NCAA Basketball Player of the Year Rankings 2013-14: Week 7 Edition
Only one senior (Michigan State's Draymond Green) has been a first-team All-American in the last two seasons.
If the first two months of the season are any indication, the old guys could buck that trend this year.
The freshmen were the story coming in and they're still a big part of this college basketball season, but the seniors have been more impressive as a whole. It shouldn't really be a surprise that guys with experience are outplaying the newbies, but it's hard to believe that are five seniors and two freshmen in the top 10 of the Player of the Year rankings.
Every one of these seniors has evolved his game and is making money for himself based off his play this year. In an era when everyone is in a hurry to get paid as soon as possible, it's pleasant to see.
10 to Watch: Chaz Williams, UMass; C.J. Fair, Syracuse; Jordan Clarkson, Missouri; T.J. Warren, North Carolina State; Nick Johnson, Arizona; Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado; Kyle Anderson, UCLA; Rodney Hood, Duke; Jahii Carson, Arizona State; Aaron Gordon, Arizona.
10. Casey Prather, Florida
Stats: 18.5 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.5 SPG
Florida wing Casey Prather has turned into one of the best slashers in college basketball. To show how well he gets to the rim, let's compare his numbers at the rim to those of Andrew Wiggins, who is projected to be a great pro because of his ability to slash to the basket.
Both have played almost identical minutes. Prather has made 48 baskets at the rim and taken 70 shots there, and Wiggins is 29-of-48 in the same spot, according to Hoop-Math.com (subscription required). Prather does not score outside the arc, but he has been so good at creating his own shot and getting to the rim that he's one of the most valuable wings in the country on the offensive end. To date, even more valuable than Wiggins.
9. Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Stats: 18.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.0 BPG
Adreian Payne is making his decision to return to school look like a smart one based on the work he's doing on the blocks.
Payne scored a career-high 33 points on Saturday against Texas, and he did a lot of his damage from the the post against one of the best interior defenses in the country.
He made six baskets off post-ups and was fouled on four other post-ups. He has become one of the most efficient scorers from the post in the country, as he's scored 52 points on 41 post-ups (1.27 points per possession), per Synergy Sports Technology (subscription required). Payne scored only 53 points on post-ups all of last season.
8. Julius Randle, Kentucky
Stats: 18.2 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.8 BPG
When it's going right for Julius Randle, it's not really fair for the opponent.
Saturday was one of those days. He scored 29 points and needed only 10 shots to get it done in a win against Belmont.
Randle shot 19 free throws—he made 13—and he's now drawing 8.4 fouls per 40 minutes. It's quite the luxury when you can count on your star consistently scoring at the line. Randle has had double-digit free-throw attempts in six games of UK's 12 games.
7. Joseph Young, Oregon
Stats: 19.8 PPG, 2.0 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG
Joseph Young helped the run-and-gun Ducks stay undefeated with a 100-96 overtime win over BYU on Saturday.
What has been so impressive about Young's season is that for a guy who could be a high-volume shooter—and deserves to be based on his production—he hasn't really been a chucker.
Young scored 25 points on a season-high 23 shots against BYU, and it was only the second time this season he's taken 15 or more shot attempts.
6. Russ Smith, Louisville
Stats: 16.8 PPG, 5.0 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.7 SPG
Russ Smith led the Cardinals in scoring for only the second time in the last six games on Saturday against Florida International when he went for 18 points.
Smith continues to be in the running for Player of the Year because even though his scoring numbers are down, he's playing better (and smarter) ball.
Two numbers that show his progression are his shooting inside the arc—55.2 percent this year, up from 45.8 percent last year—and his assist rate—35.3 percent this year compared to 21.1 percent last season, per KenPom.com (subscription required).
5. Marcus Paige, North Carolina
Stats: 19.4 PPG, 4.2 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG
The emergence of Marcus Paige as a scorer with P.J. Hairston no longer around has been the key to North Carolina's season, and naturally it was Paige who sent Saturday's matchup with Davidson to overtime with the game-tying free throws.
The play was set up for Paige to come off staggered screens, which has been a good go-to play for the Heels. Paige scored seven of his 17 points against Davidson coming off screens away from the ball, and he's scored 32 points on 25 possessions coming off a screen this season, per Synergy. That's compared to only 16 points on 22 possessions used coming off screens last year.
4. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Stats: 18.0 PPG, 3.8 APG, 4.4 RPG, 2.8 SPG
Oklahoma State played a ranked opponent (Colorado) on Saturday, so the aggressive Marcus Smart showed up.
Smart scored 18 points in the win against the Buffaloes, and he continues to look to score more against name opponents. In seven games against big-conference schools, he's averaged 22 points per game.
3. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Stats: 15.5 PPG, 5.6 APG, 6.7 RPG, 1.9 SPG
The story for Connecticut in last week's loss to Stanford was Shabazz Napier's struggles down the stretch, when he tried to save his team with hero shots.
Napier responded in a positive way on Sunday at Washington. He struggled to get going in the first half and missed his first four shots, but to his credit, he didn't press and was content with picking his spots. His patience paid off, as he finished with 20 points, making five of his final seven shots to help the Huskies win 82-70 on the road.
2. Doug McDermott, Creighton
Stats: 24.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 0.9 APG
Doug McDermott had one of his more inefficient games on Sunday in a win against California, scoring 20 points on 21 shots.
McDermott's inefficiency was because of struggles from deep, as he missed all five of his threes for the second time this year. (The first time was against George Washington on December 1.) Only this time around, McDermott was still able to get his points and his team a win.
The Creighton star has now scored at least 20 points in 10 of 11 games. And I wouldn't worry about his three-point shot. He's still shooting 40.6 percent from distance even with two 0-of-5 games.
1. Jabari Parker, Duke
Stats: 22.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.3 BPG, 1.0 SPG
Jabari Parker had another strong performance under the lights last week. He's been his best in big games, but really, he's been great in just about every game for the Blue Devils.
One reason for that consistency is the work Parker is putting in away from the ball.
Parker is not a tireless worker running off a bunch of screens—like a Reggie Miller or Richard Hamilton—but he has a knack for putting himself in position to score. Against UCLA last Thursday, he scored most of his 23 points against a UCLA zone. He got in the middle of the zone, worked the short corner and also ventured to the wing.
Most freshmen simply don't have that kind of feel. Parker is comfortable wherever he catches it, and he showed against UCLA he's not always just looking to score either. He also had five assists to go along with 10 rebounds. Just another one of his Player of the Year moments that keep adding up.
C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @cjmoore4.