Michael Beasley is the CBSSports.com National Player of the Year.
Which has nothing to do with Tyler Hansbrough.
To be clear, Hansbrough is a great player on a great team, and he'd be a great pick for Player of the Year pretty much any year. Just not this year. Not with Beasley posting ridiculous numbers while leading Kansas State to the school's first NCAA tournament since 1996. Put another way, Beasley has taken a program to a place it rarely goes while posting numbers the nation rarely sees, and that he's done it all with a sketchy supporting cast is a testament to just how dominant this future NBA star has been.
But this has nothing to do with NBA potential.
Though Beasley will likely be the No. 1 pick in June's draft, it's important to realize he's not the National Player of the Year because he's the best prospect. Rather, he's the National Player of the Year because he's been the best college player in college basketball this season, and the argument can be made -- and I'm about to make it -- that he's been the best college player in college basketball the past two seasons.
Yep, I just suggested Michael Beasley is better than Kevin Durant.
I never thought I'd write those words.
But the numbers back the theory.
Beasley is averaging more points (26.5 compared to 25.8) and rebounds (12.5 compared to 11.1) this season than Durant did last season despite playing 4.6 minutes less per game (31.3 compared to 35.9), which means he's more efficient. Beasley also shoots it better from the field (53.7 percent compared to 47.2 percent) and nearly makes his 3-point attempts (39.5 percent compared to 40.4 percent) and free throw attempts (77.0 percent compared to 81.6 percent) at the same rate, impressive given how Beasley is considered an interior player while Durant is more of a classic wing.
Beasley (who led Kansas State to a third-place finish in the Big 12 this year) is having a season that is arguably better and certainly just as good as Durant (who led Texas to a third-place finish in the Big 12 last year) had last season. That's what the evidence suggests. And so if we were all convinced Durant deserved every Player of the Year award last season I'm not sure why we aren't all convinced Beasley doesn't similarly deserve every Player of the Year award this season.
And again, this has nothing to do with Hansbrough.
He's a fabulous Player of the Year candidate this year just like Carmelo Anthony was a fabulous NBA prospect five years ago. But the problem for Anthony was that he happened to be an NBA prospect in the same year that LeBron James was an NBA prospect; so he could not be at the top of the list. And that's pretty much where Hansbrough finds himself today -- as a deserving candidate who happens to be up against a player unlike many we've ever seen.
And that's why Tyler Hansbrough can't be the National Player of the Year.
Because he's competing against Michael Beasley.
And Beasley is the clear choice.
National Player of the Year
Winner: Michael Beasley (Kansas State)
Reason: I was talking to a Big 12 coach the night before he played Beasley this season, and so I naturally wished the guy good luck. He said thanks. And then I asked if perhaps I was off base, if these huge numbers were just numbers and nothing more, and that Beasley wasn't really as dominant as I believed. Here is that coach's response: "His guards are just OK, just OK Big 12 guards. Nothing more. So we're going to pack it in and collapse and run people at Beasley the entire game, and he's still going to get 30 and 15 against us and there's nothing we can do about it. The guy is on another level. Everything comes easy for him. He's the best player in the country and it's not even close."
National Freshman of the Year
Winner: Michael Beasley (Kansas State)
Reason: When the National Player of the Year is a freshman then that freshman must also be the National Freshman of the Year. Lets not make this too complex, OK?
National Coach of the Year
Winner: Keno Davis (Drake)
Reason: Davis took over for his father after last season, and there was no way to know how things would go. Was he ready? And even if he was, would it matter given he was coaching at Drake -- a school that has enjoyed minimal basketball success in recent history and was picked ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference? Fast-forward to today and Davis is sitting with a 28-4 record thanks to MVC regular season and tournament titles. The MVC Tournament title was Drake's first in history, and it marked the first time a top seed has won the event in 11 seasons. Furthermore, Davis has the Bulldogs in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1971, and that he's done it with two former walk-ons serving as key players is the last bit of evidence anybody should need to come to the conclusion that Dr. Tom's son should be given this award.
All-America and Freshman All-America teams
Lets go over how I pick these All-America teams, just so there's no confusion. I do not simply select the best five players and make them first-teamers while the next five players become second-teamers with no regard to the position those players play. Rather, I try to make the teams in the traditional sense, meaning every team I assemble must have somebody who can dribble the ball, rebound the ball, shoot the ball, pass the ball, etc. Otherwise, it's a flawed team, and I'm not interested in having flawed teams, and I hope we don't end up arguing about this later.
So tell me Darren Collison should be on the first team instead of D.J. Augustin. I'll listen to that. But don't tell me to put Kevin Love on the first team ahead of Eric Gordon, because I needed a combo guard on my first team and Gordon is the guy I wanted there. If you think I should've gone with Jerryd Bayless instead of Gordon, that's fine. Again, I'll listen to that. But what I'm asking you to keep in mind is that we're only replacing bigs with other bigs and points with other points and shooters/wings with other shooters/wings.
Here are the CBSSports.com All-America and Freshman All-America teams.
|CBSSports.com First Team All-Americans|
|Second Team||Third Team|
|Guard: Derrick Rose, Memphis||Guard: Darren Collison, UCLA|
|Guard: O.J. Mayo, USC||Guard: Jerryd Bayless, Arizona|
|Guard: Shan Foster, Vanderbilt||Forward: Tyler Smith, Tennessee|
|Forward: D.J. White, Indiana||Forward: Brook Lopez, Stanford|
|Forward: Kevin Love, UCLA||Forward: Luke Harangody, Notre Dame|
|CBSSports.com First Team Freshman All-Americans|
|Second Team||Third Team|
|Guard: Jonny Flynn, Syracuse||Guard: Nick Calathes, Florida|
|Guard: Jerryd Bayless, Arizona||Guard: James Harden, Arizona State|
|Forward: Kyle Singler, Duke||Forward: Bill Walker, Kansas State|
|Forward: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma||Forward: Donte' Greene, Syracuse|
|Forward: Patrick Patterson, Kentucky||Forward: A.J. Ogilvy, Vanderbilt|