UNC basketball has one of the country’s most exciting returning players in point guard Marcus Paige. The rising junior floor general is coming off of a brilliant 2013-14 campaign in which he averaged 17.4 points and 4.3 assists per game, making him a prime contender for next year’s Wooden Award.
Not only is Paige poised to put up huge individual numbers again, but his Tar Heels team—which brought in one of the nation’s best recruiting classes—is also a bona fide Final Four threat. Great players on national contenders are what the Player of the Year voters are looking for, but Paige has no monopoly on that status entering the year.
Herein is a look at five of the other leading candidates to capture Wooden Award recognition in 2014-15, with an eye to evaluating Paige’s chances of outperforming each of them and taking home the hardware for himself.