The Naismith Men’s Player of the Year Award early season watch list has been published, and it’s loaded with the usual suspects.
The state of Kentucky fared well, with Louisville and Kentucky landing three players apiece on the list. Chane Behanan, Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng were the Cardinals honored. The Wildcats, unsurprisingly, were represented by an all-freshman troika of Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Nerlens Noel.
In fact, there were plenty of first-year players on the list, with UCLA’s Kyle Anderson coming first alphabetically, joined by the Kentucky recruits, Ben McLemore (Kansas), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State) and his own currently ineligible teammate Shabazz Muhammad.
Non-BCS programs were well represented, as they have been in All-America lists across the land. South Dakota State’s Nate Wolters is on the list, as are Isaiah Canaan (Murray State), Rotnei Clarke (Butler), CJ McCollum (Lehigh), DJ Cooper (Ohio), Doug McDermott (Creighton) and several players from the WCC and Mountain West conferences.
The power shift in the ACC was plainly evident, as well. Duke is represented by lone ranger Mason Plumlee, while traditional rival UNC had just James Michael McAdoo to carry the standard. Florida State has Michael Snaer. Resurgent NC State, on the other hand, will be repped by two players: Lorenzo Brown and CJ Leslie.
The Atlanta Tipoff club has sponsored the Naismith Award since 1969, when UCLA’s Lew Alcindor claimed the first trophy. Other winners have included Bill Walton, Michael Jordan, Kevin Durant and, most recently, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis.