I’ve had Josh Hart atop the National Player of the Year rankings each week because the Villanova Wildcats star has consistently been great for a team again ranked No. 1 in the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one).
And Hart’s still at the top of this list, though Frank Mason is closing the gap.
The Kansas Jayhawks point guard scored 26 points in Saturday’s win at Texas Tech, then added 28 more in Tuesday’s victory at Oklahoma that extended the Jayhawks’ winning streak to 15 games. Mason is shooting 53.2 percent overall and 54.9 percent from 3-point range while guiding a team on pace to win its 13th straight Big 12 title. So he’s statistically great and the top player on one of the nation’s top teams, which is precisely what somebody must be to be seriously considered for National Player of the Year awards.
The top 10 candidates:
1. Josh Hart (Villanova)
He scored 19 points on 13 shots in Saturday’s win over Marquette Golden Eagles , then got 20 points, six rebounds and five assists in Tuesday’s blowout of Xavier Musketeers . The senior guard is averaging 19.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists for a Villanova team that owns six top-50 KenPom wins and has only lost once. He’s the main reason the Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one).
2. Frank Mason (Kansas)
Mason scored a combined 54 points in wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma and is averaging 20.4 points, 5.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds. The senior guard has scored 25 or more points in four games and runs an offense ranked fourth nationally in terms of efficiency.
The best player on a great team is the formula voters are looking for. USATSI3. Caleb Swanigan ( Purdue Boilermakers )
The sophomore forward has 14 double-doubles — and four 20-20 games — in 17 appearances for Purdue (14-3, 3-1 Big Ten), which is ranked 19th in the Top 25 (and one). He’s averaging 18.3 points and 12.9 rebounds while shooting 55.4 percent, and has grabbed at least 10 rebounds in nine straight games.
4. Lonzo Ball (UCLA)
The freshman point guard finished with 21 points, eight assists and six rebounds in Sunday’s win over Stanford and is averaging 14.7 points, 8.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds. He’s shooting 52.8 percent overall and 43.2 percent from 3-point range and is the reason the Bruins lead the nation in effective field goal percentage.
5. De’Aaron Fox ( Kentucky Wildcats )
He got 27 points in Saturday’s win over Arkansas Razorbacks and another 22 in Tuesday’s win over Vanderbilt Commodores . The freshman point guard is averaging 16.7 points, 6.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds. Those numbers rank second, first and third on the Wildcats, who are 4-0 in the SEC with three wins by 20-plus points.
6. Maurice Watson ( Creighton Bluejays )
He finished with 11 points and 14 assists in Saturday’s win over Providence Friars and is averaging 13.2 points and 9.1 assists. The senior point guard is shooting 49.3 percent and leading the nation in assists per game. He has Creighton off to a 15-1 start thanks to an offense that ranks sixth nationally in efficiency.
7. Josh Jackson (Kansas)
The freshman wing has scored at least 16 points in three straight games and is averaging 15.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists for a Kansas team riding a 15-game winning streak. The freshman wing has scored in double-digits in all but two games. He got 17 points and 10 rebounds in Saturday’s win over Texas Tech.
8. Nigel Williams-Goss ( Gonzaga Bulldogs )
Williams-Goss went big last Thursday and produced a 36-point, 11-rebound and six-assist effort in a 95-80 victory over San Francisco Dons . The Washington Huskies transfer is averaging 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists, helping the Zags get off to a 15-0 start.
9. Luke Kennard ( Duke Blue Devils )
The sophomore guard got 23 points in Tuesday’s loss at Florida State Seminoles and leads the Blue Devils in scoring. He’s averaging 20.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He’s shooting 53.2 percent overall and 44.7 percent from 3-point range for Duke (14-3), which still has not lost to a school ranked lower than 45th by KenPom.
10. Johnathan Motley ( Baylor Bears )
Motley struggled in Tuesday’s loss at West Virginia but is still averaging 15.3 points and 9.1 rebounds for a Baylor team ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. The junior forward is shooting 52.1 percent overall and 40.0 percent from 3-point range. He has six double-doubles in 15 appearances.
THE NEXT FIFTEEN (in alphabetical order): Dwayne Bacon (Florida State), Joel Berry ( North Carolina Tar Heels ), Dillon Brooks ( Oregon Ducks ), Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame), Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Amile Jefferson (Duke), Jock Landale (Saint Mary’s), TJ Leaf (UCLA), Lauri Markkanen (Arizona), Kelan Martin (Butler), Malik Monk (Kentucky), Melo Trimble (Maryland), Kyle Washington (Cincinnati).
Source: General Sports