I hate that Markelle Fultz isn't on this list because he's an awesome prospect who has been statistically amazing. But this is a list of National Player of the Year candidates, and, harsh as it might sound, there's nothing in recent history that suggests Fultz can win National Player of the Year on a team like Washington.
Go look at this list of Wooden Award winners.
What you'll see is guards and forwards, Americans and foreigners, players from big schools, from small schools and from every part of the country. The only common thread between them is that they all played for relevant teams. And Washington, at this point, is irrelevant to the national conversation.
The Huskies are 4-5 and on a four-game losing streak. KenPom projects them to finish 13-17 overall, 6-12 in the Pac-12. And nobody from a team like that will be seriously considered for National Player of the Year.
That might be unfair. But it's true. So Fultz is not on this list of POY candidates even though he's averaging an incredible 22.8 points 6.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists.
Here are this week's rankings:
I had Lonzo Ball at the top last week, and the UCLA freshman hasn't done anything to prove unworthy of the spot. It's just that Hart has been incredible all season and especially over the past week. The senior guard has scored 67 points in Villanova's past two games and is averaging 20.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists for the nation's top-ranked team. He's a statistically excellent player on an obviously elite team. So Josh Hart checks both boxes for this award.
2. Lonzo Ball (UCLA)
Ball continues to be the main reason the Bruins have transformed from a 15-17 team to one that's ranked second in the AP poll and still undefeated. He's averaging 15.0 points, 8.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds while shooting 45.3 percent from 3-point range. His ability to create opportunities for himself and others has UCLA leading the nation in 2-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage.
3. Frank Mason (Kansas)
Mason has been the best player on a Kansas team that owns a victory over Duke and is picked to win a 13th straight Big 12 title. The senior point guard is averaging a team-high 20.5 points and a team-high 5.5 assists while shooting 54.8 percent from 3-point range. He's already scored 30 points twice this season.
4. Luke Kennard (Duke)
Kennard remains Duke's leading scorer (20.0 points per game) and top 3-pointer shooter (40.9 percent). The sophomore guard is also averaging 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists. And he averaged 23.8 points in Duke's four games against top-50 KenPom teams -- Kansas (22 points), Rhode Island (24 points), Michigan State (20 points) and Florida (29 points) -- while catching the attention of NBA scouts.
5. Maurice Watson (Creighton)
Watson is leading the nation in assists per game (9.1) while starring for an undefeated team and orchestrating an offense that ranks fifth in 2-point field goal percentage (59.3) and second in 3-point field goal percentage (45.0). The senior point guard scored 25 points in last week's win over Nebraska. He's averaging 13.1 points and shooting 56.3 percent from 3-point range.
6. De'Aaron Fox (Kentucky)
Kentucky is among the few elite teams on which it's difficult to identify the MVP because the Wildcats have different players leading them in points, rebounds and assists. But Fox gets the nod because he's the only player on the roster who ranks top-three in all three categories. The freshman point guard is averaging 15.1 points, 6.9 assists and 5.4 rebounds in a team-high 30.2 minutes per game.
7. Amile Jefferson (Duke)
The addition of Harry Giles to Duke's frontcourt will likely affect Jefferson's numbers. But, for now, Jefferson's numbers remain great. The fifth-year senior is averaging 15.1 points and 10.5 rebounds in 30.9 minutes per game. He has six double-doubles for the team oddsmakers are projecting to win the national title.
Motley has been the best player for the surprising Bears, who enter Wednesday night's game vs. Southern in possession of the nation's best resume. The 6-10 junior is averaging a team-high 16.3 points and a team-high 8.1 rebounds. He averaged 18.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in wins over Louisville, Xavier, Oregon and Michigan State.
Swanigan is averaging a team-high 15.9 points and a team-high 11.2 rebounds for a Purdue team that's 8-2 and ranked 15th in the AP poll. The sophomore forward has seven double-doubles and one 20-20 game to date. And, for what it's worth, he's also 8 of 13 from 3-point range.
Trimble has guided Maryland to an 11-1 start featuring a 6-0 record in games that have been decided by six or fewer points. In other words, when things are close you want this junior combo guard on your side. He's averaging a career-high 17.2 points and getting to the free throw line 6.6 times per game.