As conference play is set to get
into high gear, there isn't much
clarity in college basketball.
However, this much is clear: The
race for National Player of the Year
is wide open.
Malik Hairston and
Corey Brewer have gotten off to slow starts
due to injuries.
Here's our take, in order, of the Top 20
candidates for the National Player of the Year:
Alando Tucker, 6-6, F, Sr.,
- The Josh Howard-clone is the primary reason
why the Badgers are 9-1 and No. 4 in the
country. He's scoring at 21.2 points per game
and grabbing 4.4 boards per contest. He needs to
shoot better from the line (66 percent) and his
rebounding numbers have dropped from 5.7 last
season to 4.4.
Jermareo Davidson, 6-10, PF, Sr.,
- It's remarkable that with everything he's been
through, Davidson is putting up 16.1 points,
10.6 boards and 4.8 blocks per game. With Steele
banged up, Davidson has picked up the slack. The
Crimson Tide are No. 10 in the nation largely
because of Davidson.
Jared Dudley, 6-7, F, Sr.,
College - While the Eagles lost a couple of
early season games they shouldn't have, it's
hard to fault the San Diego native. He's putting
up 19.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and is
shooting 61 percent from the field and 43
percent from long distance.
Tyler Hansbrough, 6-9, PF, Soph.,
Carolina - Despite the influx of freshman
talent, the best player on the team remains
Psycho T. Hansbrough is averaging 18.9 points
and 8.1 boards in 29 minutes per game - nearly
identical numbers as what he put up his freshman
Nick Fazekas, 6-11, PF, Sr.,
The Wolf Pack have managed to stick in the Top
25 despite a home loss to
skilled and versatile senior is putting up 20.6
points and 12.8 boards per game. He's also
shooting the ball better (41 percent from long
range). Fazekas needs to cut down on his
turnovers (2.7 per game).
Kevin Durant, 6-9, F, Fr.,
Just a freshman, Durant has been the primary
reason for the Longhorns early season success
despite their inexperience. Durant is averaging
20.4 points, 9 boards, 1.7 steals and 2.3 blocks
per contest. He's shooting 46 percent from the
field and 92 percent from the line (43 of 47 for
Glen Davis, 6-8, PF, Jr.,
- Big Baby has lost weight and his numbers have
started to increase. He's averaging 20.1 points
and 10.3 boards per game, but his turnovers have
increased from 2.7 to 3.6 per game. He is
spending too much of his time on the perimeter
so far this season.
Aaron Gray, 7-0, C, Sr.,
Pittsburgh - The numbers may not appear as
though Gray has made the kind of progress he did
between his sophomore and junior campaign, but
he's putting up a double-double (16.8 ppg, 10.5
rpg) and has cut down on his turnovers (1.7 per
game) and is also finishing better (63 percent
from the field as opposed to 53 percent last
Ivan Radenovic, 6-10, PF, Sr.,
- It's difficult to pick someone for Arizona,
but the skilled Serbian has been the most
consistent Wildcat. Radenovic leads the No. 9
team in the land in scoring (17.4) and
rebounding (7.8) while shooting 57 percent from
the field and making half of his shots from
Mario Boggan, 6-7, PF, Sr.,
Oklahoma State - The well-traveled big man,
after stops at Florida and Chipola College, has
finally started to tap into his potential. He's
leading the Cowboys in scoring (20.5) and
rebounding (7) and led Sean Sutton's team to 10
straight wins before Monday's loss at
Jarrius Jackson, 6-1, G, Sr.,
- Versatile guard who can really score. Jackson
is averaging 21.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and is
shooting 57 percent from 3-point land
Greg Oden, 7-0, C, Fr.,
- Sure, he's only played three games. However,
he's a difference-maker. In fact, he's the
difference-maker. He's averaging 14.7 points,
8.3 rebounds and 4.3 blocks thus far in 24
minutes per game - while playing without the
full use of his shooting hand.
13) Carl Landry, 6-7, F, Sr., Purdue - He's come
back with a vengeance after missing last season
due to injury. Putting up 19.2 points and 7.8
rebounds per game for a surprising Boilermakers
Arron Afflalo, 6-5, SG, Jr.,
UCLA - It's
tough not to have a guy from the top-ranked team
in the land on the list. Afflalo's numbers are
hardly eye-popping, but he is leading the team
in scoring (16.3). Afflalo is a terrific
defender, but needs to rebound (1.9) better.
P.J. Couisnard, 6-4, SF, Jr.,
State - I know. Who? He's the glue guy for
the team with the best early season resume in
the nation. He just does it all. Have a look:
11.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5
steals and 1.3 blocks. He's also shooting 56
percent from the field and 47 percent from
3-point land. Oh yeah, the Shockers are 8-0 and
No. 8 in the nation.
Rob Kurz, 6-9, PF, Jr.,
- Here's another guy not many people know much
about. The skilled forward is putting up
impressive numbers for the 20th-ranked Irish.
Take a look: 15.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.9
assists, 1.2 steals, 1.6 blocks while shooting
60 percent from the field, 92 percent from the
line and 47 percent from long range.
Morris Almond, 6-6, SF, Sr.,
Obviously, he won't win the award because his
team is .500. However, the Georgia native is
leading the nation in scoring at 30.1 points per
game, is also a solid rebounder (5.3) and
doesn't take a lot of bad shots. He's making 54
percent of his field goals and 48 percent from
beyond the 3-point arc.
Al Horford, 6-8, PF, Jr.,
- On a team that has struggled early, he's been
the Gators best player thus far. However,
Horford currently has a sprained ankle that will
likely linger and slow down his production. He's
putting up 13.2 points, 8.3 boards and 2.1
blocks in just 24.1 minutes per game for the
defending national champs.
Dominic James, 5-11, PG, Soph.,
- The quick floor leader needs to become a
better shooter, but he finds a way to score.
James is averaging 17.2 points and 4.1 assists,
but shoots just 44 percent from the field and 31
percent from 3-point land.
Chris Lofton, 6-2, SG, Jr., Tennessee - He
doesn't do much else, but he's arguably the best
shooter in the country.