CBSSports.com list of National Player of the Year candidates
UConn senior Shabazz Napier tops CBSSports.com's list of National Player of the Year candidates.
We started with Andrew Wiggins and have, at different times over the first month of the season, had moments when it looked like Julius Randle, Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker should be considered the leader for National Player of the Year awards. It's been a fun rollercoaster to ride, and, I suspect, it'll be exactly that from now until March.
To this point, I can tell you that my colleagues and I don't even agree on the current leader.
Matt Norlander picked one player.
Jeff Borzello and I settled on somebody else.
Ultimately, we decided to place the candidates in the order below.
So check it out and know that the plan is to update this list every other Wednesday.
G | 6-1 | Sr.
Why he's here: UConn's do-everything senior has been consistently terrific in a variety of ways. He's averaging a team-best 15.3 points, a team-best 7.0 rebounds and a team-best 5.9 assists for the undefeated Huskies, and he famously hit the game-winner against Florida. In other words, Napier is a statistically great player who is impacting winning for a nationally relevant team. That's enough to make him deserving of this spot.
F | 6-8 | Fr.
Why he's here: The Blue Devils have at least one more loss than some predicted for them at this point, perhaps two. But Duke is still 7-2 with wins over Michigan and Alabama, and Parker has been even better than expected. He's big, strong, athletic and super-skilled. The 6-foot-8 freshman is averaging 22.1 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from 3-point range.
3. Marcus Smart
G | 6-4 | So.
Why he's here: OSU's sophomore star had arguably the best night of any player this season when he put 39 on Memphis in last month's lopsided win over the Tigers. Smart is averaging 19.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists, and it should be noted that he's shooting better this season, too. His field goal and 3-point percentages are both up.
G | 5-9 | Sr.
Why he's here: I generally like statistically impressive players who also raise the levels of their teams, and Williams is a great example of that. He's averaging 17.5 points and 7.6 assists while shooting a career-best 43.6 percent from 3-point range. More important, Williams has UMass off to an 8-0 start, which represents the best start for the Minutemen since the 1995-96 season in which John Calipari coached and Marcus Camby played.
F | 6-9 | Fr.
Why he's here: The best of UK's celebrated freshman class is a physical specimen unlike almost anybody else who plays around the basket at the college level. He's recorded eight double-doubles in 10 games and is averaging 17.8 points and 12.0 rebounds on the season.
6. C.J. Fair
F | 6-8 | Sr.
Why he's here: The top three teams, according to the AP and coaches polls, are Arizona, Ohio State and Syracuse ... and I'm not sure the first two have an obvious "best" player in this particular season. At Arizona, is it Nick Johnson or Aaron Gordon? At Ohio State, is it Aaron Craft or LaQuinton Ross? Again, I'm not sure. But it seems pretty clear that Syracuse's best player is Fair -- a 6-8 senior who is averaging 17.8 points and 5.3 rebounds.
F | 6-8 | Sr.
Why he's here: The two-time MVC Player of the Year and future Big East Player of the Year is averaging a career-best 25.3 points and 6.9 rebounds. McDermott has also helped himself in the eyes of NBA scouts, meaning his decision to return to Creighton for a final year is probably going to end up being beneficial.
G | 6-8 | Fr.
Why he's here: For all of the concern from some about Wiggins as a player, the reality is that he's averaging a team-best 16.4 points (on just 10.8 shots) and 6.1 rebounds for a school ranked 13th nationally that's already played four games against opponents currently ranked. Bottom line, everybody can stop "worrying" about Wiggins. He's doing just fine.
G | 6-5 | Jr.
Why he's here: Rodney Hood, Mike Moser and Tarik Black got a lot of attention as transfers who could theoretically make an instant impact at their new schools. Clarkson? He didn't get nearly as much, but he's getting it now because the former Tulsa standout is averaging 20.2 points, 3.8 assists and 3.7 rebounds for the undefeated and nationally ranked Tigers.
10. Jahii Carson
G | 5-10 | So.
Why he's here: This has already been a fun year in terms of great individual performances, and Carson is among the reasons. He got 40 points in a win at UNLV last month. He's averaging 20.5 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 51.0 percent from the field and 52.9 percent from 3-point range.
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