The race for the 2017 National Player of the Year award in college basketball is winding down. With the regular season fully completed, there is only a handful games left for the candidates to make their mark within their respected conference tournaments, and if their team is good enough, the NCAA Tournament.
While there are three likely front-runners, several other players could force their way into the conversation when the AP announces its pick at the Final Four. The Naismith Award is given out on March 16 and the Wooden Award is handed out on April 7.
There is also something I would like to add. The title of this award is Player of the Year. Not Most Outstanding player, or the much different Most Valuable Player. It’s Player of the Year, which means the person who wins it should stand for something beyond his own statistics.
On the other hand, this is Player of the Year, not Team of the Year. So it is by definition an individual award. Therefore, I think we need to be careful about over-rewarding great players on good teams while punishing great players on bad teams. If anything, it’s harder to accumulate gaudy stats on a bad team because it means you don’t have teammates to provide you other opportunities to contribute.
Looking at this list, I must admit I fall prey to this tendency. But to be safe, I ranked the Top 5 candidates rather generously, then left another five worthy contenders on the Honorable Mention section. So, feel free to agree or disagree.