Is Jeff Teague a Legitimate Player of the Year Candidate?

Ryan CallahanAnalyst IJanuary 12, 2009

If you missed Wake Forest's win over North Carolina last night, you also missed the best performance from any player so far this season. Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague scored a career-high 34 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point land. He also added six rebounds and four assists.

And for all of the Tyler Hansbrough supporters out there, "Psycho T" just looked like another player on the court. He shot 3-of-12 from the floor for 17 points. He added 11 rebounds and two assists. Wake Forest center Chas McFarland out-played him the entire game, finishing with a season-high 20 points and nine rebounds.

Which leads to the question, is Jeff Teague a legitimate candidate for Player of the Year?

His numbers are there: 20.6 points per game, 4.1 assists per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, and 2.1 steals per game. He has hit 54 percent of his shots from three-point land, making 20 of 37. He also is a great free-throw shooter, shooting almost 85 percent from the stripe on the season.

He also has come through big for his team when they needed him the most. In his last two games against BYU and UNC, he scored 30 points and 34 points, respectively, leading Wake Forest to two key victories. He leads one of the few remaining undefeated teams in the country.

He out-shined the defending player of the year and carried his team to victory against the preseason favorite to win it all. He played nearly every minute and committed just one foul.

Teague demonstrated that he is one of the best guards in the country. He took over the game from start to finish in a way that Tyler Hansbrough has not done in the past two ACC games. He always seemed to hit the key jump shots to get his entire team going, and it appeared as though Ty Lawson could do nothing to stop him.

Hansbrough is not the only obstacle Teague must overcome to capture Player of the Year honors. Blake Griffin and Stephen Curry have also staked their claims as two of the best in the early going.

Griffin is averaging 22.5 points per game and 14.1 rebounds per game while being one of the nation's most dominant big men. Curry has been one of the best scorers in the country, averaging 29.4 points per game and 6.8 assists per game.

Teague has proved he is right up there with the best in the nation and will be in consideration for the Player of the Year at the end of the season.