Who Will Be Named NCAA Player of the Year?

NCAA Player of the Year The NCAA has been under a microscope recently and we’re not just talking about FBI investigations into corruption. Mainstream and social media has been abuzz with stories shedding a bad light on the association. This is a wake-up call not only for the educational institutions, their basketball programs, the alumni, and fans. Changes are coming, but they are further down the road. Until these changes arrive, teams play on with the 2017-18 National Championship on the line.

While basketball is a team sport, individual performances for the season are celebrated and honored with the Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year award. And celebrations are exactly what the NCAA needs right now to help everyone move on and move forward.

So who are the players in the conversation for the NCAA Player of the Year?

Early in the season, almost everyone would have said that Oklahoma guard Trae Young had this in the bag. However, his production has slowed recently which has tightened up the race considerably.

Trae Young

Trae Young, Oklahoma

Young has an amazing skill set and was just killing it up to January 2018. Kansas unveiled some of the Sooners’ (and Young’s) weaknesses and the other teams took note. They clamped down on Young even if he didn’t have the ball, mounting enough pressure to disrupt his impressive offensive game, forcing him to commit far too many turnovers for any coach’s liking. Despite the slide and Oklahoma needing to get lucky squeak into the NCAA Tournament, Young’s averages of 30.1 ppg and 9.9 apg in the first 16 games of the season cannot simply be swept under the rug, keeping him as the favorite to win the NCAA Player of the Year award. These are interesting times indeed. It’s been a while since an NPOY winner could come from a school far removed from championship contention.

Well if not Trae Young, then who else is deserving or worth discussing to win the award?

DeAndre Ayton, Arizona

Ayton played like a madman in February, averaging 24.3 points and 15.3 rebounds per game. Unfortunately for Ayton, Arizona is not on top of any popularity lists given the negative light brought by the scandal involving coach Sean Miller and a wiretapped conversation with him discussing a $100,000 payment to an agent. While his program is marred in all sorts of ugly at the moment, Ayton’s game shines brightly and brilliantly cutting through the darkness. His game is there, but the votes won’t likely be.

Devonte Graham

Devonte’ Graham, Kansas

Graham was unanimously named the Pac-12 Player of the Year, ahead of Trae Young, so you can easily see how he makes a case to win the overall title. He led the Jayhawks to a 14th consecutive conference title and is averaging 17.7 ppg, 7.2 apg, and 1.6 spg. He gets a bit of extra time in the spotlight thanks to his team performing very well this season, but does he have enough in his stat resumé to be a convincing winner of the award?

Marvin Bagley III, Duke

Bagley is an imposing forward, who is simply bigger, stronger and more imposing than a lot of his counterparts. His readiness, physically, helps us understand why he opted to apply to be reclassified for the class of 2017. Bagley has been a big part of Duke’s success this season with averages of 20.7 ppg and 11.1 rpg. Unfortunately, his NPOY campaign took a hit when he missed a few games with an injury, as well as a pronounced decline in his production in February. The fact that Duke was able to thrive during his absence, puts into question his earning being called a “most valuable player.”

Did he come in too soon? We will never know as he’s expected to be a one-and-done player who will apply for the 2018 NBA Draft.

Jalen Brunson, Villanova

If there is anyone who makes a strong case to be considered over Trae Young, it is definitely Brunson. He’s a junior who has paid his dues and has been a pillar of consistency for Nova with his season averages of 19.1 ppg and 4.8 apg. He’s making an impact for a potential overall No.1 seed in the tournament and has proven to be a guy who is simply the one you look to close things out for a win. There are a lot of praises being sung about Brunson and how invaluable he has been to Villanova this season, but are they enough to bag him the NCAA Player of the Year Award?

Other Players in the Conversation:

 

Trevon Bluiett, Xavier – His team could finish as the top seed and he’s played a solid 2017-18 season.

Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State – He’s the Big 10 Player of the Year and his defense could just power the Buckeyes to a Final Four appearance.

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