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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first time this season that a familiar name has been left out of the Player of the Year Rankings.

Marcus Smart, the preseason favorite to win the award, did not make the list.

Team success factors in, and not only has Smart had his individual struggles, the Cowboys have now also lost three straight and four of their last five.

Individually, Smart has struggled from the perimeter—he's shooting 28.2 percent from deep—which is one of the areas of his game he wanted to improve this year.

Those outside shooting woes should be the least of Smart's concerns. He's hurting his reputation as a winner with OSU's struggles and his act—mainly, the ridiculous flopping that he needs to retire pronto.

It's pretty much a foregone conclusion regarding who will win Player of the Year, and Smart currently has dibs on the biggest flop.

 

10 to Watch

  • Julius Randle, Kentucky
  • Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
  • Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico
  • Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
  • Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
  • Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
  • Gary Harris, Michigan State
  • Casey Prather, Florida
  • Joel Embiid, Kansas
  • Jahii Carson, Arizona State

10. Russ Smith, Louisville

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Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 18.3 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.8 SPG

At one time in Russ Smith's career, Rick Pitino could have said that he had no idea what Smith was going to do next and whether good Russ or bad Russ would show.

These days Smith is a model of consistency. He's scored in double figures in all 23 of Louisville's games. And in his six lowest-scoring games, Smith has still been a big part of Louisville's offense, averaging 6.3 assists.

9. DeAndre Kane, Iowa State

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Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 16.5 PPG, 6.0 APG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG

Even before Monday night's triple-overtime win at Oklahoma State, DeAndre Kane had been the Big 12's most valuable player.

With his performance against the Cowboys and Marcus Smart, he proved it against the preseason favorite to win Big 12 (and National) Player of the Year. Kane put up 26 points, nine assists and nine rebounds and had only two turnovers in 52 minutes. (It's worth noting that one of those turnovers came on a flop by Smart that fooled the officials.)

The book on Smart was that he influenced every aspect of the game and made winning plays. There's no need to throw that description out—just give it to Kane.

8. C.J. Fair, Syracuse

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Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 16.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 SPG

C.J. Fair has been Syracuse's most consistent scorer, but an argument could be made that Tyler Ennis has been the most consistent performer and the MVP of the team. When Ennis isn't scoring, he's usually putting up great assist numbers.

Fair certainly helped his campaign with 28 points in the overtime win against Duke on Saturday. When the lights are on, Fair is usually at his best. Against Syracuse's top three opponents in the ACC thus far (North Carolina, Pitt and Duke), he's averaged 20.3 points per game.

7. Nik Stauskas, Michigan

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Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 17.3 PPG, 3.9 APG, 3.6 RPG

Credit to Indiana's Yogi Ferrell. He did something no one could do all season: slow Nik Stauskas. The sophomore guard scored only six points on six shots in the loss to the Hoosiers.

Before that, all that had slowed Stauskas this year was an ankle injury in late November. Going into Sunday's game at Indiana in Big Ten play, Stauskas was averaging 18.6 points and 4.5 assists and had shot 50 percent or better in six of Michigan's first eight conference wins. He didn't score much on Wednesday against Nebraska (nine points), but he had a good floor game with eight assists. 

At the midway point of the Big Ten season, Stauskas is the league's Player of the Year.

6. Nick Johnson, Arizona

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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 16.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.1 SPG

Nick Johnson had the worst game of his season in Saturday's loss to Cal, scoring a season-low four points on 1-of-14 shooting.

Johnson was due for a clunker after the seven-game stretch he had leading up to the Cal game. Over those seven games, Johnson averaged 19.1 points, making 40 percent of his threes and 57.4 percent of his twos.

He had been the best player on the best team, and one off game wasn't enough for him to take a dive in these rankings. Now the Arizona Wildcats need to get Johnson back on track, as he becomes even more important with third-leading scorer Brandon Ashley out for the year.

5. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati

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Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 19.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.5 SPG

Sean Kilpatrick deserves a lot of credit for helping Cincinnati's offense be good enough to go 10-0 thus far in the American Athletic Conference. Outside of Kilpatrick, the Bearcats are not oozing with talent on that end, but they do not just focus on Kilpatrick's offensive contributions. His Player of the Year credentials go beyond his scoring.

Cincy is winning with defense, and Kilpatrick has been a big part of Mick Cronin's dominant D. Kilpatrick, who is typically assigned to opponent's best perimeter scorer, is allowing only 0.679 points per possession on the defensive end, according to Synergy Sports Technology (subscription required).

4. Xavier Thames, San Diego State

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Otto Kitsinger/Associated Press

Stats: 18.2 PPG, 2.6 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG

Several of the snubs on the Wooden Award midseason watch list are understandable. Voters had to send in their ballots in early January, and at that point you could justify leaving off a few players who made the rest of us yell and scream like Michigan's Stauskas (because Michigan didn't have a great record at that point) and KU's Joel Embiid (he was just starting to break out).

But there was absolutely no reason to leave off Xavier Thames outside of, "They play basketball out west?"

In Thames' latest performance that voters probably missed, he scored 23 points in a comeback win on the road at Boise State. He's averaging 26 points over his last three games. It's time to take notice, Wooden voters, and get this guy on the next watch list.

3. Jabari Parker, Duke

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Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 18.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 1.1 BPG, 1.1 SPG

Jabari Parker has broken out of his scoring slump—he's averaging 18.5 points over his last six games—but continues to struggle with his outside shot. He's made just nine of his last 35 threes.

To Parker's credit, he has refocused on trying to score in the paint. He scored four of his eight baskets in Tuesday's win against Wake Forest on post-ups. For those who wanted to argue that Parker should not be playing in the post, he's proving them wrong.

And after hitting a midseason rough patch that coincided with Parker's, the Duke Blue Devils once again look like one of the best offenses in the country featuring a constant mismatch in Parker.

2. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Stats: 17.9 PPG, 5.7 APG, 6.0 RPG, 1.9 SPG

Connecticut went through a slump that started in mid-December, losing three out of five games after its 9-0 start. Shabazz Napier shot the ball poorly during those three losses, going 14-of-40 from the field.

Napier has been brilliant since, averaging 21.6 points, 5.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds as the Huskies have gone 6-1.

The UConn senior is arguably the most valuable player in the country as far as importance to his team's success, and if he continues producing at this rate, he's a shoo-in as a first-team All-American.

1. Doug McDermott, Creighton

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John Peterson/Associated Press

Stats: 25.0 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.7 APG

It's time for another Doug McDermott ridiculous-efficiency-for-a-high-usage-player update.

McDermott is currently taking 37.9 percent of Creighton's shots and shooting an effective field-goal percentage of 57.5 percent.

To quantify how impressive that is, it's never been done before in the kenpom.com era (dating back to 2003-04—subscription required). No player has ever taken more than 37 percent of his team's shots and shot an eFG percentage of better than 57 percent.

As for McDermott's latest performance, he scored 39 points in a win over St. John's, including the game-winning three in the final seconds. He also knocked down two Dirk Nowitzki-patented one-foot fall-away jumpers (see picture) and a running lefty hook in the lane off the wrong foot (his left).

McDermott has enough on his POY highlight reel already, and it just keeps getting better.

 

C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.

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