College Basketball Player of the Year rankings: KU's Mason closing on top spot

I've had Josh Hart atop the National Player of the Year rankings each week because the Villanova star has consistently been great for a team that's again ranked No. 1 in the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one).

And Hart's still at the top of this list.

But Frank Mason is closing the gap.

The Kansas point guard scored 26 points in Saturday's win at Texas Tech, then added 28 more in Tuesday's victory at Oklahoma that extended the Jayhawks' winning streak to 15 games. Mason is now shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 54.9 percent from 3-point range while guiding a team on pace to win its 13th straight Big 12 title. So he's statistically great and the top player on one of the nation's top teams, which is precisely what somebody must be to be seriously considered for National Player of the Year awards.

The top 10 candidates, at this moment, are below.

(Note: National Players of the Year do not come from non-NCAA Tournament teams. So players from teams unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament are not considered.)

1. Josh Hart (Villanova)

Hart scored 19 points on 13 shots in Saturday's win over Marquette, then got 20 points, six rebounds and five assists in Tuesday's blowout of Xavier. The senior guard is averaging 19.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists for a Villanova team that owns six top-50 KenPom wins and has only lost once. He's the main reason the Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in the CBS Sports Top 25 (and one).

2. Frank Mason (Kansas)

Mason scored a combined 54 points in back-to-back wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma and is averaging 20.4 points, 5.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds. The senior guard has scored 25-or-more points in a game four different times this season. He's running an offense that ranks fourth nationally in terms of efficiency.

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The best player on a great team is the formula voters are looking for. USATSI

3. Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)

Swanigan has 14 double-doubles -- and four 20-20 games -- in 17 appearances for a Purdue team that's 14-3 and ranked 19th in the Top 25 (and one). The sophomore forward is averaging 18.3 points and 12.9 rebounds while shooting 55.4 percent from the field. He's grabbed at least 10 rebounds in nine straight games.

4. Lonzo Ball (UCLA)

Ball finished with 21 points and eight assists in Sunday's win over Stanford and is averaging 14.7 points, 8.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds. The freshman point guard is shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from 3-point range. He's the reason the Bruins are leading the nation in effective field goal percentage.

5. De'Aaron Fox (Kentucky)

Fox got 27 points in Saturday's win over Arkansas and another 22 in Tuesday's win over Vanderbilt. The freshman point guard is averaging 16.7 points, 6.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds. Those numbers rank second, first and third on the Wildcats, who are 4-0 in the SEC with three wins by 20-plus points.

6. Maurice Watson (Creighton)

Watson finished with 11 points and 14 assists in Saturday's win over Providence and is averaging 13.2 points and 9.1 assists. The senior point guard is shooting 49.3 percent from the field and leading the nation in assists per game. He has Creighton off to a 15-1 start thanks to an offense that ranks sixth nationally in efficiency.

7. Josh Jackson (Kansas)

Jackson has scored at least 16 points in three straight games and is averaging 15.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists for a Kansas team that's on a 15-game winning streak. The freshman wing has scored in double-digits in all but two games. He got 17 points and 10 rebounds in Saturday's win over Texas Tech.

8. Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga)

Williams-Goss produced a 36-point, 11-rebound and six-assist effort in last week's 95-80 victory over San Francisco. The Washington transfer is averaging 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists. He has the Zags off to a 15-0 start.

9. Luke Kennard (Duke)

Kennard got 23 points in Tuesday's loss at Florida State and continues to lead Duke in scoring. The sophomore guard is averaging 20.4 points and 5.6 rebounds. He's shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from 3-point range for a team that's 14-3 and still without a loss to a school lower than 45th at KenPom.

10. Johnathan Motley ( Baylor)

Motley struggled in Tuesday's loss at West Virginia but is still averaging 15.3 points and 9.1 rebounds for a Baylor team that's currently ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. The junior forward is shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from 3-point range. He has six double-doubles in 15 appearances.

THE NEXT FIFTEEN (in alphabetical order): Dwayne Bacon (Florida State), Joel Berry (North Carolina), Dillon Brooks (Oregon), Bonzie Colson (Notre Dame), Jawun Evans (Oklahoma State), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Amile Jefferson (Duke), Jock Landale (Saint Mary's), TJ Leaf (UCLA), Lauri Markkanen (Arizona), Kelan Martin (Butler), Malik Monk (Kentucky), Melo Trimble (Maryland), Kyle Washington (Cincinnati).

CBS Sports Insider

Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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