BYU Junior guard Jimmer Fredette has generated considerable buzz in recent weeks both in the Mountain West Conference and on the national scene.
Some have even gone as far as to tout Fredette as a dark horse candidate for National Player of the Year.
Fredette is a great, great player. He deserves every ounce of positive publicity he receives. He's had an incredible year.
That being said, Fredette cannot win National Player of the Year.
He is not a candidate, for one simple reason.
Jimmer Fredette is not the best player in his own conference.
That distinction, as of today, should indisputably belong to UNLV Junior guard Tre'Von Willis.
Willis, for some inexplicable reason, has spent the majority of this season in Fredette's impressive MWC shadow. He has received little attention outside of the state of Nevada and virtually no attention at the national level.
This must change.
With no disrespect intended to Fredette, Willis has played him stroke for stroke in conference play, and powered his way in front with a dominating head-to-head performance today.
Willis scored 33 points, hitting 7-of-9 free throws, 11-of-20 field goals, and 4-of-7 threes.
Fredette scored 21 points, hitting 11-of-13 free throws, 4-of-15 field goals, and 2-of-7 threes.
Willis rounded out a spectacular individual effort with five rebounds, two steals, one block, eight assists and no turnovers to Fredette's seven rebounds, two steals, no blocks, six assists, and two turnovers.
Of course, one game does not a season make.
Willis has been consistently incredible since conference play began.
Through nine conference games, Willis has outscored (206 to 190) and out-rebounded (41 to 29) Fredette.
Fredette does have a small advantage in assists (35 to 30).
It is undeniable that both Jimmer Fredette and Tre'Von Willis are exceptional, versatile offensive players. Both are among the nation's best in offensive productivity.
Some forget, however, that there are two sides of the court. While a strong case could be made for Fredette as the Offensive MWC POY (if such a thing existed), defense must also be taken into account.
It is at the defensive end where Willis truly separates himself from the competition at the top of the MWC heap.
Willis is a fantastic defender.
He plays passing lanes well. He is solid in help defense. He takes charges; gets deflections; even contributes an occasional shotblock.
Willis, however, truly distinguishes himself as an on-the-ball, perimeter defender. He is the basketball equivalent of a shut down corner; the Darrelle Revis of the MWC.
His defensive abilities are often overshadowed by his offensive productivity, but make no mistake:
Tre'Von Willis is the best on-ball, perimeter defender in the Mountain West.
By contrast, Fredette is a below average defender. He is slow-footed on defense and struggles mightily to contain quick guards.
On the defensive end, there is no comparison. Willis is ahead by leaps and bounds.
For any fence-sitters, today's game should have pretty much settled the issue. One man demonstrated emphatically, at both ends of the floor, who the MWC's best player is.
His name is Tre'Von Willis.
Spread the word.
He deserves some love too.