Delon Wright

Jerian Grant (AP Photo)’s College Basketball All-Americans

Frank Kaminsky (left, AP Photo), Jahlil Okafor (center, AP Photo) and Willie Cauley-Stein (right, UK Athletics)


Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin (18.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.6 apg, 41.0% 3PT)

Kaminsky has greatly outperformed expectations he had entering the season, even though he was a preseason all-american pick. He’s been sensational, leading the Badgers in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and steals. Not bad for a guy that averaged 10 minutes as a sophomore.

Jahlil Okafor, Duke (17.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg)

Okafor is an easy pick as well, as he was the most dominating offensive force in the country this season. To get an idea of just how good he can be, think about this: He’s not just a poor defender, he can be downright awful at times, and yet he’s going to finish the season as a consensus first team all-american and the runner-up to Kaminsky in the Player of the Year voting. Not bad.

D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State (19.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.2 apg)

If Kaminsky has been the nation’s best player and Okafor has been the most dominating offensive force, than Russell has to be the nation’s most entertaining player. He can take over a game with his ability to score, and he throws some absurd passes in transition. Can he be this year’s Shabazz Napier in the NCAA tournament?

Jerian Grant, Notre Dame (16.8 ppg, 6.7 apg)

The Irish have no business being a top ten team this season, but they are because Grant has been incredible. Notre Dame has one of the most potent offensive attacks in the country, and it all centers around Grant’s ability to make plays off the dribble and in ball-screen actions. He’s better than anyone else in the country at making his teammate’s better.

Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky (8.9 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg)

Cauley-Stein’s numbers don’t measure up to anyone else on the first team, but what he does best doesn’t necessarily show up in the scorebook. The Wildcats are downright dominant on the defensive end of the floor, and Cauley-Stein is the engine that drives them. He’s the best perimeter and the best interior defender in the country all at the same time.


  • Delon Wright, Utah (14.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.1 spg): Wright did so much for Utah this season, and while his numbers were impressive, it was his defense and ability to understand his strengths offensively that were most important to the Utes.
  • Kris Dunn, Providence (15.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 7.4 apg): The only reason Dunn isn’t in the conversation for National Player of the Year is that he turns the ball over too much. He was completely dominant at times this season.
  • Buddy Hield, Oklahoma (17.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg): Hield has a rep for being one of the nation’s best defenders, dating back to his freshman season. Now he’s also one of the best wing scorers.
  • Rico Gathers, Baylor (11.6 ppg, 11.7 rpg): Gathers is the nation’s best rebounder, an improving scorer on the block and a critical component for arguably the nation’s most surprising team.
  • Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse (17.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.5 bpg): He won’t get to showcase his ability this March, but there was not a more improved player in the country than Christmas this season.


  • T.J. McConnell, Arizona (9.6 ppg, 6.3 apg, 2.1 spg): McConnell’s numbers are nowhere near as impressive as the other lead guards here, but if you watched Arizona play over the last two months, you understand just how important he was to that team’s success.
  • Melo Trimble, Maryland (16.1 ppg, 3.1 apg): Maryland is ranked 31st in KenPom. Yet, they’re a top ten team that’s going to be a top four seed because they’re 11-0 in games decided by six points or less. Trimble is their ‘closer’. He earned this spot.
  • Justin Anderson, Virginia (13.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 48.5% 3PT): Anderson was in the mix for first team all-american when he broke his finger. He deserves recognition despite missing time.
  • Bobby Portis, Arkansas (17.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.5 bpg): I was called out by an Arkansas assistant coach for having Bobby Portis ranked 62nd in our top 100 players list in the preseason. That coach was right.
  • Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa (15.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 3.3 apg): I’m fully on the Tuttle bandwagon. He’s a low-post scorer with three point range, the ability to put the ball on the floor and terrific vision. He’s Frank Kaminsky 2.0.

Player of the Year Power Rankings: Why Jerian Grant, Kyle Wiltjer need more attention

Frank Kaminsky, David Rivers, Walter Pitchford
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source: AP
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1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: A quick update on Kaminsky’s potentially historic season. Wisconsin has slid back a bit in recent weeks and is now on pace to be just the fourth most efficient offense in the KenPom era (2002-2015). Kaminsky is still putting up ridiculous numbers, however, with an offensive rating of 126.3 while using 27.5 percent of Wisconsin’s possessions when he’s on the floor.

2. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: I’ve said numerous times in this space that Okafor has the offensive skill set to one day become an all-time great big man. Here are three reasons why:

That’s a 6-foot-11, 270 pound 19-year old making those moves. Are you kidding me?

3. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: The Irish are 24-4 on the season and are going to finish the season as a top four team in the ACC despite having a defense ranked 165th in adjusted efficiency, according to KenPom, and playing almost half of every game with a lineup that uses 6-foot-5 Bonzie Colson as the center. It’s incredible how much better Grant makes everyone on that team. He’s still not getting enough attenion, so I’m just going to leave this right here.

4. D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State: Russell has not been great in four of his last five games, and our Scott Phillips does a good job of breaking that down right here.

5. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Josh Richardson is Tennessee’s best player this season. A 6-foot-6 wing, he is averaging 15.7 points and 3.6 assists while shooting 36.5 percent from three. He also runs the point for the Vols from time-to-time. On Tuesday night, when Kentucky played at Tennessee, Cauley-Stein — Kentucky’s 7-foot-1 center — drew the assignment of covering Richardson, who finished 4-for-14 from the floor:

He also drew the assignment of covering Auburn’s K.T. Harrell. Cauley-Stein might be the best defensive center in the country. He might also be the best perimeter defender in the country. He can single-handily take any advantage an opposing team has when they run a screen-and-roll by his ability to switch out onto ball-handlers.

6. Delon Wright, Utah: The Utes fell at Oregon over the weekend, putting their Pac-12 title hopes in jeopardy, but that shouldn’t take any of the luster off of the season that Wright is having. We’ve discussed this before, but one of the things that makes Wright so efficient offensively despite the fact that he doesn’t make many threes is that he’s incredible at getting to the rim and finishing over bigger players. If you didn’t believe me, here’s some visual proof:

7. Kris Dunn, Providence: Dunn had 21 points, four boards, four assists and four steals in last week’s win over DePaul, a relatively mediocre win for the guy that should be in everyone’s college basketball FanDuel lineups whenever he is suiting up. But he also had six turnovers in that game, which is not all that surprising considering that he is averaging 4.2 turnovers on the season. Is that the reason that he doesn’t show up on more Player of the Year listings?

8. T.J. McConnell, Arizona: This isn’t necessarily going to be about T.J. McConnell, but I wanted to take the chance to highlight a brilliant coaching move from Sean Miller over the weekend. With Arizona locked in a tight game at home against UCLA, Miller noticed that the Bruins had switched to a 3-2 zone late in the second half. Kevon Looney, who was killing the Wildcats in the second half, was playing at the top of the zone. He also had four fouls, so Miller called for a set play — one he likely implemented that week while prepping for the game — where Stanley Johnson and Gabe York set in-screens on the two wings, leaving Looney to guard McConnell 1-on-1. McConnell goes by him and draws Looney’s fifth foul, getting the potential lottery pick out of the game:

9. Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa: As long as the Panthers and Wichita State can get past their midweek games, they’ll head into Saturday — the final game of the regular season — tied for first place in the Missouri Valley. On a Saturday with some unreal matchups, that might end up being the best of the day.

10. Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga: The only reason Justin Anderson isn’t listed here is because he’s dealing with that broken finger, but don’t let that take away from the season that Wiltjer has had. He’s 17.4 points and 5.8 boards he’s averaging while shooting 46.9 percent from three is impressive in and of itself, but when you look at his efficiency numbers is when it goes from good to great. Wiltjer’s offensive rating, according to KenPom, is 132.1, an insanely high number before you even consider the fact that he’s using 26.3 percent of Gonzaga’s possessions. Only one other player since 2004, when KenPom started keeping track of these numbers, has had an offensive rating above 130 while using at least 24 percent of his team’s possessions.

If Wiltjer wasn’t such a question mark on the defensive end, he’d be much higher on this list.

OTHERS THAT WERE CONSIDERED: Justin Anderson (Virginia), Ron Baker (Wichita State), Ryan Boatright (UConn), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), Kyle Collinsworth (BYU), Tyler Haws (BYU), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Stanley Johnson (Arizona), Jarell Martin (LSU), Jordan Mickey (LSU), Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming), Georges Niang (Iowa State), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Bobby Portis (Arkansas), Juwan Staten (West Virginia), Melo Trimble (Maryland), Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), Brad Waldow (St. Mary’s), Joseph Young (Oregon)

Oregon beats No. 9 Utah, adding much-needed win to its NCAA tournament resume

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Five days ago with the team facing home games against Colorado and No. 9 Utah, Oregon senior guard Joseph Young guaranteed that the Ducks would wind up in the NCAA tournament. After beating the Buffaloes on Wednesday, Young and his teammates completed the home sweep with a 69-58 win over the Runnin’ Utes in Eugene, adding a much-needed quality win for their NCAA tournament resume.

Young didn’t shoot particularly well, scoring 14 points on 5-for-16 shooting (1-for-8 3PT), but he had plenty of help from his teammates. Freshman forward Dillon Brooks, who within the course of a year has gone from reclassifying from the Class of 2016 to being one of the Pac-12’s best freshmen, scored 19 points (two of which can be seen in the video above) and grabbed seven rebounds and Elgin Cook added 12 points.

Oregon shot 45.5% from the field on Sunday, but what really won the game for the Ducks was their matchup zone. Head coach Dana Altman made the move in the second half, and the zone successfully slowed down the Runnin’ Utes. Utah shot 36.5% from the field, and outside of the efficient Delon Wright (6-for-9 FG, 4-for-4 FT, 20 points) they struggled mightily from the field.

Brandon Taylor shot 2-for-10 from the field, with all of his shot attempts being three-pointers, and Jordan Loveridge shot 2-for-8. Outside of Wright, the lone player who had success penetrating the Oregon matchup zone, no Utah player scored more than seven points (Loveridge) on the day. Twenty-nine of Utah’s 52 field goal attempts were three-pointers, which is far too high a number when considering both the presence of Jakob Poeltl and Utah’s overall size advantage in the front court.

Oregon was able to use the zone looks to limit the post touches for Utah’s big men, and that resulted in the Ducks picking up their biggest win of the season to date.

Prior to Sunday, Oregon’s two RPI Top 50 wins came against Illinois (in Chicago) and UCLA (at home, and the Bruins were without Tony Parker) and their three KenPom Top 50 wins came against UCLA and Arizona State (twice). Regardless of which ratings system one prefers, there’s no denying the fact that this was a huge victory for Oregon as they look to return to the NCAA tournament.

With three road games and the Pac-12 tournament remaining on their schedule, Oregon may make a prophet out of their senior point guard.

Video credit: Fox Sports 1

Freshmen Tyus Jones, Melo Trimble among finalists for Bob Cousy Award

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Friday morning the finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, annually given to the nation’s best point guard by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, were announced. Among the players on the list are two of the nation’s best freshmen, Duke’s Tyus Jones and Maryland’s Melo Trimble.

They’re the only two first-year players on the list, which includes six seniors, five juniors and four sophomores.

From a conference standpoint the Pac-12 leads the way with four finalists, with Arizona’s T.J. McConnell, Cal’s Tyrone Wallace, Utah’s Delon Wright and Washington’s Nigel Williams-Goss being the players on the list. In total nine conferences are represented. Also making the cut is BYU junior Kyle Collinsworth, who has tallied an NCAA-record five triple-doubles this season.

Below is the list of finalists for the award, which was won by UConn’s Shabazz Napier last season.

2015 Bob Cousy Award Finalists

T.J. McConnell, Arizona (senior)
Kyle Collinsworth, BYU (junior)
Tyrone Wallace, California (junior)
Ryan Boatright, UConn (senior)
Tyus Jones, Duke (freshman)
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga (senior)
Keifer Sykes, Green Bay (senior)
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana (junior)
Monte Morris, Iowa State (sophomore)
Terry Rozier, Louisville (sophomore)
Melo Trimble, Maryland (freshman)
Marcus Paige, North Carolina (junior)
Kris Dunn, Providence (junior)
Delon Wright, Utah (senior)
Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington (sophomore)
Juwan Staten, West Virginia (senior)
Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State (junior)

Player of the Year Power Rankings: Kaminsky’s postgame, Okafor’s ‘regression’

Frank Kaminsky, David Rivers, Walter Pitchford
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source: AP
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1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: Dan Dakich, polarizing as he is, is one of the best color commentators currently working in college hoops, and he had an interesting statement early on in Wisconsin’s win over Nebraska last week. “I don’t think you should double Kaminsky,” Dakich. “The weakness of Kaminsky’s game is going to score on the block, and when you double Kaminsky you leave others open.”

It was an interesting comment, because Kaminsky is quite proficient at scoring on the block. According to Synergy’s logs, 25.5 percent of the possessions Kaminsky uses are post-ups, and he’s scoring 1.011 points-per-possession (PPP) on those post touches. But it’s also where Kaminsky is actually the least-efficient, at least according to the logs on Synergy, which goes to show you just how good of a player Kaminsky actually is.

But that’s neither here nor there, and while I can show you any number of the beautiful post moves that Kaminsky had against Illinois on Sunday, that goes against the point that Dakich is trying to make. Wisconsin has too many capable passers on their roster, too many guys that are smart, and willing, enough to make a pass when a teammate comes open, and the result of doubling Kaminsky in the post is likely going to end up being an open jumper or a Wisconsin player attacking a close out.

In other words, Dakich you’re better off taking your chances 1-on-1 against Kaminsky on the block than letting the Badgers move the ball and move your defense. But frankly, neither option is ideal, because … well, because of this:

There’s a reason Wisconsin is on pace to be the most efficient offense in KenPom’s database.

2. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: Okafor responded to getting bumped out of the top spot in these rankings by going for 23 points and 13 boards on 10-for-15 shooting while holding Syracuse’s all-american center Rakeem Christmas to 11 points on 5-for-17 shooting, easily his worst game of the season.

Okafor’s season has been a fascinating one to track. He’s exceeded the hype that he had coming out of high school. He’s averaging 18.2 points and 9.3 boards on a top five team. He’s the centerpiece of the nation’s second-most efficient offense. He’s a throw-back big man, a low-post player with the kind of quick feet, soft touch and back-to-the-basket arsenal that has evoked comparisons to the likes of Tim Duncan and Kevin McHale.

We haven’t seen a player with his skill set in a long, long time, but the discussion seems to always be leaning towards who is catching up to Okafor, not how good he has been and continues to be. The same way that Kaminsky has surpassed him atop Player of the Year rankings, there is talk that Karl Towns — and, potentially, D’Angelo Russell — could end up getting picked No. 1 this June. While that’s not exactly unexpected, I hope everyone can appreciate what they’re watching with Okafor. It will be a long time before we someone that can do what he does again.

3. D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State: The last month of Russell’s collegiate career will be interesting to watch. After a stretch where he completely dominated the sport for a solid three-week stretch, Russell has struggled in three of his last four games. Ignoring the triple-double against Rutgers — that’s a lot to ignore, I know — Russell is shooting 34.1 percent from the floor and 5-for-19 from three against Purdue, Penn State and Michigan State. The Buckeyes lost to both the Boilermakers and the Spartans on the road.

Not that he wasn’t before, but Russell is going to be the focal point of everywhere defensive scheme the rest of the season. It’s a point of pride now; no one wants to be caught playing lazy defensively on the next vine of an absurd Russell bounce-pass that gets a million loops. How will he respond to really, truly being guarded?

4. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: I still don’t think Grant is getting the credit that he deserves for just how good he has been this season, and the sad thing is that he may never get it. More than any other team in the country — save, maybe, Indiana — the Irish are completely buoyed by their elite offensive attack, and Grant is the centerpiece of that offense. When he gets taken away — as Quinn Cook did in the second meeting with Duke, a 90-60 blowout loss — the Irish look lost. But if this group ends up getting bounced early in the NCAA tournament again, he’ll end up getting written off as just another overhyped star on an overrated Notre Dame team. I hope that doesn’t happen.

5. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Cauley-Stein has been paying attention to his detractors, it seems. “I feel the whole criticism is I’m soft. Or something like that,” he told reporters after Kentucky’s win over South Carolina on Saturday. “I’m just going to dunk over people. I don’t see how you can start calling me soft if I’m dunking on people. That’s my whole mentality going into games now.” That’s scary, because that quote came a week after he did this to Florida’s Devin Robinson and five days after dunking on LSU’s Jordan Mickey four times in one game. Whatever Cauley-Stein has planned next, let’s just hope he will continue to wear hats like this:


6. Delon Wright, Utah: At this point, Wright is probably somewhat underrated from a national perspective. He’s the point man for a Utah defense that is No. 7 nationally, according to KenPom, and he also happens to be one of the most efficient offense players in the country despite the fact that he doesn’t shoot a ton of threes, a difficult task for a point guard. How? He rarely makes the wrong play. He’s sports one of the nation’s best assist rates as well as one of the highest assist-to-turnover ratios. He rarely settles for jumpers, instead attacking the paint where he’s a 58.1 percent shooter from inside the arc. He finishes around the rim, he draws fouls and he makes his free throws.

In short, Wright understands what his strengths and weaknesses are as a player, and he plays to them. That’s an incredibly valuable skill for a star with a notable weakness (three-point range) to have.

7. Kris Dunn, Providence: Dunn has put up some incredible numbers this season — 15.4 points, 5.8 boards, 7.6 assists — but he’s simply been a turnover machine at times. He’s averaging 4.2 giveaways on the season, and he’s committed less than three turnovers in just six of the 26 games the Friars have played. Those turnovers are the reason he rarely shows up on Player of the Year lists.

8. T.J. McConnell, Arizona: Stanley Johnson might end up being the popular pick for the All-American on this year’s Arizona roster, but I think McConnell is having a more valuable, if not better season. He’s embraced his role as point guard when Arizona is playing well, but he’s also taken over games in which the Wildcats have struggled.

9. Seth Tuttle, Northern Iowa: Only two players in the country — BYU’s Tyler Haws and UC-Davis’ Corey Hawkins — have a higher offensive rating than Tuttle while using at least 28.0 percent of their team’s offensive possessions than Tuttle. He’s an unbelievable shooter — 48.6 percent from three and 65.5 percent from two — that anchors Northern Iowa’s offense. He’s can also do things like this:

Tuttle deserves to be in this conversation.

10. Justin Anderson, Virginia: We’ll get into this a little more later this afternoon, but if Virginia’s struggles over the course of the last three games have proven anything, it’s that Justin Anderson truly deserved his spot on this list. He’s Virginia’s best shooter, best perimeter defender, toughest player and leader. Replacing that was not as easy as some of us (ahem, me) originally thought.

OTHERS THAT WERE CONSIDERED: Ron Baker (Wichita State), Ryan Boatright (UConn), Kyle Collinsworth (BYU), Rakeem Christmas (Syracuse), Tyler Haws (BYU), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Stanley Johnson (Arizona), Jarell Martin (LSU), Jordan Mickey (LSU), Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming), Georges Niang (Iowa State), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Bobby Portis (Arkansas), Juwan Staten (West Virginia), Melo Trimble (Maryland), Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), Brad Waldow (St. Mary’s), Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga), Joseph Young (Oregon)

Player of the Year Power Rankings: It’s time for Frank Kaminsky to get his due

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1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: I went in-depth on this topic last week, but Frank Kaminsky is statistically having one of the greatest seasons in recent history. Wisconsin is on pace to finish the season as the most efficient offense in the KenPom era, which dates back to 2002. And Kaminsky is the biggest factor in that offense, notching an obscene 126.7 player rating while using 27.8 percent of Wisconsin’s possessions. The only player to have a rating that high while using that many possessions since 2004 was Utah State’s Spencer Nelson back in 2005. That same season, Travis Diener posted a 126.6 offensive rating while using 30.5 percent of Marquette’s possessions. For comparison’s sake, in 2008, Kevin Love finished the season with an offensive rating of 126.6 while using 27.7 percent of UCLA’s possessions.

That’s a lot of numbers to throw at you, but where Okafor was a clear front-runner for the Player of the Year award for much of the first three months of the season, at this point, I think Kaminsky has overtaken him at this point. That’s less of a knock on Okafor than it is recognition for the season that Kaminsky is having.

So while you chew on that, let’s watch Frank Kaminsky pass out when he hears that he’s the No. 2 pick in Gameday’s college basketball draft:

2. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: Okafor’s limitations on the defensive end of the floor were on full display on Monday night, as the seven-footer was on the receiving end of a brutal Mozgoving at the hands of Florida State’s Phil Cofer. Despite his size and his wingspan, Okafor couldn’t get up high enough to do anything other than foul Cofer on his way to the rim.

That said, I’ve watched a lot of tape on Duke defensively over the last two days, and I actually think Okafor is getting better on that end of the floor. He’s never going to be a defensive menace the likes of Anthony Davis or, say, Tyson Chandler, but I think that his issues this season have had just as much to do with, A) Inexperience when it comes to his ability to defend outside of the paint, specifically in ball-screen actions, and B) An effort by the Duke coaching to keep him out of foul trouble and on the floor. He’s been much better on that end in the wins over Notre Dame and Florida State, but he also missed extended minutes in both first halves with two fouls.

Anyway, Okafor had some funny words about the poster last night:

If you’ve never been dunked on, you’ve never played basketball at a high level.

3. D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State: I’m running out of things to say about Russell this season, so instead of be bombarding you with stats and number proving how good he is, why don’t you just watch every highlight from his 23-point, 11-assist, 11-rebound triple double against Rutgers. The passes he throws are on another level:

4. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Jerian Grant struggled mightily in Notre Dame’s ugly loss at Duke on Saturday, finishing with just seven points and four assists. It wasn’t the kind of sterling performance we’ve come to expect from the All-American, but credit needs to be given to Quinn Cook, who face-guarded Grant from the tip and forced Notre Dame to essentially play four-on-four.

5. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky: Karl Towns has been Kentucky’s best player over the course of the last week, but after watching the Wildcats move past both Georgia and Florida this week, I was reminded why Cauley-Stein ranked so high on this list earlier in the season. He’s arguably the most important piece in Kentucky’s historically good defense. He doesn’t log as many blocked shots as Towns, but that’s because Cauley-Stein is typically guarding the more perimeter-oriented big man, the just most likely to be used in ball-screen actions. And it’s his ability to switch onto ball-handlers that has made the Wildcats so good in that area. According to Synergy, Kentucky allows just 0.652 points-per-possession against pick-and-rolls, which is second nationally to Rhode Island. Oh, and this:

6. Kris Dunn, Providence: Dunn doesn’t get the hype that guys like D’Angelo Russell and Delon Wright do, but he’s having just as good of a season running the show for a Providence team that may very well be the second-best in the Big East. He’s averaging 15.1 points, 7.5 assists, 6.0 boards and 2.6 steals, and while the knock on him his entire career has been his ability to shoot from the perimeter, but he’s 10-for-20 from three in the last six games. He’d be higher on this list if it wasn’t for the 4.3 turnovers he averages.

7. Delon Wright, Utah: Wright has been terrific this season, but it’s hard not to notice just how much he as struggled in Utah’s losses to Arizona and UCLA. Against the Wildcats, he started hot but finished with just 10 points. Against UCLA, his final stat line was decent enough — 15 points, six boards, two assists on 6-for-9 shooting — but the Bruins took him away from 36 minutes in a game that Utah trailed by a large margin for the entire second half.

9. Justin Anderson, Virginia: Anderson went down with a broken finger on his left (shooting) hand that will require surgery and keep him out until the postseason. Anderson wasn’t necessarily a go-to guy for Virginia, but he is their best perimeter defender and was shooting just under 50.0 percent from three.

9. Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse: I’m going to give the man they call Rak some love here because it seems like it’s the only place where anyone will give him the respect that he’s due. Christmas is one of the greatest stories in college basketball this season, going from a three-year bit player for the Orange to a center averaging 18.5 points, 9.6 boards and 2.3 blocks, the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal Syracuse season. Christmas won’t be playing in the postseason this year thanks to the utterly shameful, self-imposed ban that the university put into place, but that shouldn’t take any of the luster off of what has been a phenomenal year for him.

10. T.J. McConnell, Arizona: Stanley Johnson may actually be a more deserving Player of the Year candidate, but McConnell deserves some love as well. Outside of Delon Wright, there may not be a more important player in the Pac-12 this year. McConnell is the quintessential point guard for Sean Miller, a guy who has no issue distributing the ball but has proven he can take over a game when his team needs him to.

OTHERS THAT WERE CONSIDERED: Ron Baker (Wichita State), Ryan Boatright (UConn), Kyle Collinsworth (BYU), Tyler Haws (BYU), Buddy Hield (Oklahoma), Stanley Johnson (Arizona), Jarell Martin (LSU), Jordan Mickey (LSU), Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming), Georges Niang (Iowa State), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga), Bobby Portis (Arkansas), Juwan Staten (West Virginia), Melo Trimble (Maryland), Seth Tuttle (Northern Iowa), Brad Waldow (St. Mary’s), Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga), Joseph Young (Oregon)