Midseason Predictions For the Top 30 Naismith Award Finalists
Predicting Top 30 Naismith Award Candidates
The Naismith Award in college basketball is one of the most prestigious awards in college athletics. If you are a college basketball fan, you are eager to find out who will win the award each year. Last year was a pretty big year for the award as an underdog climbed through the ranks and took the award away from some of the preseason favorites. Trey Burke took home the award and it was one of the best seasons of any point guard in recent memory.
In the past 10 years, some famous names that have won the Naismith Award include Andrew Bogut, J.J. Redick, Kevin Durant, Tyler Hansbrough, Blake Griffin, Evan Turner, Jimmer Fredette and Anthony Davis. Of course, Burke won it in 2013 and has proven at the next level just why he deserved the award.
Winning the award was a good indication that these players would be successful at the next level as all of them have made some sort of impact for an NBA team at the next level.
This year's list has been set at 50 and in a few weeks, it's set to be narrowed down to the top 30 candidates from that 50-man watch list that was released in November. The only down side to this is that guys who have broken out as stars after the watch list was released will not be eligible to become finalists for the prestigious award.
A committee will be narrowing down the list of 50 to a mid-season field of just 30 on Feb. 25 and then once again to four finalists on March 23. The winner of the award will be announced on April 6 -- one day before the national title game.
Let's take at the relatively early Naismith mid-season candidates -- 30 of them -- and the rankings for those candidates.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honorable Mention: Joel Embiid, Kansas
It's unfortunate that Joel Embiid won't be included in Naismith consideration as he was not on the early-season watch list top 50.
Season: 11.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, 65.9% FG
Honorable Mention: Nik Stauskas
Again, Nik Stauskas won't be one of the finalists because he was left off the early list, but he is having a whale of a season. He has led the Michigan Wolverines to 10 straight wins and an unbeaten start in Big Ten play.
Season: 18.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 50% FG, 45.9% 3PFG
30. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina
If North Carolina keeps faltering, don't expect McAdoo to be there until the end. As of right now, however, he is playing well enough to keep himself in the race.
Season: 14.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.1 blocks
29. Jerrelle Benimon, Towson
Towson most likely has to win the Colonial in order to make the tournament, but Jerelle Benimon, a Georgetown transfer, has been great for the 13-8 Tigers.
Season: 18.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.6 blocks, 52% FG
28. Juvonte Reddic, VCU
Reddic is a large reason as to why VCU is having such a solid season. The senior forward is one of the best at his position in the nation.
Season: 12.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.0 blocks, 54.3% FG
27. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
Same with McAdoo, if Ferrell doesn't lead the Indiana Hoosiers(13-8) into the NCAA Tournament, he will likely fall short of being a finalist, but I think he has the stat line to be in the top 30.
Season: 17.3 points, 4.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds
26. Kyle Anderson, UCLA
Kyle Anderson is UCLA's second leading scorer and a big reason why the Bruins are right behind Arizona in the Pac-12 race.
Season: 15.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.8 steals, 50% FG, 50% 3PFG
25. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
Pangos is a very underrated guard in today's game. He is a bit undersized, but his numbers would never indicate such things.
Season: 15.7 points, 4.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 1.1 steals
24. Jordan Adams, UCLA
Adams and Anderson have made quite the dynamic duo for the 17-4 Bruins this season. Adams has been a Jack of all trades for the Bruins -- also leading the team in scoring.
Season: 17.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 2.0 assists
23. Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Gordon is one of the best freshmen in the nation and he is a big reason why Arizona is one of a few unbeaten teams left in college basketball -- and why they are No. 1 in the country.
Season: 12.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 blocks
22. Tyler Haws, BYU
Haws is one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball -- it's too bad his BYU Cougars are in danger of losing their 10th game of the season with a month left of games to play.
Season: 24.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals, 46% 3PFG, 87% FT
21. Jordan McRae, Tennessee
Tennessee has struggled a bit this season, but you wouldn't be able to tell by McRae's success. The senior guard is having his best collegiate season yet -- a far cry from his 1.8 points per game average in his freshman season.
Season: 18.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.0 blocks
20. Alex Kirk, New Mexico
Alex Kirk is one of the best big men in the game today -- it doesn't hurt being a seven-footer, either.
Season: 14.0 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.9 blocks, 1.0 assists
19. Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Adreian Payne may be injured a bit still, but even with a handful of missed games, Payne is one of the best centers in the nation -- of not the most athletic of the bunch. When he comes back, he will be a big reason why Michigan State makes yet another Final Four run.
Season: 16.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, 52.4% FG
18. Kendall Williams, New Mexico
Kendall Williams is a rare four-year starter for the Lobos -- and a successful one at that. He is having his best season yet and the Lobos are going to rely heavily upon his services for a deep Tournament run.
Season: 18.0 points, 5.4 assists, 3.6 rebounds
17. Joe Jackson, Memphis
Memphis' Joe Jackson is the leader on one of the most athletic teams in the nation. The senior point guard is extremely productive offensively -- even if that means his assist numbers are down from last year.
Season: 14.2 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.9 steals
16. Rodney Hood, Duke
Rodney Hood has quietly been the Blue Devils' most consistent player this season -- yes, even more consistent than Jabari Parker.
Season: 17.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 51.1% FG, 44% 3PFG
15. Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
Marshall Henderson is one of the more outspoken players in college basketball -- in fact, in sports overall. He is also not afraid to shoot the ball as he averages over 15 shots per game shoots just about 35 percent from the field -- not so impressive.
Season: 19.1 points, 2.4 assists, 2.0 rebounds
14. Semaj Christon, Xavier
Xavier has been one of the surprise teams in college basketball this season. Sitting at 15-5, Semaj Christon has the Musketeers in third place in the tough Big East.
Season: 17.0 points, 3.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds
13. Treveon Graham, VCU
Like I said earlier, VCU is having a solid season and the combo of Reddic and Graham makes them a scary threat come March.
Season: 15.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists
12. Jahii Carson, Arizona State
Arizona State is going to be in the Pac-12 title race until the very end and Jahii Carson is the guard responsible for most of the success. He has been a catalyst all season long and has emerged as one of the best players in the Pac-12.
Season: 18.9 points, 4.7 assists, 4.0 rebounds, 45% FG
11. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
Cleanthony Early was a force to be reckoned with in the NCAA Tournament last season and it has been the same story this season. Early is the team's veteran player and also the top dog for the unbeaten Shockers.
Season: 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists
10. Russ Smith, Louisville
The younger brother of NBA guard J.R. Smith better be a pretty solid talent, and Russ is just that. The reigning NCAA Tournament champions are having yet another solid season thanks to the solid play of their leader: Russ Smith.
Season: 18.0 points, 4.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds
9. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Not many people thought that the Cincinnati Bearcats would be off the type of hot start that they are now on. Sean Kilpatrick is the leader of the team and he has been playing the best basketball of his career.
Season: 19.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 steals
8. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Napier is as clutch as any player in the nation as well as one of college basketball's most exciting players.
Season: 17.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists
7. Gary Harris
Gary Harris has been the Big Ten's best all-around player this season. He has stepped up in the absence of Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson, leading the Spartans to an 19-2 start to the year.
Season: 18.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 rebounds, 2.1 steals
6. C.J. Fair, Syracuse
C.J. Fair has been the star of Syracuse's undefeated start -- many people believe that Fair is playing better than anyone in the nation.
Season: 16.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 1.5 assists
5. Julius Randle, Kentucky
Randle is the best young big man in the nation and he could be the reason the Kentucky Wildcats make a deep run in March.
Season: 16.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 52.8% FG
4. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Andrew Wiggins has been the most talked about freshman in college basketball this season. He has the Kansas Jayhawks playing great basketball and they are poised to win the Big 12 and the NCAA title.
Season: 16.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 46.2% FG
3. Jabari Parker, Duke
Parker has out-performed every freshman this season in college basketball. The young Duke star has been solid in all aspects of the game -- and he has overcome rough stretches like a veteran.
Season: 18.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 blocks
2. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
If you're looking for excitement, tune into Oklahoma State games and watch Marcus Smart take over games by himself. The Cowboys have been graced with one of the games best players, and if I were to predict the four finalists that will be announced in March, Smart would be one of them.
Season: 17.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.5 steals
1. Doug McDermott, Creighton
Doug McDermott has taken the college basketball world by storm. He has put up some incredible numbers and if he keeps it up, he will run away with the award this year.
Season: 25.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists