On Sunday, the Atlanta Tipoff Club will announce the winner of the 2013 Naismith Award for national player of the year. Since the last time we looked at the front-runners for Naismith honors, the field has been narrowed to four elite finalists.
Michigan’s Trey Burke, who has already won both the Associated Press and Wooden Player of the Year awards, is unsurprisingly in line for this prize as well. However, he’s not alone. Creighton scoring machine Doug McDermott, Indiana’s do-everything guard Victor Oladipo and Georgetown leader Otto Porter Jr. are all worthy candidates for this year’s hardware.
Which star has the best chance of coming out on top in the Naismith balloting? Read on for a look at the probable order of finish for all four finalists.
Previous Ranking: 1
Otto Porter Jr. made a remarkable surge in Big East play to put himself among the leading contenders for player of the year honors.
Unfortunately for him, team success counts for a lot in this competition, and his Hoyas got bounced by 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast in their March Madness opener.
Key Stats: 16.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game, .422 three-point shooting
Eye Test: Despite brilliant season, turned in consecutive subpar nights in last two Hoya games (both losses).
Winning Edge: Carried Georgetown to regular-season Big East title almost single-handed.
Biggest Flaw: Losing to a No. 15 seed isn’t something a team (or its leader) overcomes easily.
Previous Ranking: 2
It’s hard to blame Doug McDermott too much for Creighton’s third-round loss to Duke when the Bluejay superstar finished with 21 points and nine boards.
Still, 4-of-16 shooting is a dreadful game for McDermott, and even scoring over 40 percent of his team’s points wasn’t enough to make up for it.
Key Stats: 23.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, .490 three-point shooting
Eye Test: Drew double-teams all season and still hit shot after shot.
Winning Edge: Division I’s second-leading scorer was also among its most efficient offensive weapons.
Biggest Flaw: Brings surprisingly little to the table besides his scoring, especially compared to the other finalists here.
Previous Ranking: 5
Like many of these finalists, Victor Oladipo saw his team exit the NCAA tournament earlier than expected.
Unlike the others in that category, though, Oladipo played a terrific game in his team’s swan song. He racked up 16 points (on 5-of-6 shooting) and three steals while only contributing three of the Hoosiers’ horrific 18 turnovers against Syracuse.
Key Stats: 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game
Eye Test: All year long, Oladipo provided the energy (on both ends of the floor) that turned IU into a Big Ten champ.
Winning Edge: Big Ten steals leader edges out Otto Porter Jr. as the most versatile player in the country.
Biggest Flaw: Couldn’t get his top-seeded team out of the Sweet 16.
Previous Ranking: 4
Naismith winners are supposed to play their best in the biggest games, and Trey Burke has delivered in spades. His 23-point, 10-assist showcase saved the Wolverines against top-seeded Kansas, and now he’s two wins away from a national title.
Key Stats: 18.8 points, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game
Eye Test: Burke’s game-saving 30-footer against the Jayhawks is the play of the tournament so far.
Winning Edge: Being the only finalist whose team made the Final Four will give Burke an especially large boost in the fan voting.
Biggest Flaw: Wolverines’ disappointing Big Ten finish is sure to rankle some voters, even if Burke played awfully well throughout the slump.