NCAA Football

College basketball player of the year rankings: Purdue’s Zach Eady leads tight race

College basketball player of the year rankings: Purdue’s Zach Eady leads tight race

Qualifying Sunday for the 2023 NCAA Tournament is just two months away as the college basketball season reaches its midpoint and the national scene begins to take shape. While the conference highlights are still to come, we’ve seen enough action to see who is in the running for some individual athletic honors, including Player of the Year.

Very similar to the Heisman Trophy college football, the national player of the year in college basketball often ends up being a team award. It’s unusual to see a winner come from a program that wasn’t one of the best in the country during the season. Although this may not be fair to some of the game’s top scorers such as Anthony Davis with Detroit or Jordan “Jelly” Walker UABthis is reality.

The realities of the team-oriented nature of the award also have some notable candidates from power conference programs in the race. Oscar Tibwe with Kentucky, Armando Bacot with North Carolina, Trace Jackson-Davis with Indiana and Hunter Dickinson of Michigan each ranks among the best in our preseason college basketball rankings Top 100 and 1 the best players. However, each of their teams has been underachieving, and that may need to change before either can sniff out player of the year talk.

So who are the favorites for the award? Let’s look at the five most obvious candidates.

PPG: 21.9 | Role playing game: 13.2 | FG PCT: 63.1%

Purdue’s 7-foot-4 center is towering over the competition for the Big Ten Player of the Year, and the No. 3 Boilermakers are off to a surprising 15-1 start after they were unranked earlier in the season. After playing just 19 minutes per game last season while splitting time with Trevion Williams, the junior has seamlessly transitioned his effectiveness to a much bigger workload. Eddy is currently averaging 31.3 minutes per game and is tied for first in the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding and second in blocks.

Eddie is shooting 63.1% from the field and making a career-best 74.5% free throws, making his defense a nightmare. He’s also fouled out less — despite playing far more minutes — than he did in his first two seasons of college basketball. What’s scary for the Big Ten and college basketball is that Eddie may play at least one more season of college basketball after this one. Given his lack of outside shooting and defensive limitations on the perimeter, it’s easy to imagine Eddie eschewing the pro game and returning to Purdue. At the moment, he is in a prime position to be the sport’s player of the year.

PPG: 20.6 | Role playing game: 9.1 | FG PCT: 57.4%

Arizona lost three NBA draft picks from last season’s 1st-place team in the standings NCAA tournament. But the No. 9 WildCats almost didn’t miss because of Tubelis’ excellent offensive play. The 6-11 junior leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 20.6 points per game and rebounds with 9.1 boards per game. He’s playing more minutes than he’s ever played in his career, but is shooting a career-high 57.4% from the field and 79.3% from the free throw line. He even showed some outside touch, making 8 of 18 attempts from 3-point range.

The Wildcats often play a second big man alongside Tubelis Umar Ballo, Tubelis’ ability to stretch the floor and draw defenders away from the basket with a perimeter shot was a nice trait. He’s reached double figures in every game and is turning the ball over less than his first two seasons despite the increased workload. Perhaps the highlight of Tubelis’ season to date is the fact that he has made at least six field goals in every game. Regardless of the opposition, Tubelis finds a way to get buckets for one of the best teams in the country.

PPG: 20.0 | Role playing game: 8.8 | FG PCT: 40.7%

How has No. 2 Kansas managed to maintain a championship-caliber trajectory after losing stars like Remy Martin, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Brown and David McCormack from last year’s team? There are several answers, but none stand out more than Wilson. The redshirt junior leads the Big 12 in scoring with 20 points per game and ranks second in rebounding with 8.8 boards per game.

He is shooting a career-high 34% from 3-point range and has reached double figures in every game this season. Wilson is averaging 2.7 assists per game and shooting 76.4% from the free throw line. He also gets to the charity stripe on 5.6 attempts per game. In an often understaffed Kansas rotation, Wilson’s versatility at 6-8 makes him a perfect addition to coach Bill Self’s lineup.

PPG: 21.8 | Role playing game: 7.9 | FG PCT: 61.5%

Much to the chagrin of Gonzaga’s West Coast Conference competition, Tim is back and better than ever. The senior forward has not shared the frontcourt spotlight with Chet Holmgren this season and is averaging 21.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He’s also averaging a career-best 3.5 assists per game and blocking a career-best 1.1 shots per game now that he’s seeing more minutes at center following Holmgren’s departure. However, the most statistically impressive element of Thiem’s ​​play this season has been his offensive efficiency. He is shooting 61.5% from the floor with 14.1 rebounds per game.

The Gonzaga No. 8 isn’t as dominant as he has been for most of his career, and Thieme still hasn’t developed much of an outside shot, but he remains one of the best players in the country without a doubt. The Zags have quietly climbed back into the top 10 with nine straight wins after a relatively disappointing 5-3 start. Timme and the Zags, as usual, pamper their conference opposition, and you can bet we’ll be hearing from them come March.

PPG: 18.8 | Role playing game: 8.2 | FG PCT: 43.9%

The last freshman to win the Naismith Player of the Year was Zion Williamson in 2018-19. Williamson averaged 22.6 points on a ridiculous 68% shooting and went No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. Not quite Miller what productive, but he was elite for a No. 4 Alabama team that appears to be the class of the SEC. A lanky 6-9 power forward, Miller is hitting 44.5% of his 3-point attempts and proving to be a versatile weapon who can help the Tide even on the rare days when his shot doesn’t go well.

He leads the SEC in scoring with 19.1 points and is fourth in rebounding with 8.2 boards per contest. He also ranks second on the Crimson Tide in defensive rating, trailing only the seven-footer Carl Bediatrans Of the players on this list, Miller is the best pro prospect, and his bid for National Player of the Year will only get stronger if the Crimson Tide continues to destroy everyone in its path.

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