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Doug McDermott headlines list of National POY candidates

Creighton is not a school most fans have watched often, mostly because it's long been in a league that's not on national TV much. And that's too bad. Because that means you've likely missed the majority of one of the best college basketball careers in modern history.

Yes, I'm talking about Doug McDermott's college career.

As I pointed out in a column earlier this week, McDermott is on pace to become only the eighth Division I men's player in history to score at least 3,000 points, and he's way more than just a guy posting big numbers. He's posting big numbers for a winning and nationally relevant team -- proof being that Creighton is 93-32 since McDermott enrolled and currently ranked 23rd in the Top 25 (and one). For those who haven't seen him enough to truly appreciate his talents, the good news is that Creighton's move to the Big East has provided a bigger stage. McDermott's next game is Sunday against Xavier. It'll be on the CBS Sports Network. Tune in, if you can, because on display will be an offensive weapon who is now sitting atop the CBSSports.com list of National Player of the Year candidates.

(Note: This list of candidates will update every other Thursday this season.)

1. Doug McDermott (Creighton)
Why he's here: McDermott is averaging 24.3 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range. The last college player to post those numbers? Kevin Durant.

2. Jabari Parker (Duke)
Why he's here: Parker has struggled recently while missing 16 of his past 22 field goal attempts, and six of his past seven 3-point attempts. (He was even benched at Notre Dame!) But the 6-foot-8 freshman is still averaging a team-best 19.8 points and a team-best 7.6 rebounds while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from 3-point range.

3. Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)
Why he's here: Smart hit 16 of 20 free throws in Wednesday's win over Texas and is now averaging 17.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists. If Oklahoma State snaps Kansas' streak of Big 12 titles, this sophomore guard will be the reason.

4. DeAndre Kane (Iowa State)
Why he's here: Kane posted big numbers in each of his three seasons at Marshall but never really accomplished much. Now, at Iowa State, the combo guard is the best all-around player on a team that's undefeated and ranked sixth in the Top 25 (and one). He's averaging 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.

5. Julius Randle (Kentucky)
Why he's here: Randle has only recorded a double-double in one of his past four games, which is odd considering he started with seven straight double-doubles. But the physically imposing freshman is still averaging 17.4 points and 10.9 rebounds.

6. C.J. Fair (Syracuse)
Why he's here: In fairness, Orange freshman Tyler Ennis could be placed in this spot because he's probably more valuable than any other player on the roster, if only because there are no other options at point guard. That said, I'm sticking with Fair. His NBA potential remains unclear, sure. But his college potential is fully realized. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 17.2 points and 5.6 rebounds for a team that could make another Final Four.

7. Chaz Williams (UMass)
Why he's here: It's difficult to predict where UMass might end up in the Atlantic 10 because Saint Louis, VCU and Dayton are all solid enough to provide the league with four schools that could finish in any order. But, at the moment, I'd make the Minutemen a slight favorite over SLU, and the main reason is Williams -- a tiny guard who is averaging 15.9 points, 7.4 assists and 3.0 rebounds for a one-loss team.

8. Adreian Payne (Michigan State)
Why he's here: Not every junior who returns for his senior season actually gets better and improves his so-called stock as it pertains to the NBA Draft, but Payne has done both of those things. The 6-foot-10 forward is averaging a career-high 16.2 points and a career-high 7.7 rebounds while shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 43.9 percent from 3-point range, and he might be on his way to his first Final Four.

9. Russ Smith (Louisville)
Why he's here: I realize Louisville is still after a signature win, which has taken Smith off of the national radar a bit. But he is, statistically at least, having a better year this season than he had last season, and he was terrific last season. Smith is averaging 17.7 points and 4.9 assists heading into Thursday night's game with Memphis. He's shooting a career-best 44.6 percent from the field and a career-best 34.1 percent from 3-point range.

10. Nick Johnson (Arizona)
Why he's here: Johnson is averaging 16.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists for the top-ranked Wildcats, and he's coming off a 24-point performance in a win over Washington. The 6-foot-3 guard might need to be similarly good Thursday night. If not, Arizona could take its first loss of the season at UCLA.

Fifteen others under consideration (in alphabetical order): Keith Appling (Michigan State), Kyle Anderson (UCLA), Jahii Carson (Arizona State), Jordan Clarkson (Missouri), Sam Dekker (Wisconsin), Cleanthony Early (Wichita State), Melvin Ejim (Iowa State), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Rodney Hood (Duke), Shabazz Napier (UConn), Lamar Patterson (Pitt), Casey Prather (Florida), T.J. Warren (N.C. State), Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Joseph Young (Oregon)

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for CBSSports.com and college basketball insider for the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts an award-winning radio show in Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two sons and two dogs.
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