Early Contenders: NCAA National Player of the Year- Guards
Alright everyone, last week we gave you the apples, this week we’ll talk about the oranges. While the post players are stronger overall this year (and you can see them by clicking here), there are some guards having tremendous seasons, and they will definitely factor into this year’s National Player of the Year race. Here are my guard rankings for National Player of the Year so far (all stats are as of December 16):
1. Trey Burke (Michigan)- Trey is the starting point guard for the number two team in the nation. He is playing extremely well and does whatever his team needs. He is shooting a blistering 53% FG (Field Goals), 38% 3 PT (3-Point Shot), and 76% FT, giving him a team leading 18 ppg. Not only does he score, he is great at creating opportunities for his teammates and is averaging 7 assists per game. He’s putting up 3.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and is the leader on a deep team that has three other players averaging double-digit scoring.
2. Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse)- Some people would argue that Michael should be #1 on this list, and they would have a very good argument. So how does the third leading scorer on his own team end up in the player of the year race? Well, he literally does “everything else”. He helps out his bigs by grabbing rebounds (5.2) and blocking shots (1 per game). He also does things that elite guards do – he leads the nation in assists (10.8) by a wide margin, he is second in the nation with steals (3.7), and then also scores 12.3 points per game. The only real knock is he is struggling with his 3-point shot and is only making 23%. If he keeps stuffing the stat sheets like this all year he will be in the hunt.
3. Brandon Paul (Illinois)- Brandon is a senior, and started out the season well, but continues to improve. He had a huge outburst of 35 points against a very good Gonzaga team. He is involved in all aspects of Illinois’ game and averaging 19 ppg, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He is shooting a highly respectable 47% FG, 41% 3PT, 72% FT, and is a threat from anywhere on the floor.
4. Erik Green (Virginia Tech)- The Hokies were playing far above the expectations early in the season, and are starting to come back to earth. The Hokies have only lost 2 games this year and Green played well in both losses scoring 23 and 28 points respectively. He is second in the country in scoring with 24.8, shooting 52% FG, 35% 3PT, 90% FT. He is averaging 4.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.8 steals. Considering his play and the numbers he has put up, it was hard to keep him off the list because he earned it, but I would not be surprised to see him drop off by the end of the year.
5. CJ McCollum (LeHigh)- You have to be careful when including players from small schools and be cautious about the stats they are producing. However, if you have seen CJ play or watched him dismantle #2 Duke in last year’s March Madness, you know this is a legit elite basketball player. Expect to see him drafted in the lottery of next year’s NBA draft. He is the only guy in the NCAA that has a higher average than Erik Green at 24.9 ppg. If you knew he was shooting 51% FG and 83% FT you’d think he was having a very good year, but once you throw in the 52% 3-PT, you realize it is a stellar scoring streak that he is on.
There are about 10 additional guards that slot in after the above five. Some are surprises, and some have had a slow start to the season but I expect them to be on this list be the end of the year. They include Russ Smith (Louisville), Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), Ben McLemore (Kansas), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), CJ Wilcox (Washington) and a few others.
.. and that’s the last word!
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