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College basketball award races heating up

Junior+guard+Jalen+Brunson+dribbles+down+the+court.+
Junior guard Jalen Brunson dribbles down the court.

Junior guard Jalen Brunson dribbles down the court.

Wikimedia.com

Wikimedia.com

Junior guard Jalen Brunson dribbles down the court.

Titus Perez, Sports Writer

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Championship week is upon us in college basketball, which means the award races around the country are heating up. Many conferences have already named their player of the year along with their all-conference performers. The Naismith award, which is given to the top player in the NCAA, will not be given out until later, but most people have a good idea of who is in the running to win the award.

Let’s look around the country and analyze the top competitors for the award.

DeAndre Ayton is a 7’1” Center who plays for the University of Arizona Wildcats. He’s been the topic of discussion around the nation because of the allegations that he was paid to play for the Cats. Even with all the drama, he’s probably been the best big in the entire nation this year. The freshman from the Bahamas is averaging 19.9 points per game, 11.4 rebounds to go along with 1.9 blocks and 1.6 steals. He has already won freshman of the year and player of the year in the Pac-12 conference. He has lead Arizona to a 24-7 record and they sit currently as the number 15 ranked team in the country. There is no doubt he should be considered for the award, but I think the seven loses are hurting him. The Pac-12 is down this year as far as overall talent, so many believed the Wildcats should have dominated the conference and they haven’t, although they did win the regular season crown. The Wildcats also had a three game losing streak in which they lost to less talented teams like North Carolina State University and Southern Methodist University. I can’t see him finishing any higher than runner-up.

Marvin Bagley III is the second of three freshman on my list. He is an ultra-athletic forward, standing about 6’10 with the ability to score on anyone. The Duke standout leads the team in points (20.7) and rebounds (10.7). He too has already won freshman and player of the year in his conference, beating tough competition for those awards playing in the ACC. Bagley’s play has dropped lately, as teams have forced him to shoot outside the paint more, while also fouling to force him to make free throws. Still, looking at Bagley’s numbers, nobody can deny him at least the consideration to be named POY.

Duke has one of the best starting five’s in the country. Because of this, their offense is one of the most efficient. Bagley is going to lose votes because of his supporting case. While the other members of the POY conversation are the heart and soul of their team, Bagley is merely just a piece of the engine. Thus he will most likely not be named POY.

Trae Young is the last of three freshmen on the list and like the other two I mentioned before, he was also freshman of the year in his conference, losing out on Big 12 POY in favor of Kanas University Jayhawk guard Devonte Graham. Young averaged a nation leading 27.5 points to go along with a nation leading 8.9 assists. That alone marks him as my POY. The fact that he was able to do this in the Big 12 conference as a freshman is mind-blowing. The Oklahoma University Sooners suffered a six game losing streak a few weeks back, which probably decreased his chances of winning the award, but not for me. Take Russell Westbrook winning the NBA MVP last year as the example here. No, Westbrook didn’t play on one of the contending teams in the league, but his statistics were too hard to ignore, thus he won the award. For me, the same applies in this case.

However, Jalen Brunson might be the eventual winner of the award. Of the players mentioned, his team is highest ranked as they sit at number two in the nation. Brunson has lead the University of Villanova Wildcats to a 27-4 record while averaging nearly 20 points and 5 assists. While the other candidates numbers are better, voters will argue he led his team to more wins than Young and Ayton while being more valuable then Bagley III, I myself would disagree

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
College basketball award races heating up