NCAA Basketball Player of the Year Rankings 2013-14: Week 6 Edition
A couple of weeks ago, hero ball knocked Marcus Smart from the top spot of the Player of the Year rankings.
On Wednesday night, Shabazz Napier's hero ball cost him the top spot and his team the game against Stanford.
Napier's shot selection was horrific down the stretch against Stanford. The senior point guard's job should be to put his team in the best position to win, and instead, he was chasing that hero moment like the one he had against Florida.
Smart took his medicine and eliminated the low-percentage shots from his game the last few weeks. Napier needs to do the same. He's too good and too savvy to settle for throwing up prayers in a close game just because he had one answered against the Gators.
10 to Watch: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas; Jordan Adams, UCLA; Jordan Clarkson, Missouri; Keith Appling, Michigan State; C.J. Fair, Syracuse; Nick Johnson, Arizona; Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga; Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado; Kyle Anderson, UCLA; Rodney Hood, Duke.
10. Casey Prather, Florida
Stats (10 games): 18.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.6 BPG
It was hard to believe that Casey Prather's quick start was going to last. Prather, after all, averaged 3.1 points per game in his first three seasons in Gainesville. And he was forced into a scoring role early on because of suspensions and injuries.
But the Gators are almost back to full strength, and Prather keeps scoring. He had 22 points in Tuesday's win against Memphis at Madison Square Garden. He's found his niche as a slasher, and he's been so good that now it's becoming tough to see his role changing.
9. Julius Randle, Kentucky
Stats (11 games): 17.2 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.7 BPG
Julius Randle is putting up decent numbers lately—14 points per game over UK's last five games—but those are not the kind of numbers that were expected after he overwhelmed defenses early in the year.
What's changed is Randle is seeing more double-teams and his teammates aren't really making opponents adjust. The Wildcats are shooting just 32.6 percent from three, and until they start shooting more consistently, it's going to be difficult for Randle to put up great numbers consistently.
8. Joseph Young, Oregon
Stats (10 games): 19.3 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.6 SPG
Oregon guard Joseph Young has been able to score so consistently this year—all 10 games in double figures—because of his ability to score in transition.
Young is averaging 8.0 points per game in transition (80 points in 52 possessions), per Synergy Sports Technology, which is tied for the most in the country with Louisiana Tech's Raheem Appleby.
7. Chaz Williams, UMass
Stats (10 games): 16.3 PPG, 7.9 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Chaz Williams had his third double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 assists on Wednesday night in a win over Ohio.
It's a compliment to Williams' playmaking skills that on a night he struggled shooting the ball, his team still put up 83 points.
6. Russ Smith, Louisville
Stats (11 games): 16.6 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.8 SPG
Russ Smith is in a bit of a scoring drought. He's gone five games without reaching 20 points, and he's not shooting the ball great either—he's made just four of his last 19 threes.
Yet Smith has probably helped his draft stock during this time because he's proving more and more that he can set up teammates in a point guard role.
Smith had 18 assists in two games this past week. He's doing a create job of drawing two defenders and finding the open man. In the long run, Louisville and Smith will both benefit from his emphasis on creating for others.
5. Marcus Paige, North Carolina
Stats (10 games): 19.6 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.6 SPG
Both of North Carolina's home losses—Belmont and Texas—could have been avoided with halfway decent free-throw shooting, and it's not really fair to dock Marcus Paige for those two losses.
Against Texas on Wednesday night, Paige made all eight of his free throws. His teammates made 16 of 41. Against Belmont, Paige went 4-of-5 at the line. His teammates went 18-of-43.
Paige has been great thrown into his role of go-to scorer for the Tar Heels, but he's helpless when his teammates are bricking free throws.
4. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Stats (11 games): 18.0 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 3.0 SPG
Marcus Smart wasn't very aggressive this last week, scoring 13 points on eight shots against Louisiana Tech on Saturday and then eight points on five shots against Delaware State on Tuesday.
Smart letting his teammates take a majority of the shots against small schools has become a developing theme this year. In six games against big-conference schools, Smart is averaging 22.7 points per game. In five games against mid-majors, he's averaging 12.4 points per game.
Of course, part of that has been getting back to letting the offense come to him after he was overly aggressive against Butler and Memphis.
3. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Stats (10 games): 15.0 PPG, 6.1 APG, 6.8 RPG, 2.1 SPG
Shabazz Napier was having his typical game against Stanford until the final seven minutes, 30 seconds that were addressed in the opening. Napier missed his final five shots, none of which would fit in the good-selection category.
Until that point, Napier was 4-of-8 with 12 points and eight assists. He was really good against Stanford's man-to-man, but a zone defense made UConn stagnant, and part of that is on Napier.
The good news is this was just a game in December. He'll learn from it and get better.
2. Doug McDermott, Creighton
Stats (10 games): 25.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 0.9 APG
Doug McDermott has become the best scorer in college basketball because there's never any wasted motion. McDermott puts himself in scoring spots and is ready to finish when he gets the ball.
McDermott scored 25 points on 11 shots the last time out against Arkansas Pine Bluff. Not one time did he get a bucket or get to the line by taking more than one dribble.
The big question mark going into Big East play is if McDermott can score against bigger and better defenders, but that should be an irrelevant point when it comes to McDermott because he doesn't score off simple isolation, one-on-one plays. He scores because of good offense and being ready to score when his opportunities arise.
That's why he'll be a solid pro and why he's been such a efficient scorer at Creighton.
1. Jabari Parker, Duke
Stats (10 games): 22.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.1 APG
Jabari Parker does at least one thing every game that makes it worth tuning in. He didn't make any overly spectacular moves on his way to 21 points on Monday against Gardner-Webb, but that's because the expectations for Parker's spectacular are so high.
Parker made both of his step-back jump-shot attempts, which is one of the toughest shots in basketball and one that he makes look relatively easy. He also made all six of his free throws, which is a good sign, considering how much Duke continues to go through the freshman. He's now made 21 of his last 25 attempts after starting the year off 22-of-32 at the line.
He's the most complete offensive player in college basketball, and he's been the most consistent performer for any of the big-time programs a quarter of the way through the season.
C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @cjmoore4.
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