NCAA Basketball Awards: Top 5 Candidates for National Player of the Year
Player of the Year
With the NCAA tournament just weeks away, it is time to start narrowing down the list of candidates for the major college basketball awards.
First up is my top five nominees for the National Player of the Year award. These five players have separated themselves from the rest of the pack, and it would take an incredible run from one of the country's other top players for the award to go to anyone else.
5. Victor Oladipo, Indiana
All the talk about Indiana centered around Cody Zeller coming into the season, but there is no doubt that Victor Oladipo has been the best player on the Hoosiers in 2012-13.
Oladipo brings incredible energy and athleticism every night, and he is on the short list for Defensive Player of the Year.
In addition to his phenomenal defense, Oladipo is averaging 14 points, six rebounds, two assists and more than two steals a game, while shooting a blistering 64 percent from the field and 51 percent from three-point range.
Indiana has a two-game lead in the brutal Big Ten conference, and if they close it out, Oladipo has to be considered for National Player of the Year.
4. Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga
Kelly Olynyk wasn't on anyone's radar coming into the season, but at this point, he is impossible to ignore. He has been by far the best player on a Gonzaga team that is currently ranked No. 2 in the country, and he has completely dominated the West Coast conference.
Olynyk is a true seven-footer who is averaging 18 points and seven rebounds, while shooting 66 percent from the field.
Despite all the attention on Cody Zeller this season, Kelly Olynyk has been the best center in college basketball and deserves to be a first-team All-American.
3. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Marcus Smart has been incredible in his freshman season at Oklahoma State, and right now, I have him as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
Smart gives unbelievable effort on both ends of the floor, and he has willed his Cowboys to a surprising 20-6 record this season.
Despite a sub-par shooting year, Smart has done absolutely everything for his team. He is averaging 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals, and he is one of the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year as well.
With the kind of work ethic Smart possesses, the sky is the limit for the young guard.
2. Trey Burke, Michigan
Trey Burke is averaging 19 points, seven assists, three rebounds and less than two turnovers per game in a loaded Big Ten conference this season.
Burke is the best decision-maker in the country, and he is the main reason why Michigan is still in the race for the conference title.
He has scored at least 15 points in every Big Ten game this season, and he is coming off two monster performances last week. Burke can do it all from the point guard position, and he is extremely dangerous with the game on the line.
If the Wolverines can find a way to win the Big Ten regular season title, Trey Burke should be the player of the year.
1. Otto Porter Jr., Georgetown
Otto Porter Jr. and the Georgetown Hoyas have had an amazing season, and Saturday's performance against Syracuse made Porter the current front-runner for National Player of the Year. Porter carved up Syracuse's vaunted zone defense, using his versatility in the middle to exploit the biggest weakness of Boeheim's signature D.
Porter finished the game with 33 points, eight rebounds, two assists and five steals, and he has the Hoyas in first place in the Big East with four games left in the regular season.
Considering Georgetown probably wouldn't even be in the tournament if you took him off the team, Otto Porter Jr. has to be the favorite at this point in the season.