Thursday, January 28, 2010

Naismith Watch

1. Evan Turner (Jr., Ohio State)
Subtract the game in which Turner injured his back (7 minutes), and his first game back in the lineup (20 minutes), and he's averaging 20.7 points, 11 rebounds, and 5.8 assists. No player means more to his team (the Buckeyes are 11-3 with Turner, compared to 3-3 without him), and he's proven he can take over games when he's called upon to do so. But can Ohio state win enough games to validate his standing?

2. John Wall (Fr., Kentucky)
The South Carolina loss proved that he's mortal, but so long as Kentucky hovers around the top five, he has to be considered the frontrunner.

3. Jon Scheyer (Sr., Duke)
He's increased his scoring considerably, has one of the best A/TO ratios in the country at 3.72, and has turned Duke into a contender for this first time in years. A rare down year for the ACC might end up hurting his chances.

4. Wesley Johnson (Jr., Syracuse)
The Iowa State transfer has been the most pleasant surprise of the season, turning a Syracuse team which was expected to finish in the middle of the Big East into a championship contender. His outstanding numbers (17.1 points, 9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 1.8 steals, 55.6% FG) attest to his near-peerless versatility.

5. Damion James (Sr., Texas)
The Big 12's all-time leader in rebounding has been extraordinary, posting career highs in scoring (18.2 ppg), rebounding (10.9), steals (1.7 spg) and field goal percentage (50.4%).

6. Scottie Reynolds (Sr., Villanova)
Despite his decorated career, I'd say he's the frontrunner for Most Improved Player (if there was such an award). Not only has Reynolds increased his scoring by 3.5 points, but the career 39.9% shooter has upped his accuracy to a very admirable 49.6%.

7. James Anderson (Jr., Oklahoma State)
The superstar guiding the most underrated team in the nation has been tremendous, averaging 22 points and nearly 6 boards a night. His performance in the Cowboys' win at Kansas State (30 points) was downright heroic.

8. Sherron Collins (Sr., Kansas)
His numbers are way down, but he's one of the most respected seniors in the country and the heart and soul of a 19-1 Kansas team that's gunning for a title.

9. Jacob Pullen (Jr., Kansas State)
A legitimate frontrunner at mid-season, Pullen was disgraceful in a vital two game stretch - the win over Texas (2-15 from the field), and K-State's four point loss to Oklahoma State (2-15, again), in which he was beasted by James Anderson. Scoring in double-figures in every game for one of the best teams in the country will keep him in the conversation.

10. Patrick Patterson (Jr., Kentucky)
Like Collins, Patterson is a respected veteran who commendably opted to stay in school knowing that his numbers might dip. Without him Kentucky would be too inexperienced and immature to contend; with him, they're a veritable powerhouse.

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