College basketball’s biggest stars get some official recognition with Tuesday’s release of the early-season watch list for Naismith College Player of the Year honors. The 50-man “roster” features the leading contenders—as determined by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, which administers the honor—for the title of best player in all of college hoops.
Few of those contenders are facing as much pressure to challenge for national Player of the Year award as Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel. The 6’10” center has the shot-blocking chops to be a worthy successor to 2011-12 winner Anthony Davis, and another Final Four-caliber season from the Wildcats will have the nation’s top-rated recruit in the Naismith conversation all year long.
Read on for more on Noel and where he fits in among the 20 players with the best chances to hoist the Naismith hardware by season’s end.