I've had Josh Hart atop these Player of the Year rankings, and it's reasonable to keep the Villanova senior there. He's still fabulous and leading a team ranked No. 1 in the Top 25 (and one). But Frank Mason has never been far behind. And he's playing better than Hart lately. So now the Kansas senior is the headliner.
To be clear, it's close.
Mason and Hart could reasonably go in any order.
But, at this moment, I'm giving the edge to the player who is averaging 20.3 points, 5.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds for a Kansas team that's taking a 17-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Texas. Mason is averaging 23.0 points in KU's past four games while shooting 50.1 percent from the field; Hart is averaging 15.3 points in Villanova's past four games while shooting 46.2 percent. Both are strong. But, again, Mason has been better lately. So he's No. 1 and Hart is No. 2. But that could easily change back next week.
The top candidates for POY are listed below.
1. Frank Mason
- Kansas Jayhawks | Senior | Guard
In addition to the impressive numbers noted above, know this: Mason is 42 of 78 from 3-point range and leading the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage (53.8). He's made at least five 3-pointers in a game three different times. Not bad for a former three-star prospect who was the least-heralded player in the six-player recruiting class that enrolled at Kansas in advance of the 2013-14 season.
2. Josh Hart
- Villanova Wildcats | Senior | Guard
Hart has been held to just 11 points in each of Villanova's past two games. But the senior guard is still averaging 18.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists for a Villanova team that's 18-1 and looking very much like a real threat to win back-to-back national titles. He's shooting 52.7 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from 3-point range heading into Saturday's game with Providence.
3. Lonzo Ball
- UCLA Bruins | Freshman | Guard
Ball is running the team with the nation's top offensive-efficiency rating and averaging 14.6 points, 8.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds in 35.4 minutes per game. The freshman point guard got 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds in Saturday's win at Utah. He's averaging 17.2 points in UCLA's past five games, all of which have been wins that pushed the Bruins to 5-1 in the Pac-12.
4. Caleb Swanigan
- Purdue Boilermakers | Sophomore | Forward
Swanigan finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds in Tuesday's win over Illinois and is now averaging 18.4 points and 12.5 rebounds in 31.6 minutes per game. The sophomore forward has 15 double-doubles in 19 contests. Four of those 15 double-doubles have actually been 20-20 games -- most recently a 28-point, 22-rebound effort Swanigan produced against Minnesota.
5. De'Aaron Fox
- Kentucky Wildcats | Freshman | Guard
Fox is second on Kentucky in points (16.7), first in assists (6.3) and third in rebounds (5.0), and he's the only player on the roster to rank in the top three of each of those categories. The freshman point guard got 21 points in Tuesday's win at Mississippi State. He's averaging 20.8 points in UK's past four games, all of which have been wins that pushed the Wildcats to 6-0 in the SEC.
6. Nigel Williams-Goss
- Gonzaga Bulldogs | Junior | Guard
Williams-Goss got 19 points, six assists and three rebounds in Saturday's blowout of Saint Mary's and is the main reason the Zags remain the nation's only undefeated team. The Washington transfer is averaging 15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 31.8 minutes per game. His biggest performance is a 36-point, 11-rebound, six-assist effort against San Francisco.
7. Johnathan Motley
- Baylor Bears | Junior | Forward
Motley scored 32 points on 19 shots and added 20 rebounds in Tuesday's win over Texas that pushed the Bears to 17-1 with a lone loss at West Virginia. It was the first 30-20 game in a Big 12 contest since Blake Griffin got one in 2009. The junior forward is averaging 15.8 points and 9.7 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game.
8. TJ Leaf
- UCLA Bruins| Freshman Forward
Leaf is averaging 16.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 64.1 percent from the field and 51.3 percent from 3-point range for a UCLA team that's 18-1 and ranked second in the Top 25 (and one). The freshman forward has scored at least 12 points in every game. He got a season-high 26 points and 10 rebounds in a November win over San Diego.
9. Bonzie Colson
- Notre Dame Fighting Irish | Junior | Forward
Colson finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in Saturday's win at Virginia Tech and is averaging 15.8 points and 10.9 rebounds for a Notre Dame team that's 5-0 in the ACC heading into Wednesday's showdown with Florida State. The junior forward's biggest game is a 24-point, 17-rebound effort against Iowa. He's averaging 12.6 rebounds in Notre Dame's past five games.
10. Josh Jackson
- Kansas | Freshman | Guard
Jackson wasn't sharp in Monday's win at Iowa State but is still averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists for a Kansas team that's 17-1. The freshman forward had 20 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday's win over Oklahoma State. He's had double-doubles in two of KU's past four games.
THE NEXT FIFTEEN (in alphabetical order): Dwayne Bacon (Florida State), Joel Berry (North Carolina), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Justin Jackson (North Carolina), Luke Kennard (Duke), Jock Landale (Saint Mary's), Lauri Markkanan (Arizona), Kelan Martin (Butler), Donovan Mitchell (Louisville), Monte Morris (Iowa Sate), Malik Monk (Kentucky), London Perrantes (Virginia), Alec Peters (Valparaiso), Melo Trimble (Maryland).