Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III Headline 2018 Naismith Award Finalists

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 13, 2018

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2018, file photo, Duke's Marvin Bagley III (35) dunks the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia in Durham, N.C. Bagley was named the ACC player of the year, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown, File)
Ben McKeown/Associated Press

With March Madness upon us, the finalists for the 2018 Naismith Award—given to the top player in men's college basketball—were announced Tuesday.     

Arizona forward Deandre Ayton, Duke forward Marvin Bagley III, Kansas guard Devonte' Graham and Villanova guard Jalen Brunson all made the cut, courtesy of NCAA.com:

Behind Ayton, Arizona won the Pac-12's regular season and conference tournament titles. The 7'1" Wildcats big man led his team with 20.3 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.

Bagley, on the other hand, led Duke to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils freshman averaged 21.1 points and 11.5 rebounds while posting 21 double-doubles throughout the season.

While Ayton and Bagley are both in the mix to be the No. 1 overall pick in June's NBA draft, the other two finalists—Graham and Brunson—helped their respective teams grab No. 1 seeds in the Big Dance.

With Graham, Kansas captured its 14th consecutive Big 12 title and won the conference tournament. The senior guard averaged 17.3 points, 7.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game in 2017-18.

Brunson averaged 19.4 points, 4.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds per contest as a junior, highlighted by a 31-point performance in the Big East Championship Game victory over Providence.

All four finalists have individual stats worthy of the award, and to top it off, their respective teams were among the best in the country. 

The winner will be announced April 1.

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