Syracuse completed an inspired run to the 2013 NCAA tournament Final Four with a win over Big East rival Marquette on Saturday, a run that wouldn't have been possible without the stellar play of sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams.
Those in charge of awarding individual accomplishments didn't fail to notice.
As reported by the Big East's official Twitter account following the conclusion of Syracuse's Elite Eight win, Carter-Williams was named the East Region's Most Outstanding Player on Saturday afternoon:
Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams named East Regional Most Outstanding Player.— Big East MBB (@BigEastMBB) March 30, 2013
He's known as MCW in some circles, but three letters hardly describe the impact that Carter-Williams had on Syracuse's tournament run so far.
Through four tournament games, MCW averaged 13.0 points, 4.5 assists, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game in wins over Montana, California, Indiana and Marquette.
After Syracuse cruised to wins over Montana and California in its first two games, Carter-Williams really got things going in his team's upset of No. 1 Indiana on Thursday night. He finished with 24 points, five rebounds and four steals, making Indiana's highly publicized guards (Kevin Farrell, Jordan Hulls) so uncomfortable that Indiana never got into any kind of rhythm on offense.
Decidedly a first-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft before March Madness, Carter-Williams is starting to raise NBA eyebrows with his most-recent performances. ESPN's Chad Ford pondered after the game if MCW could be a top-10 pick in June:
Another stellar game for Michael Carter-Williams. Peaking at right time. NBA scouts warming back up to him in a hurry. 3 PGs in Top 10?— Chad Ford (@chadfordinsider) March 30, 2013
He has the size (6'6", 185) to be a combo guard at the next level. His shooting from the outside is enough for him to be considered a shooting guard prospect, while his passing ability turns eyes as teams envision a huge point guard in a shooting guard's body.
So far, Carter-Williams' play on both ends has made Syracuse unbeatable in March. The winner of Florida versus Michigan should have a game plan consisting of ways to keep MCW from getting hot in isolation situations and on the fast break.
Who has been the tournament's best guard so far?
For the regular season, Carter-Williams averaged 12.1 points and 7.5 assists.
Syracuse was an early upset candidate in the NCAA tournament, but the team has proved to be hungry and motivated—especially on defense—after blowing an early lead and losing the Big East tournament championship to No. 1 Louisville to end the regular season.
One thing's for sure: MCW is playing lights-out right now. He's a big key to what Syracuse can accomplish in Atlanta, and the tournament committee made sure to reward him as such with the East Region's MOP after his stellar start to tournament play.