improve with each game and hasn’t been held to single figures since scoring five points against McNeese State a month ago.

Player of the Year

10. Lamar Patterson – Pittsburgh. Last Week: 9
2013-14 stats: 17.4 PPG, 4.6 APG, 122.8 oRTG

The Panthers didn’t pass their tough road test at Syracuse, but Lamar Patterson battled Tyler Ennis as the stars in the Carrier Dome. After an early second half run by the Orange, Patterson single-handedly brought Pitt back with a trio of three-pointers from DEEP behind the line. Pitt couldn’t hold the lead, but Patterson definitely held near his spot in the Player of the Year rankings.

9. Joel Embiid – Kansas. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats: 11.1 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 114.4 oRTG

Joel Embiid Needs to Stay on the Floor (USA Today)

Joel Embiid Needs to Stay on the Floor (USA Today)

If case you haven’t heard, Joel Embiid has only been playing basketball for a couple years. OK, now that we have the most uttered piece of trivia in college basketball out of the way, here’s the lowdown on the Kansas freshman. Embiid would be one of the favorites to win Player of the Year if he could stay on the floor longer. He’s only averaging 22 minutes per game, which trails former Kansas stars Thomas Robinson (31.8 MPG in 2012) and Jeff Withey (30.9 MPG in 2013) by a considerable margin. His per-40 minutes average for blocks is five per game, but foul trouble frequently plagues the precocious freshman. In Sports Illustrated’s Power Rankings, Luke Winn shared a stat via Group Stats about Kansas’ efficiency with and without Embiid in the lineup. The Jayhawks are 0.19 points per possession better with him on their front line. That’s a major difference-maker.

8. Nick Johnson – Arizona. Last Week: 7
2013-14 stats: 16.4 PPG, 2.4 APG, 123.1 oRTG

During the non-conference slate, nearly every member of Arizona’s rotation stood out in at least one game to give the Wildcats’ incredible balance. Now that Pac-12 play is in full swing, Nick Johnson is without a doubt their star and go-to guy in the second half. Johnson is averaging 19 points per game in his last five outings while shooting 62 percent from two-point range. Remember, he’s doing that as a guard and not a back-to-the-basket forward.

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Award Tour: Randle Dropping, Parker and Napier Still at the Top…

Posted by Jameson Fleming on December 16th, 2013

AwardTour

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.

We haven’t been doing rankings for Freshman of the Year mostly because this freshmen class is so class loaded that you’ll see two or more freshmen in the top 10 of the National Player of the Year rankings all season. One player who has been noticeably absent or toward the bottom of rankings from all across the web (NBCSports.com, CBSSports.com, Cleveland.com) is Andrew Wiggins. The Kansas freshman was a preseason All-American, but he has struggled to crack those rankings (including this one). Despite his “struggles,” he’s closer than you think. In fact, Wiggins hasn’t really struggled at all. He’s only played poorly in one of Kansas’ three losses, a 10-point performance against Villanova, but has played well otherwise, scoring 15.9 points per game and averaging 20 per game against Kansas’ top four opponents: Duke, Villanova, Colorado and Florida. If Wiggins’ supporting cast gets backs on track like they did against New Mexico on Saturday, you’ll see him in the Player of the Year rankings eventually. He hasn’t been as dominant as expected one month into the season, but it’s way too early to say he’s a disappointment.

Andrew Wiggins is Likely to Find Himself on the NPOY List Sooner or Later

Andrew Wiggins is Likely to Find Himself on the NPOY List Sooner or Later

Player of the Year

10. Roberto Nelson – Oregon State
2013-14 stats: 25.5 PPG, 5.0 APG, 121.5 oRTG

The Beavers’ star continued to excel with 26 points on 16 shots against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Once Pac-12 play begins in a couple weeks, we’ll be able to get a better read on whether Nelson can keep up his elite scoring pace.

9. Jahii Carson – Arizona State
2013-14 stats: 19.9 PPG, 5.2 APG, 114.2 oRTG

Jahaii Carson is struggling through a bum ankle, but that didn’t slow him down much against DePaul. He dropped 23 points on 15 shots, grabbed eight rebounds, and had five assists. Carson’s Sun Devils likely won’t be tested again until an early January date with UCLA. Read the rest of this entry »

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20 Questions: Which Returning Player Will Make the Leap?

Posted by rtmsf on October 20th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the Pac-12 and Mountain West correspondent and a regular contributor.

Question: Which Returning Player Will Make the Leap?

Two seasons ago, Derrick Williams was quite a find as a freshman for Arizona. He averaged 15.7 points, 7.1 rebounds and was the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and a member of various freshman All-American teams. Despite those accomplishments, it was surprising the big leap forward he took last season, when he upped his averages to 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game and did so in insanely efficient fashion, posting the second highest offensive efficiency rating  according to Ken Pomeroy (among players using at least 28% of his team’s possessions). After hitting just four three-pointers as a freshman, he hit 42 as a sophomore and did so at an superb 57% clip.  The year Williams was a freshman, Evan Turner was busy turning in a monster season in Columbus, averaging 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game on his way to winning multiple National Player of the Year awards. While Turner wasn’t nearly the surprise bust-out that Williams was (he did, after all, average 17.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG and 4.0 APG the previous season), both players made huge leaps in their final collegiate seasons on their way to earning NPOY consideration.

Evan Turner & Derrick Williams Both Broke Out In Big Ways

This season, it looks like Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes are the two preseason co-favorites for National Player of the Year honors. But, will we see someone else come up from out of the pack to challenge the frontrunners? For the purposes of answering this question, I’m going to look for a dark horse candidate, and in doing so, eliminate guys like Jordan Taylor and Ashton Gibbs, two veterans who have proven themselves already and who will likely be All-American candidates. Likewise, I’ll eliminate Perry Jones and Terrence Jones from consideration as well — two youngsters who had good if not spectacular freshman seasons but whose amazing athletic ability any old dummy could see.

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ATB: Not So Super Weekend in College Hoops World

Posted by rtmsf on February 7th, 2011

The Lede.  It might have been a Super Weekend elsewhere in the American sports universe, but this weekend’s college hoops slate left a lot to be desired.  There were few good matchups on paper, and even fewer in practice.  It’s hard to get through approximately 165 games, though, and not have something worthwhile to talk about, so we’ll of course ferret out the best of the weekend here.

Derrick Williams & Arizona Are On the Rise (Az Daily Star/D. Sanders)

Your Watercooler MomentGame of the Year? Arizona Beats Cal in a Regular Season Classic.  RTC Live was lucky enough to be there for the 107-105 thriller, and we’re not sure we’ve seen a more back-and-forth, exciting game in a random regular season setting.  Certainly not in person.  The comparison that immediately comes to mind was the 2007 Texas-Oklahoma State game, another game where nobody outside of certain local viewing areas actually saw the action.   With around ten minutes to go, in what had to that point been a fun high-scoring game that visiting Arizona appeared to be in control of, the Wildcats’ Solomon Hill elbowed Jorge Gutierrez on the break, drawing an intentional foul and handing the momentum back to Cal.  From that point on, with the score 59-54, both teams punched and counter-punched each other in a classic final twenty-five minutes of action with more twists and turns than Highway 1 up the Big Sur coast.  The game ultimately changed hands seventeen times and was tied fourteen other times, including after regulation and a first and second overtime.  So many players stepped up for both sides, including Pac-10 FrOY candidate Allen Crabbe (27/7), POY candidate Derrick Williams (12/18), but the star of stars on this night was UA’s sophomore guard Lamont “MoMo” Jones.  The brash New Yorker hit a tough runner (and-1) from behind the basket to send the game into the first overtime, then drained a 22-footer with six seconds to go in the second overtime to tie the game, then made the go-ahead layup with a minute left in the third overtime.  “Just a day in the life of MoMo Jones,” he said afterward, but with Arizona now at 9-2 in the Pac-10 and a game ahead of UCLA in the loss column and two games ahead of league favorite Washington, people around the country should do themselves the favor to learn that Sean Miller’s desert rats are more than simply a dominant post player on the blocks in Williams.  This Wildcat team is a year or more ahead of schedule, but should anyone who has tracked Miller’s career to this point be surprised?

This Weekend’s Quick Hits

[ed. note: our BGTD coverage of Saturday's games is located here, in three parts.  Early Games; Late Afternoon Games; Evening Games.]

  • Buckeyes Roll On.  After Ohio State’s Sunday win over Minnesota in Minny, the Buckeyes are 24-0 with its next game scheduled on Saturday, February 12, in Madison.  The last time any team has gone this late in the year with an unbeaten record was Memphis in 2007-08, a team that didn’t lose until February 23 that year.  The last time a power conference team went undefeated this late was the 2005 Illinois Fighting Illini, who ran out to a 29-0 record before losing in the final regular season game against none other than Ohio State.  That Illini team also went to the national title game before losing a close one to North Carolina.  Certainly with a diversified offense that includes Jared Sullinger as its centerpiece (18/13 against the Gophers), OSU has designs on a similar or even better track than their conference brethren from a half-decade ago.
  • A Wildcat Sort of Saturday.  We mentioned the Arizona Wildcats above, but a couple of other sets of Cats had pretty a pretty good weekend as well.  The Northwestern Wildcats kept what little NCAA pulse they have alive with a nice win over Illinois in Evanston, and the Kansas State Wildcats did likewise with a one-point road win over Iowa State.  Jacob Pullen used the bounce to get to the rim for the game-winning layup with three seconds remaining.  Neither of these wins are blockbusters, but they’re the type that you simply must have if you have designs on making a final push.  The Big 10 Wildcats next five games are against unranked teams, while the Big 12 Wildcats face similar in three of the next four — does either team have the guts to save its once-promising season?  Other Wildcat teams — Davidson, New Hampshire, Villanova and Weber State — also won on Saturday.  Apologies to Kentucky and Bethune-Cookman, though, the sole losing felines.
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Where 2010-11 Happens: Reason #29 Why We Love College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2010

Shamelessly cribbing from the clever NBA catch phrase, we here at RTC will present you with the 2010-11 edition of Thirty Reasons We Love College Basketball as we ramp up to the start of the season a little over a month from now.  We’ll be bringing you players to watch for this season and moments to remember from last season, courtesy of the series of dump trucks, wires and effluvia known as YouTube.  If you want to have some fun while killing time, we encourage you to re-visit the entire archive of this feature from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.  Enjoy.

#29- Where NPOY Happens

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Evan Turner Favored in NPOY Straw Poll

Posted by rtmsf on February 17th, 2010

For the third week in a row, Michael Rothstein at AnnArbor.com has taken a straw poll of nearly fifty journalists from around the nation who have a vote in one of the major national Player of the Year awards (presumably the AP, Wooden, and Naismith).  Like the annual Heisman Trophy analyses that pop up every November, the straw poll gives us a sense as to who the top NPOY candidates are heading into the final few weeks of the season as well as any trends for better or worse that are occuring.  This week’s list, released Wednesday prior to tonight’s games, is below.

Right now it appears to be a two-horse race between Ohio State’s Evan Turner and Kentucky’s John Wall, but for the first time in the three weeks of the straw poll, The Villain received more votes.  It’s unclear whether these votes were tallied before Wall’s near-triple double on Tuesday night, but Turner more than held his own tonight against Purdue with 29/7/5 assts himself (although OSU lost the game).  If DeMarcus Cousins keeps putting in the work for John Calipari’s Wildcats, he could begin shaving off even more of Wall’s supporters, as murmurs of an anti-Wall hype backlash are already surfacing in some circles.

Evan Turner is #1, For Now...

It’s somewhat interesting to us that Scottie Reynolds outpolled Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson in the Big East, even though Johnson has been the more celebrated player throughout the season — their relative placement on this list could literally come down to one game in Syracuse on February 27.  If Kansas keeps winning, expect to see Sherron Collins rise up this list fairly quickly, especially if he has another big game where he leads his team to a close victory.  We wouldn’t think Cole Aldrich will have a similar track, though, simply because his overall numbers are so pedestrian compared to the other names above him on the list (note: we recognize his substantial impact, but NPOY winners have better numbers than Aldrich will have this year).

With nearly four weeks until Selection Sunday, keep in mind that college basketball writers are a fickle bunch.  At this time of year, one particularly inspiring nationally-televised game can seal it for a player near the top of this list.  For example, who could ever forget the dominating Kenyon Martin performance against DePaul that sealed his NPOY award in 2000, or the 30/16 game that a baby-faced freshman Kevin Durant dropped in a double-overtime win against rival Texas A&M in 2007?  There may not seem like there’s a lot of basketball to be played, but writers fairly or unfairly place much more emphasis on the games near the end of the season when making their selections.  It’ll be worth keeping an eye on this straw poll the final few weeks to see how it ends up.

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