Earning national Player of the Year recognition is an impressive feat, but there’s a big difference between being the best in any given season and being a great player in a historic sense. Some Player of the Year honorees have stood the test of time, whereas others stand as monuments to the ease with which a great season can turn out to be a mirage.
The latest addition to the pantheon, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, gives plenty of reason to believe that he’ll land on the favorable end of that spectrum. One of the rare freshmen to lead a national title winner, Davis also put up such remarkable individual numbers that he’s unlikely to turn out to have been a flash in the pan.
Herein, a look at Davis and his 24 most recent predecessors, evaluated as both college and (where possible) NBA players, with an eye to picking the best Player of the Year winners in the last quarter century.
Note: The various awards that cover this territory have largely agreed with each other in recent years, but in cases where multiple winners existed for a given season, the Wooden Award winner is the one being considered for this list.