Jalen Brunson Named 2018 AP Men's Basketball Player of the Year

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2018

Providence coach Ed Cooley, right, and Villanova's Jalen Brunson (1) react after Brunson made a three point basket during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Big East men's tournament finals Saturday, March 10, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

As his Villanova Wildcats look to win a second national championship in three seasons, junior guard Jalen Brunson has added individual hardware to his trophy case.

Per Aaron Beard and Dan Gelston of the Associated Press, Brunson has been named the 2018 AP Men's Basketball Player of the Year. Arizona's Deandre Ayton, Duke's Marvin Bagley III and Oklahoma's Trae Young were among the award's top candidates.

Brunson became the first Villanova player to win the honor, taking home 36 of 65 votes. The voting process took place before the 2018 NCAA tournament.

Each of the top candidates had strong cases for the award. Young led the nation in scoring (27.4 ppg) and assists (8.7 apg). Ayton and Bagley were double-double machines. 

However, Brunson was the leader of one of the country's top teams.

"It's written on my wall," Brunson said of becoming the best player in the nation and becoming an All-American, per the AP. "It's something that I strived for but never really focused on. I just knew that the more team success that we had, the individual honors would come. I just really focused on what the team needed and how I could be a key contributor."

The 6'3", 190-pound guard has averaged 19.2 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. He is shooting 52.7 percent from the floor, a career-high 41.4 percent from beyond the arc and 81.1 percent from the line.

Brunson led Villanova to a 30-4 regular-season record and was the only one of the award's top contenders to take his team to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Although voting took place before the Big Dance, he is also the only one of the group to lead his school to the Final Four.

Winning the AP Player of the Year is an incredible accomplishment—but Brunson probably thinks the trophy would look nicer with some nylon around it. The Wildcats will face Loyola-Chicago in the Final Four on Saturday at 6:09 p.m. ET.

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