What better time to talk about the college basketball player of the year candidates than when conference play begins around the NCAA? This is the best time of the college basketball season because we really get to see where basketball teams are at, which teams could become this year’s cinderella story, and which teams are playing well-below expectations.
- Josh Hart / Villanova — Being the best player on the best team in the country gives Hart a “one-up” on every other basketball player in these rankings. The 6’6” senior guard has exceeded expectations in the 2016-2017 season. Hart is averaging 20 points per game, almost 7 rebounds per game and 3.5 assists per game. He’s had 11 rebounds in three different games, one in which he had a triple double (v. St. Joe’s; 16 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists). More importantly, Hart has become a more efficient shooter with a 56% field goal percentage compared to 2015-2016 (51.3%) including a 40% 3-point percentage and 81% free throw percentage. The 14-0 Wildcats will ride Hart into the NCAA tournament and Big East play.
- Frank Mason III / Kansas — The 5’11” senior guard is shooting almost 54% from the field while averaging almost 20 points per game including 6 assists and 5 rebounds per game for the 12-1 Jayhawks. Mason is the heart beat for the Jayhawks offense. Incredibly, Mason III has improved his field goal percentage by almost 11 percentages points and his 3-point field goal percentage by almost 10 points compared to last season. Mason III has at least 7 assists in each of his last four games.
- Luke Kennard / Duke — The 6’6” sophomore guard has recently had more pressure placed on his shoulders with the suspension of Grayson Allen. Fortunately for the Blue Devils, Kennard has accepted the pressure and did all he could in their loss to Virginia Tech (34 points, 7 rebounds, 50% 3-pt percentage). Unfortunately for Duke, Kennard cannot win games by himself because Duke’s offensive game plan does not rely on one player. Despite this, Kennard has shot 52% from the field and 42% from 3-point range while averaging 21.4 points per game.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STP4-DUn0yI