CBS Sports 2017-18 Preseason Player, Coach and Freshman of the Year
Our experts have voted, and here are the three big individual-award honorees
On the long-anticipated eve of the 2017-18 college basketball season, we now come to the moment where our big preseason honors have to be handed out.
As for our individual award winners, you've come to the right place. We're focusing on Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year. This year's honorees come from three conferences. Player of the Year was a near-consensus. Freshman similarly so. Coach? Well, there was some debate. But the winner has won the award before at the end of the season.
We'll see how his team does with top-10 expectations.
The fun part is that you, the reader, get to see how each member of our panel of writers and analysts from CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network voted. Reasons for our final picks vary, but we wanted to be transparent in revealing our votes -- while also sharing the love to others who came up short of winning.
CBS Sports Preseason Player of the Year
Bridges wasn't a unanimous selection by our panel (see the votes at the bottom of this post), but he's as popular of a preseason POY pick -- from a national perspective -- as the sport's had since ... ? Actually, Grayson Allen a season ago. Yeah, the strange thing about college basketball preseason forecasts is that the best player is often generally agreed upon before the first game tips. But Allen infamously did not win player of the year, nor did he even sniff an All-American team. He instead went on to have a rocky junior year filled with fits, starts and trips. Bridges won't be asked to do what Allen did, though, and he has no history of trouble.
Bridges does hold the ability to shock, though, and that's what he did to his coach, Tom Izzo, when he decided to bypass lottery pick riches in order to come back for his sophomore season. Bridges was a top-10 freshman last season -- a loaded one for frosh -- and now looks like not just the best sophomore in the sport but the best player. That's why he's ranked No. 1 on.
The Spartans' athletic, wowing power wing will look to improve on his 16.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks average. He's got a lot of talent around him, but if Michigan State makes a run at a No. 1 seed by winning the Big Ten and following Bridges' charge, he'll become the second Spartan in three seasons to win NPOY, joining Denzel Valentine.
CBS Sports Preseason Coach of the Year
Gregg Marshall | Wichita State
Marshall won the NABC's Coach of the Year award in 2013-14, after his Shockers ran the regular season table and got to a No. 1 seed with a 34-0 record. That was a fun team with Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker, Cleanthony Early and Tekele Cotton. But this group this season might be better.
Wichita State returns its starting five off a team that went 31-5 and ranked top-10 in KenPom. Landry Shamet and Markis McDuffie are on the mend from offseason foot surgeries, and when both are fully healthy, Wichita State will tussle with Cincinnati atop the American Athletic Conference. Zach Brown, Conner Frankamp and Shaq Morris round out a veteran laden, powerful starting five.
Entering his 20th season as a head coach, Marshall owns a .725 win percentage (455-173) and is looking to make his second Final Four. Wichita State has made six consecutive NCAA Tournaments under Marshall and averaged 29 wins per season dating back to 2009-10.
CBS Sports Freshman of the Year
Michael Porter Jr. | Missouri | Forward
Porter edges out Duke's Marvin Bagley III because Porter's ultimately going to be tasked with more responsibility. Whereas Bagley's talent will shine, it will come with Grayson Allen being a leading veteran presence. Plus, Bagley has a lot of really good frontcourt players around him.
Porter is expected to guide Missouri to the biggest turnaround in the sport. The Tigers won just eight games last season. With a smooth offensive game and a body ready for the next level, Porter's arrival in Columbia brought enthusiasm for Mizzou hoops back to a level it hasn't been in arguably a decade-plus.
Cuonzo Martin is in his first season with Missouri. Martin's a solid defensive coach, so how he chooses to deploy Porter and other really good freshmen on this roster will be an intriguing plot line to follow. If Porter adapts to the college game right away, he's capable of averaging 20 points. If that happens, he won't just battle with Bagley for Freshman of the Year -- he'll wind up vying for higher draft position come June 2018.
How we voted
CBS and CBS Sports Network voters
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Villanova, which is expected to lose four starters, is No. 7.