College Basketball: Top 5 Candidates for National Player of the Year

Andrew SilversheinContributor IIIFebruary 7, 2012

College Basketball: Top 5 Candidates for National Player of the Year

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    We have seen some outstanding performances this season, but only one man can receive the Naismith Award for the National Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year. 

    Unlike last season, which essentially featured a two man race for POY between Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker; this year is wide open. It is going to come down to the last few weeks of the season, and who can perform at the highest level.

    Here are my top five candidates to receive the 2012 National Player of the Year Award.

1. Thomas Robinson

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    Right now, Thomas Robinson of the Kansas Jayhawks is the leader in the clubhouse. 

    Robinson has been spectacular in '11-'12. He is averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. Robinson is also shooting an efficient 55 percent from the field.

    He is what you call, "a stat sheet filler." 

    The junior from Washington D.C is a major reason why Kansas is the No. 10 ranked team in the country, which is even more impressive considering they are part of the ultra-competitive Big 12 conference.

    If Robinson continues his high level of play and Kansas finishes the year strong, expect him to win the prestigious Naismith Award.  

2. Doug McDermott

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    Doug McDermott could be the best player that nobody knows about.

    McDermott is the starting small forward for the No. 15 Creighton Bluejays (21-3). The sophomore from Ames, Iowa has been absolutely incredible this season. He is averaging 23.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per contest, while shooting a ridiculous 62.4 percent from the field, 51.3 percent from three and 83 percent from the free-throw line.

    The Bluejays have been one of the Cinderella stories of the '11-'12 season thus far, and McDermott has been the catalyst. Creighton is ranked first in the nation in overall field goal percentage (51.2 percent), second in assists per game (18.7) and sixth in points per contest (81).

    If Robinson falters (even in the slightest), don't be surprised if McDermott gets the nod for POY.  

3. Anthony Davis

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    The No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats (23-1) are one of the youngest teams in the country, and they are led by freshman phenom Anthony Davis.

    The 6'10" freshman from Chicago Illinois is one of the best defensive big men we have seen in quite some time. He has a 7'4" wingspan (shout out to Jay Bilas), and certainly uses it to his advantage.

    Davis is leading the Wildcats in points (14) and rebounds per game (10.1). He is also shooting 66.3 percent from the field, and 70 percent from the free-throw line. Davis' most impressive statistic, however, is that he is averaging just shy of five blocks per contest (4.8).

    Davis tied Shaq's record for blocks by a freshman in the SEC (116) on Saturday, and there are still seven games remaining in the regular season.

    Davis has been the most dominant player on the most dominant team, and he will certainly garner some serious attention from the voters. 

4. Jared Sullinger

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    Jared Sullinger decided to forgo the NBA draft last year, and has led the No. 3 Buckeyes to a 20-3 record this season.

    Sullinger's numbers in '11-'12 are very similar to what he put up in his fantastic freshman season. He is averaging 17.4 points (17.2 in '10-'11) and 9.1 rebounds (10.2 in '10-'11) per contest.

    Sullinger is also shooting 58 percent from the field and 76 percent from the free-throw line.

    Sullinger was injured in the beginning of the season, which could hurt his chances at earning POY. Regardless, he is a dominant college player, and is the centerpiece for OSU's success.   

5. Kevin Jones

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    Bob Huggins' West Virginia squad is sitting at 16-8, but Kevin Jones is having a phenomenal season. 

    The 6'8" senior from Mount Vernon, NY is averaging 20.8 points and 11.2 rebounds per game (he leads the Big East in both categories). He is also recording 1.2 blocks and .8 steals per contest, while shooting 53.3 percent from the field and 76 percent from the free throw line.

    Jones is extremely versatile; he can step out and hit the three pointer (he makes 1.1 per game), or he can post-up on the low block.

    Jones is a long shot to win the Naismith Player of the Year Award, but his high level of play certainly cannot be ignored.