With seven weeks of the season in the books, the stars of college hoops are separating themselves from the pretenders in the race for the Naismith Award. Some top-tier players have fallen well short of their preseason billing, while others have surpassed it by a mile.
One of the latter standouts is Louisville’s Russ Smith, who wasn’t even on the Naismith’s preseason watch list. The high-energy shooting guard has leapt into the top 25 in the country in scoring while continuing to play superlative defense.
Of course, Smith isn’t the only surprising name among the frontrunners for Player of the Year honors. Read on for a closer look at the biggest advantages—and disadvantages—on the Naismith resumes of each of the top 20.