Udoka Azubuike, Obi Toppin, Luka Garza Headline 2020 Naismith Trophy Finalists

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2020

DAYTON, OH - MARCH 07: Obi Toppin #1 of the Dayton Flyers looks on during a game against the George Washington Colonials at UD Arena on March 7, 2020 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The 2019-20 college basketball season may be over, but there's still some hardware up for grabs.

The Naismith Trophy announced Tuesday the finalists for the men's Player of the Year award: Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, Iowa center Luka Garza, Seton Hall guard Myles Powell, Oregon guard Payton Pritchard and Dayton forward Obi Toppin.

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🗣️The wait is over the 2020 @CitizenWatchUS Naismith Men's POY Finalists have been announced‼️ #Naismith2020 I #whosnext https://t.co/UoRykbw0KD

Unlike last year, when Zion Williamson was the runaway favorite for all of the individual awards, one player isn't head and shoulders above the rest in the race for the Naismith Trophy.

Of the remaining finalists, Toppin might be the top contender. The Flyers star averaged 20.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 blocks as Dayton enjoyed one of the best seasons in program history.

In his final edition of Bracketology, ESPN's Joe Lunardi projected the Flyers to be the No. 1 seed in the East region. The NCAA canceled the men's tournament due to the coronavirus pandemic, bringing an abrupt end to Dayton's quest for a second Final Four bid before it could even start.

Last season, Iowa celebrated the women's Naismith Trophy winner, Megan Gustafson. The Hawkeyes could be honoring the men's winner in 2020.

Garza's 23.9 points per game are fifth-best in Division I, and he nearly averaged a double-double, collecting 9.8 rebounds per game. The 6'11" junior was a dominant force inside.

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Luka Garza has scored at least 20 points in 9 straight games, the longest such streak by a Big Ten player over the last 20 seasons. Garza leads the Big Ten in scoring at 23.1 PPG, and has 18 games this season with 20+ pts, T-2nd most such games in D-1. https://t.co/Vbc0L1w4kP

Azubuike averaged a double-double (13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds) and was the best player on the best team in the country. That could be enough to propel him to the top of the leaderboard.

Pritchard had the misfortune of playing in Ducks phenom Sabrina Ionescu's shadow, or he might have garnered more attention. He concluded his college career with a bang, averaging 20.5 points, 5.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals.

Powell also went out on a high note, averaging 21.0 points and helping Seton Hall win its first regular-season conference title since 1993. Like Pritchard, however, Powell will have a hard time leapfrogging the competition for the Naismith Trophy.

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