Cade Cunningham Headlines 2021 Naismith Men's Player of the Year Semifinalists

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2021

Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham (2)points during an NCAA college basketball game Monday, March. 1, 2021, in Stillwater, Okla. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

And then there were 10.  

On Thursday, the list of candidates for the 2021 Naismith Men's Player of the Year award was trimmed down to 10 semifinalists, three who play in the Big Ten, two who play for Gonzaga and one who is leading Oklahoma State before potentially becoming the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

Here is a look at the 10 semifinalists: 

  • Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
  • Drew Timme, Gonzaga
  • Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
  • Hunter Dickinson, Michigan
  • Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
  • Luka Garza, Iowa
  • Jared Butler, Baylor
  • Quentin Grimes, Houston
  • Herbert Jones, Alabama
  • Evan Mobley, USC

The list will be cut to four finalists on March 16.

One look at the semifinalists paints a clear picture of the 2020-21 college basketball season.

Drew Timme and Corey Kispert have led a Gonzaga team that is undefeated and will surely enter the Big Dance as the overall No. 1 seed if it doesn't slip up in the WCC tournament. Jared Butler of Baylor, Hunter Dickinson of Michigan, Luka Garza of Iowa, Ayo Dosunmu of Illinois and Herbert Jones of Alabama are all stars for teams in contention for the other No. 1 seeds.

The Big Ten is also widely considered the best conference in the country, so it is fitting it has the most candidates.

While Oklahoma State will not be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's tournament, Cade Cunningham is perhaps college basketball's biggest star and will surely be a factor in the race for the Final Four.

The freshman had a double-double of 40 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's win over Oklahoma and has led a Cowboys team that is peaking at the right time to five straight victories.

Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman projected Cunningham as the No. 1 overall pick in his latest mock draft with USC's Evan Mobley, who is also a semifinalist for the Naismith Award, as the No. 2 pick.

They will have to battle for the Player of the Year award in college basketball before they compete to be the top player taken in the 2021 NBA draft.


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