Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett Highlight 2019 Naismith Trophy Preseason Watch List

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2018

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 27: Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils looks on during their game against the Ferris State Bulldogs at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Lance King/Getty Images

The NCAA released its 2019 Naismith Trophy watchlist Monday, with Duke teammates Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish leading the charge.

Duke matches Kentucky's three players (Reid Travis, P.J. Washington and Keldon Johnson) for the most among all schools.

North Carolina senior Luke Maye, arguably the favorite, appears on the list alongside freshman teammate Nassir Little.

Naismith Watchlist Names

Butler G Kamar Baldwin

Duke F RJ Barrett 

Syracuse F Tyus Battle

USC F Bennie Boatwright

Oregon C Bol Bol

Villanova G Phil Booth

Boston College G Ky Bowman

Kansas State G Barry Brown

Nevada G/F Jordan Caroline

Loyola-Chicago G Clayton Custer

South Dakota State F Mike Daum

Purdue G Carsen Edwards 

Marshall G Jon Elmore

Arkansas F Daniel Gafford

Vanderbilt G Darius Garland

Georgetown C Jessie Govan

Davidson G Kellan Grady

Kansas G Quentin Grimes

Virginia G Kyle Guy

Gonzaga F Rui Hachimura

Wisconsin F Ethan Happ

Marquette G Markus Howard

Virginia G De'Andre Hunter

Kentucky G Keldon Johnson

West Virginia F Sagaba Konate

Indiana G Romeo Langford

Kansas F Dedric Lawson

North Carolina F Nasir Little

Nevada F Caleb Martin

Michigan G Charles Matthews

North Carolina F Luke Maye

Indiana F Juwan Morgan

Minnesota F Jordan Murphy

Nebraska G James Palmer

Villanova F Eric Paschall

St. John's G Shamorie Ponds

Duke F Cam Reddish

Virginia Tech G Justin Robinson

Tennessee G Admiral Schofield

South Carolina F Chris Silva

Gonzaga F Killian Tillie

Kentucky F Reid Travis

Kansas State F Dean Wade

Kentucky F PJ Washington

LSU G Tremont Waters

Iowa State G Lindell Wigginton

UCLA G Kris Wilkes

Tennessee F Grant Williams

Duke F Zion Williamson

The watchlist features nine freshmen, seven sophomores, 13 juniors and 20 seniors. An upperclassman has won the award each of the last five years, including four seniors. Trey Burke was the last underclassman to win Player of the Year honors in 2013, and Anthony Davis a year earlier is the lone freshman in the last decade and only one of two in history to pull off the feat.

If you're looking for a fun spoiler, it may come in the form of South Dakota State forward Mike Daum, who has led the Jackrabbits to three straight NCAA tournament appearances. Daum averaged 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game last season and is one of the best three-point shooters in the country.

Maye's top competition may wind up being Kansas forward Dedric Lawson, who sat out last season after a transfer from Memphis. Lawson put up 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.1 blocks per game during his sophomore campaign. He's one of the nation's most well-rounded players and should be the leader of a Kansas team that enters 2018-19 ranked No. 1 in the country.

Despite their hype, it would be a surprise to see any of the Duke freshmen bring home the honors. There is a lot of individual agenda and draft hype to be realized for players to take enough of a lesser role for one to shine enough to win POTY. Duke's success will be dependent on the sum of its parts rather than one individual shining. 

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