Naismith Award Watch

Story posted February 16, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by By Camden Tofil

With only three weeks left in the regular season, “March Madness” is coming and that means we must look to frontrunners for the Naismith Award, player of the year in college basketball.

1. Trae Young (Guard, Oklahoma)

Even though the Sooners have hit a skid in the past two weeks, on a four-game losing streak, Trae Young should still be considered the clear frontrunner for player of the year. Young scored 19 or more points in each of those losses including a 32-point game against West Virginia.

Young has continued to lead the country in both scoring (29.1 ppg) and assists (9.3 apg). The freshman guard will look to get Oklahoma back on track with a big game versus Texas on Saturday in Norman.

2. Marvin Bagley III (Forward/Center, Duke)

The superstar freshman for the Blue Devils has continued to be one of the top players in the country and has closed the gap on Young for the Naismith Award. Even though Bagley has sat out the past two games for Duke, he was dominating before the injury.

Even in a loss to North Carolina, Bagley was lethal in the post as he went for 15 points and 16 rebounds. He has stayed at his averages of 21.2 points per game and 11.4 rebounds. The potential No. 1 pick will look to push Duke to the ACC crown in the final weeks of the regular season.

3. Deandre Ayton (Forward, Arizona)

The other favorite for being the NBA’s No. 1 pick is the freshman forward in Tucson. Arizona has hit a slump as well in the past couple weeks, but that hasn’t stopped Deandre Ayton from dominating.

Ayton is one of the most athletic players in the country as he had big game last night versus No. 25 Arizona State, where he went for 25 points and 16 rebounds. Ayton will look to get the Wildcats back on track and push for the PAC 12 championship.

4. Jalen Brunson (Guard, Villanova)

After starting the season 22-1, the Wildcats have lost two of their last three games, with both losses being to unranked teams. Junior guard Jalen Brunson has played well for Villanova despite their recent skid.

Brunson has scored 20 or more points in his last four games to maintain his season average of 19.8 points per game. His experience and talent will look to lead Nova out of their recent skid and push for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the third straight season.

5. Luke Maye (Forward, North Carolina)

A newcomer in my Naismith rankings is junior Luke Maye. The UNC forward has helped the Tar Heels recover from the early season struggles. Now the Tar Heels are on a four-game winning streak including a big 82-78 win over Duke.

Maye has made huge strides this season from their national championship last year, as he has upped his scoring from 5.5 to 18.3 points per game. He had a big night against rival NC State where he dropped 33 points and 17 rebounds. Look for UNC to make a late season push towards the ACC title.

Camden Tofil is a freshman majoring in advertising. To contact him, email camdentofil@gmail.com.