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College Basketball Insider

CBSSports.com List of National Player of the Year candidates

I'd still take Andrew Wiggins No. 1 in the 2014 NBA Draft, and I continue to believe he'll go No. 1 overall. But can you imagine what it would be like to pass on Jabari Parker?

Man, I wouldn't want to be the GM who does that.

Because Parker, through 11 games, has looked more than capable of stepping into an NBA lineup and performing at a high level right now. He's good around the rim and away from the rim, and there's not much he can't do on the offensive end of the court. Simply put, Parker is the type of player who could carry a team to a national title like Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony did in 2003 and UConn's Kemba Walker did in 2011. For now, though, he'll have to settle for being atop CBSSports.com's list of National Player of the Year candidates.

(Note: This list updates every other Wednesday.)

1. Jabari Parker (Duke)
Why he's here: This former Sports Illustrated cover boy has been better than most anticipated. Parker is averaging 22.1 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 55.0 percent from the field and 47.5 percent from 3-point range. He's a pro shot-maker already.

2. Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)
Why he's here: This sophomore star has cooled some since averaging 31.3 points in a three-game stretch last month against Memphis, USF and Purdue. But Smart is still averaging 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists while leading a consensus top-10 team.

3. Doug McDermott (Creighton)
Why he's here: The Bluejays haven't played a currently ranked team in nearly a month, so McDermott has been off the national radar. Still, the 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 24.8 points and 7.5 rebounds, and he's well on his way to earning All-American honors again.

4. Shabazz Napier (Connecticut)
Why he's here: Napier struggled in a loss to Stanford and passed on the chance to take a game-winning shot. That was disappointing. But averages of 15.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists for a top-15 team are enough to keep him in the top five of these rankings.

5. Julius Randle (Kentucky)
Why he's here: UK's physically overwhelming freshman got 29 points and 10 rebounds in his most recent game (against Belmont). Randle is now averaging 18.2 points and 11.3 rebounds thanks to nine double-doubles in 13 outings.

6. C.J. Fair (Syracuse)
Why he's here: The preseason ACC Player of the Year is averaging 17.8 points and 5.3 rebounds for the school ranked second in the AP and Coaches polls. Fair is shooting 47.2 percent from the field, which represents a career-high number.

7. Adreian Payne (Michigan State)
Why he's here: A 33-point, nine-rebound effort in a win over Texas has Payne averaging a team-best 18.1 points and 8.0 rebounds for the one-loss Spartans, who actually have three players averaging at least 14.9 points.

8. Chaz Williams (UMass)
Why he's here: The UMass point guard has only scored a total of 33 points in his past three games. But he's still averaging a team-best 15.7 points and team-best 7.5 assists, and what he's consistently providing the Minutemen makes him worthy of consideration.

9. Russ Smith (Louisville)
Why he's here: Smith is leading the Cardinals in both points per game (16.8) and assists per game (5.0) while shooting a career-high 45.3 percent from the field. Add that to the fact that he plays for the reigning national champs, and he belongs on this list.

10. Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)
Why he's here: KU's 6-foot-8 wing hasn't been as consistent as some would like. But he's still averaging a team-best 15.5 points and 5.5 rebounds against a schedule that's already featured games against Duke, Villanova, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Georgetown.

11. Joseph Young (Oregon)
Why he's here: Young hasn't had any problems transitioning from Houston to Oregon. He's shooting a higher percentage from the field and from 3-point range than he did last season while averaging 19.8 points for the undefeated Ducks.

12. Jahii Carson (Arizona State)
Why he's here: The sophomore point guard's shooting percentage and points-per-game average have both dipped slightly over the past two weeks. But Carson is still averaging 19.6 points and 5.8 assists while shooting 49.7 percent from the field.

13. Casey Prather (Florida)
Why he's here: Nobody has emerged as a breakout star quite like Prather. The senior wing averaged 6.2 points last season but is now averaging a team-best 18.5 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting 62.4 percent from the field for the Gators, who own wins over Kansas, Memphis and Florida State.

14. Jordan Clarkson (Missouri)
Why he's here: Clarkson is no longer the leading scorer on an undefeated team. But he remains the leading scorer for a nationally ranked team, and his 19.9 points on 13.9 shots per game are among the reasons why Missouri will be a factor in the SEC.

15. Nick Johnson (Arizona)
Why he's here: It would be silly to have a ranking of possible Players of the Year without a representative from the nation's top-ranked team, and Johnson is the most worthy. He's averaging 16.0 points while shooting 50.4 percent from the field.


Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.
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