The disabled person of the year award is always a challenge. But in a season that has been marked by program breakdowns and uneven rankings in the league due to COVID-19 challenges, it has never been more difficult to identify the best candidates in each college basketball conference.
Some teams have played 15 championship games. Others played two. Seriously, though. Let’s say that sample size was a problem in this evaluation. The list of potential players this season is long and full of possibilities.
Keep in mind that this could all change in the final weeks of the season, but we think this is a good barometer of the direction each race is going.
Grimes has engineered one of the most surprising turnarounds in the league. He went from a five-star prospect at Kansas to leading a Houston team trying to win first place in the NCAA tournament. He was a 3-point shooter with 38% in the league and averaged 15.8 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game.
After coach Gregg Marshall was fired in November following reports that he had punched a former player and strangled a staff coach, things were not looking good for Wichita State. But Senior Assistant Isaac Brown kept the group together, and Etienne (16.9 PPG, 40 percent from the three-point line in the league) helped his team battle Houston for the league crown.
Jones and Louisville hope to regain their momentum as the postseason approaches, after a late break that could have embarrassed the team. With Jones (17.2 PPG, 5.0 assists per game), coach Chris Mack knows he has one of the best players in the conference and a reliable ballplayer who, according to KenPom, has only sold 13.5% of his assets.
It’s a Duke team that was likely on its way to finishing the postseason without playing in the NCAA Tournament long before Jalen Johnson decided to quit Monday after a season that ended in failure. But Hurt, who is averaging 18.2 PPG in the league, has 44% of his 3-point attempts and 61% of his shots inside the arc in the CCA – amazing numbers that can’t be ignored even though Duke is struggling.
East America Conference
In the lead: Ryan Davis, Vermont Catamarans.
Due to restrictions imposed by COWID 19, Vermont’s season did not begin until the 21st. of December, but the Catamounts wasted no time in reaching the top of the league, which is not unusual. Davis averaged 18.9 PPGs and made 43% of his 3-point attempts in the conference contest, confirming John Becker’s commitment to the program.
Better competition: Brandon Horvath, UMBC Retrievers
He averages 14.8 PPG and leads the conference in boards (8.9 RPG), while his team is tied with Vermont for first place in the league. Horvat also made 39% of his attempts to 3 points for a team that could be half of an exciting game of the East American tournament.
Atlantic Conference 10
In the lead: Nah’Shon Bones Hyland, VCU Rams.
During his team’s current five game winning streak, Hyland is averaging 23.2 PPGs. He also made 39% of his 3-point attempts in the league.
Better competition: Jaylen Crutcher, Dayton Flowers.
Crutcher was a key teammate of Obi Topping last season, with the future Nick of New York winning the Wooden Award. Crutcher is averaging 19.3 PPG this season for a Dayton team fighting for a spot among the top teams in the league. He also scored 40 percent of his attempts to 3 points for Anthony Grant’s squad that lost 7-5 in the Atlantic 10 game this week.
Atlantic Sun Conference
In the lead: Pedro Bradshaw, Knights of Bellarmine.
The Knights are one of the best stories in college basketball and rank first in the Atlantic Sun, where former Division II stars make the four-year transition to Division I. Bradshaw is crucial to the program, as he averages 15.4 PPG and gets to 38% from the three-point line.
Better competition: Blake Preston, Liberty Flame.
They may not all be Bellarmine, but Liberty has been in the game from the beginning. Janvier has only lost one game. And Preston, a six foot center, hits 55% of his shots from behind the arc in the league.
Great Eastern Conference
In the lead: Collin Gillespie, Villanova Wildcats
It feels like Gillespie has played on every Villanova team that has won a national title, but the senior team is a highlight for a Wildcats program that is – surprise, surprise – the best team in the Great East and one of the best teams in America. So far, he has averaged 18.0 PPGs and 5.4 APGs.
Better competition: Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall Pirates
Mamukelashvili (13.6 PPG, 7.2 RPG) was one of the deciding factors in Seton Hall’s current three-game winning streak. He made 50% of his attempts inside the arc and 79% of his free throw attempts in the league.
Big Sky Conference
In the lead: Tanner Groves, Eastern Washington Eagles.
Groves is averaging 19.3 PPGs and 8.2 RPGs – both in the Big Sky top 3, where East Washington is 9-2 and first in the league. He also leads the league in hitting percentage (61%).
Better competition: Ethan Esposito, Sacramento State Hornets.
Some of Esposito’s best performances this season (see: 22 points in a double-digit loss against Cal Baptist on Friday) failed to get Sacramento State into the game. But an efficient 6’1 player averaging 18.8 PPG is doing his best to get a program above 0.500 in the league by the end of the season.
Deep South Conference
In the lead: Davion Warren, Pirates of the Hamptons.
He executed 24.4 PPGs in the Pirates League game, helping Hampton hold onto the top spot in the competitive league. Hampton hit 50% of his shots inside the arc when Warren was on the floor and 37% when he was on the bench.
Better competition: Chandler Vodrin, Winthrop Eagles.
The native of Uniontown, Ohio was a big help for the Eagles, who made 39% of their three-point attempts with Vaudrin on the court. He is also averaging 13.1 PPGs and 7.0 RPGs in league games for a Winthrop team that could win the championship this week.
Big 12 Conference
In the lead: Jared Butler, Baylor Bears.
When Butler made the decision to retire from the NBA draft for the season, it changed the trajectory of Scott Drew’s program and he is now one of two undefeated teams in the country. Butler made 45% of his 3 attempts in the Big 12 and proved to be one of America’s best two-way players on a team that could win its first national championship this season.
Better competition: Derek Culver, West Virginia Mountaineers.
He’s averaging double figures this season – 15.1 PPGs and 10.4 RPGs – for a West Virginia team that has a chance to make a lot of noise in the NCAA tournament. In Saturday’s 91-90 defeat to Oklahoma, Culver took 13 of 23 shots inside the arc.
Big Ten Conference
In the lead: Luca Garza, Iowa Hawkeyes.
Wooden’s accuracy from the 3-point line – 34% in the Big Ten game – declined, but that didn’t change Wooden’s dominance from the field for the Hawkeyes. He’s still averaging 22.1 PPG and Iowa has made 53% of his shots from beyond the arc and 41% of his 3 attempts – Garza draws extra defenders every time he touches the ball, helps – when the big man is on the floor.
Better competition: Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois Fighting Illinois
Dosunmu (20.3 PPG, 40% from the third row) could be Garza’s toughest contender for the Wooden and Big Ten Player of the Year award. His 31-point performance on Thursday in the extension, 77-72 against Nebraska, was another incredible opportunity for Illinois, who have won five in a row, to have Dosunm don his cape and become the superhero the team needs this campaign.
In the lead: JaQuori McLaughlin, UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
If you’re a fan of UC Santa Barbara, you don’t know what it’s like to lose in 2021, because McLaughlin (16.1 PPG, 4.2 APG in championship) didn’t let that happen. He also scored 39% of his attempts to 3 points, another part of his team’s current eight-game winning streak.
Better competition: Colleen Welp, UC Irvine Anteaters.
Welp, who was selected to the Big West’s first team a year ago, picked up where he left off with another outstanding performance. He’s averaging 15.5 PPG and 38% from his 3 in the league.
Colonial Athletic Association
In the lead: Matt Lewis, James Madison Dukes…
Lewis hit 60 percent of his shots at the rim and 41 percent of his jumpers inside the arc, according to hope-math.com. He is also averaging 17.7 PPG and 1.8 SPG in league games for James Madison’s team, which finished first in the CAA this week.
Better competition: Tyson Walker, Northeast Huskies.
He is arguably the most versatile threat in the league, leading the league in interceptions (2.5 per game) while averaging 19.3 PPG in scoring. Four CAA teams did not score 60 points or more against Northeastern, the best defensive team in the conference, with Walker having the best defensive performance.
In the lead: Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.
He made that run in three consecutive games against Power 5 schools in out-of-conference play: 21 points, 14 rebounds in the win over Memphis; 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in the loss against West Virginia; and 13 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in the loss against Louisville. This efficiency has continued in the league, where Bassey is averaging 18.2 PPG, 12.0 RPG and 2.9 blocks per game.
Better competition: Kinsey Air, Marshall Thundering Herd…
Kinsey is averaging 19.5 PPG, which puts the Thundering Herd second in the league with five wins in its last six games. He is also one of the most effective players in the league, shooting 80% from the free throw line, 53% from inside the arc and 46% from the three-point line.
In the lead: Antoine Davis, Detroit Titans of Mercy.
It’s going to be tough to get any reward from a player averaging 24.1 PPG and 42 percent of his three goals in the league, while playing 38.1 minutes per game for his father Mike Davis’ team.
Better competition: Loudon Love, Wright State Raiders.
Scott Nagy’s team finished the week ranked 60th in NET and 55th in KenPom. No other team in the conference has these stats because no other team in the conference has Love, who is averaging 17.4 PPG and shooting 57% of his shots from beyond the arc in league play.
In the lead: Deion Hammond, Monmouth Hawkes.
The problem with a league like this is that the KOVID-19 breaks have created a huge gap in the number of games each team can play: Iona started the week with six championship games, while Monmouth had 14. But Hammond is averaging 16.8 PPG in 14 games for a team that is 10-4 in the league, and that should mean something.
Better competition: Isaiah Ross, Jonah Gales…
Rick Pitino’s team was hit hard by COWID-19, causing many delays. Although Ross, who averages 18.7 PPG and has scored 47% of his three goals in six league games, is the Player of the Year, we haven’t seen enough to fully evaluate him.
In the lead: Lauren Christian Jackson, Akron Zips.
Chicago’s 6-foot-2 guard is one of America’s best players and has scored 30 or more points in four championship games. The senior, who averages 20.8 PPG, is the top player in the program, having won eight of her last nine matches.
Better competition: Danny Pippen, Golden Flashes of Kent State.
The league leader in terms of score (21.8 PPG) also averaged 10.0 RPG and 1.4 BPG for a Kent State team that is still a legitimate contender in the MAC race. You may remember Pippen as the player who scored 13 points in his team’s overtime loss against Virginia in December.
In the lead: MJ Randolph, Florida A&M Rattlers.
He ranks 11th in KenPom in terms of minutes played in the country. But the responsibility of a heavy workload didn’t slow down the 6-foot-1 junior from Pensacola, Florida, who averaged 14.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 6.0 PPG and 2.2 PPG in league play.
Better competition: Blake Harris, Aggies North Carolina A&T
Harris, a former ESPN top 100 candidate, stopped at Missouri and NC State before transferring to North Carolina A&T last year. After retiring last season, he helped Will Jones’ team win its first four games in the MEAC by averaging 14.0 PPG.
Missouri Valley Conference
In the lead: Cameron Krutwig, Loyola Chicago Ramblers.
Three years after helping his team miraculously reach the Final Four in 2018, Krutwig is a legitimate candidate for the All-American Honors after averaging 15.0 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.0 PPG, 1.0 PSU and 1.0 SPG so far. He is also a key player for no. 22 Chicago Loyola on defense, where the team currently ranks first in adjusted efficiency on the KenPom.
Better competition: Gaige Prim, Missouri State Bear
While the basketball world’s attention is focused on the Drake-Loyola clash in Chicago, which split their weekend series, Prime has made Missouri State – winner of five consecutive games – a top team that could take a swipe at the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. He averaged 15.0 PPG (60% inside the arc) and 9.2 RPG in league play.
Mountain West Conference
In the lead: Nehemiah Keta, Utah Aggies.
Last season Craig Smith’s team struggled with injuries, but thanks to this campaign they won their first nine games in the Mountain West. Queta is a two-way power, averaging 12.4 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.0 APG and 3.8 BPG in Conference Play for the top team in the league.
Better competition: Grant Sherfield, Nevada Wolf Pack.
Playmaker Steve Alford is averaging 20.5 PPG in the team’s four consecutive wins this week. He also scored 43% of his 3-point attempts at this rally for Team Nevada, which is now in the running for the Mountain West championship.
North Eastern Conference
In the lead: Damian Chong Kee, Mount St. Damian Chong Kee. St. Mary’s.
The junior goalie, who recently won his third NEC award, has made 41% of his free throws and 86% of his three-pointers in the league. According to Synergy Sports, he also made 57% of his attempts at ground tackle.
Better competition: Alex Morales, Wagner Seahawks.
Morales has scored 20 or more points in five NEC games. He also averages 18.7 PPG and makes 50% of his attempts inside the arc in the league.
Ohio Valley Conference
In the lead: Terry Taylor, Governor of Austin Peay.
The conference leader in scoring (22.2 PPG) and rebounding (11.2 RPG) is also why Austin Peay is expected to be one of the favorites to win the OVC Tournament next month. With Taylor on the court, it’s a team that has suffered a few one-point losses lately and could take over the lead in the standings. (Austin Peay entered the week in fifth place).
Better competition: Nick Muszynski, Belmont Bruins.
He is the leader of a Belmont team that has won 19 games in a row. Casey Alexander’s team has made 62 percent of its shots inside the arc and 38 percent of its three-point attempts with Muszynski on the floor this season, according to hooplens.com.
In the lead: Evan Mobley, USC Trojans.
Mobley is living up to all the NBA hype – he’s the number two pick in the latest ESPN.com draft – with an incredible performance that stands out among the rookies. He is the best player on the best team in the Pac-12, as evidenced by his 60% hitting percentage inside the arc in the league so far. As the race for the Pac-12 crown intensified, Mobley (16.6 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 3.1 BPG) increased his effort and performance.
Better competition: Oscar da Silva, Cardinal Stanford.
The 0-0 Munich forward has had a remarkable 69% of his shots on target this season, according to hope-math.com. And Stanford hit 55% of its shots inside the arc with da Silva (19.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 2.3 PPG, 1.1 PSU) on the floor.
In the lead: Jordan Burns, Colgate Raiders.
The San Antonio Guards averaged 17.5 PPG, 5.3 PPG and 1.7 PPG for Colgate, which is ranked No. 1 in offensive and defensive effectiveness in the Patriot League, according to KenPom. He also made 40 percent of his threes and 88 percent of his free throws in the championship for the top team in the conference as the week approached.
Better competition: Justin Jaworski, Leopard of Lafayette…
Jaworski leads the league with 21.8 PPGs and an average of 1.7 PPG in league games. Lafayette made 51% of his shots inside the arc with Jaworski on the floor and 42% of those shots without him.
In the lead: Cameron Thomas, LSU Tigers…
We’ve seen how Thomas (22.6 PPG) showed his value to Will Wade’s NCAA tournament aspirations in the last two games, when the guard averaged 25.0 PPG (10 for 17 inside the arc) in back-to-back wins over Mississippi State and Tennessee, both by double-digit margins. He scored 17 or more points in nine consecutive games for a USL team that ranks eighth in the Joe Lunardi bracketology this week.
Better competition: Tre Mann, Florida Gators.
Mann was a crucial player in a program that needed to make up for the absence of Keyonta Johnson, who recently announced he would not return after pulling out of a game against rival Florida State in December. Before the break on the third. In December, the team had won four of its last five games. Mann (14.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.5 SPG), who had scored 38% of his 3 championship points, thrived and helped Florida maintain its postseason hopes during a difficult season for Mike White’s program.
In the lead: Isaiah Miller, Spartans of Greensboro QN.
Miller, Southern Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, maintained his dominance. For the week, it ranked in the top 10 in terms of scores (18.3 PPG), rebounds (7.2 RPG) and passes (3.4 APG) for the highest ranked team in the conference. The two-way threat also leads the conference in flights (2.6 GSP).
Better competition: Stormy Murphy, Wofford Terriers.
You wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Jay McCauley told you that Murphy drives the team bus for away games, because Murphy seems to do everything for the team. He’s averaging 17.7 PPG (39% behind the arc in league play) and 4.1 APG while leading the conference with 88.1% of the charity stripe.
In the lead: Gavin Kensmill, Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks
Kensmil, who is averaging 16.4 PPGs and 7.7 RPGs in the championship, played a key role in his team’s 10-1 victory in its last 11 games. He did three double-doubles in the conference and was the catalyst for a Stephen F. Austin team that made 60% of its shots inside the arc in the league.
Better competition: Colton Cole, Abilene Christian Wildcats.
Other players in this league have more, but few can match Kohl (13.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.4 BPG in the league) to Abilene Christian (No. 30 in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom), who played tied for first place with Sam Houston State this week. ACU has scored 1.10 points per possession this season (compared to 0.89 previously) and is holding opponents to 43.2 percent shooting when Kohl is on the floor.
In the lead: Max Abmas, Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.
The 6-foot-2 native of Rockwall, Texas, has scored 30, 42, 34 and 37 points in league games this season, making him one of the most explosive players in the country. Abmas averaged 25.5 PPG in the conference game. Abmas (23.2 PPG) is the second highest scorer in the country behind Luca Garza, scoring 44 percent of his three goals and 90 percent of his free kicks in the Summit League.
Better competition: Baylor Sheyerman, South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
Although teammate Douglas Wilson was named the preseason player of the year, Scheierman emerged as the top player in the state of South Dakota, ranking third in the league standings prior to the week. Scheierman is averaging 15.3 PPG and hitting 39 percent of his three-second shots, while leading the league in rebounds (10.8 per game) and assists (5.0 per game).
Sun Belt Conference
In the lead: Michael Flowers, Southern Alabama Jaguars.
Western Michigan’s transfer and the league’s top scorer with 21.5 PPG moved Richie Riley’s team into second place with a six-game win streak. The Flowers have used their shot-making ability (39% from the conference arc) to score 10 attempts totaling 25 or more points this season.
Better competition: DeVante Jones, Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
The 6-foot-5 guard has turned Coastal Carolina – the league’s fastest game, according to Synergy Sports – into a powerful transition operation, hitting 67% of his field-goal attempts on the assist sheet and generating revenue on only 10% of those possessions, according to Synergy Sports. He is second in the league for points (18.7 PPG), seventh for field goal percentage (7.0 PPG), sixth for field goal percentage (45.2%) and fourth for free throw percentage (90%).
In the lead: Tristan Jarrett, Jackson State Tigers.
While complications with COWID-19 limited his team to just six league games earlier in the week (some SWAC teams played as many as 12), Jarrett lived up to the excitement attached to his name when he was named player of the week in this year’s pre-season competition. He is averaging 22.2 PPGs per at bat in the league, with 50% of his hits on the arc for an undefeated Jackson State team that is in first place in the league standings.
Better competition: Cam Mack, A&M Panthers with Prairie View
The other unbeaten team in the league also leads the league in terms of attendance (9.2 per game) and visitor-turnover ratio (3.4 to 1). In addition, Mack – a transfer from Nebraska who ranks fifth with 14.2 PPG – is a vital defender on a team that has held its opponents to 95 points per 100 possessions this season, according to hooplens.com.
In the lead: Darryon Trammell, Seattle Redhawks.
Despite his team’s 2-3 record in its first five games, Trammell – the top scorer in the WAC – has averaged 24.8 PPGs with 50 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and 79 percent of his free throws hit so far in the league. Seattle also took 52.4 percent of its shots inside the arc with Trammell on the floor, according to hooplens.com, and 40.7 percent of those same attempts without him.
Better competition: Asbjorn Midtgaard, Antelope Grand Canyon…
Last week, the 6-foot-2 Dane averaged 14.8 PPGs, 9.7 RPGs and 1.2 PSUs as Grand Canyon led a team ranked 22nd. The month of December is no longer lost. With Midtgaard in goal, Grand Canyon made 56.3% of its shots inside the arc in the league, while rivals made just 44.7% of their attempts (KenPom).
West Coast Conference
In the lead: Drew Timme, Gonzaga Bulldog.
A key member of a Gonzaga team with three players who could win All-American honors, Timme has shifted gears since the start of the conference race. In his first 11 games at the MCC, he had averages of 19.4 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 1.1 BPG, while leading the conference with a field goal percentage of 67%. He has also scored 20 or more points in seven of his team’s last nine games.
Better competition: Cory Kispert, Gonzaga Bulldogs.
You could give a spot in this race to Jalen Suggs, a newcomer and future lottery pick, but Kispert is the king of consistency for Gonzaga, as evidenced by his clip of 44% from the 3-point line in league play. America #1 has made 66% of her shots from beyond the arc this season and 39% of her 3-point attempts with Kispert on the court.
frequently asked questions
Who will be the best college basketball player in 2020?
10 candidates for the Player of the Year award for the 2020-2021 college …
Who are the best college basketball players this year?
The Top 105 college basketball players for 2020-21 – Graphic Chronicle.
Who are the best basketball players of all time?
The best college basketball players of all time: 25 The best of everything
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