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College Basketball Power Rankings: Top 7 Candidates for 2012-13 Naismith Award

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Naismith Award: 7 College Basketball Candidates

Cody Zeller
Brian Spulock-US PRESSWIRE

College basketball's most coveted individual award differs from the likes of college football and the talks of Heisman potential. However, the Naismith Award still ranks among one of the top accolades in sports, crowning the nation's top college basketball player each season.

Entering the season, Indiana's Cody Zeller was the clear cut preseason favorite to win the award, but as each year proves, it's the bases of what players do on the court to help their respected teams in which a winner is selected.

Don't worry Hoosier fans, Zeller is still on this list of course, but is he the nation's leader for the Naismith Award as we enter the month of December? November proved to be a wild ride for some, as some programs have exceeded expectations, while others have faltered.

Zeller isn't the only one to watch out for as the season continues to roll along as a few mid-major talents have burst onto the national scene in their own right. However, is everyone looking up at one Dukie in particular who has led his team to three victories over top five opponents?

Without further ado, let's take a look at seven leading candidates for this season's Naismith Award with one month of action in the books:

Paul Seaver is the College Basketball Network Manager at Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS

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No. 7- Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati)

Sean Kilpatrick

Name: Sean Kilpatrick

School: Cincinnati

Cincinnati is off to an undefeated start to the season, advancing to 7-0 following a buzzer beating victory over Alabama on Saturday. Kilpatrick is leading the way for the Bearcats and head coach Mick Cronin, averaging 21.0 points per game to begin the season.

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No. 6- C.J. McCollum (Lehigh)

C.J. McCollum

Name: C.J. McCollum

School: Lehigh

You probably know the name already, following Lehigh's upset victory over Duke in the NCAA Tournament last March, but McCollum has always been a scorer throughout his career. The senior guard is the motor that makes Lehigh a viable threat again this season and his numbers speak for themselves. McCollum is averaging 26.3 points per game this season, a number that at the moment leads the nation.

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No. 5-Isaiah Canaan (Murray State)

Isaiah Canaan
Joshua S. Kelley-US PRESSWIRE

Name: Isaiah Canaan

School: Murray State

Canaan has been a household now for some time now and that's thanks in large part to Murray State's success from a season ago. The Racers senior leader once again has done his part, averaging 22.5 points per game and showcasing his overall skill throughout Murray State's difficult schedule to begin the year.

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No. 4- Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State)

Deshaun Thomas

Name: Deshaun Thomas

School: Ohio State

We knew going into the season that Thomas was set on a breakout season in 2012-13. Fellow junior Aaron Craft paces the team in the back court, but it's been the production of Thomas that has powered Ohio State thus far. The forward is averaging 22.4 points per game thus far, good enough for 10th best in the nation.

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No. 3- Doug McDermott (Creighton)

Doug McDermott

Name: Doug McDermott

School: Creighton

Creighton should be amongst one of the top mid-major threats throughout the season and a lot of that hype is because of McDermott's production. The 6-foot-8 junior is averaging 21.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game to begin the season. Numbers that come as no surprise to those who know what McDermott is capable of.

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No. 2- Cody Zeller (Indiana)

Cody Zeller
Brian Spulock-US PRESSWIRE

Name: Cody Zeller

School: Indiana

No, Zeller isn't the leading candidate for the Naismith Award at this time, but let's be serious, the Hoosiers' sophomore leader has all the intangibles of winning the award when all is said and done. Indiana remains the nation's number one squad, entering December unblemished overall. Zeller leads the team in both points and rebounds, averaging 15.9 and 7.7, respectively.

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No. 1- Mason Plumlee (Duke)

Mason Plumlee

Name: Mason Plumlee

School: Duke

Let's be honest here, there has no more impressive team to begin the year than that of Duke. Much of their success has been credited to their senior trio which is headlined by Plumlee. The front court star is averaging 19.9 points and 11.0 rebounds per game to begin the season, numbers that are staggering in comparison to others.