Sunday afternoon the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced the four finalists for the Naismith Trophy, which is given annually to the best player in college basketball. The finalists are Arizona junior guard Nick Johnson, Creighton senior forward Doug McDermott, Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker and Louisville senior guard Russ Smith.
Of the four finalists just one, McDermott, has been a finalist for the Naismith Trophy before with the Big East Player of the Year making the list in both 2012 and 2013. Fan votes will account for one-fourth of of the selection process, with voting opening up March 24 and continuing until April 5. The winner will be announced April 6 in Dallas.
McDermott and Johnson won Player of the Year awards in their respective conferences this season, and all four have made various All-America teams since the end of the regular season. McDermott, the favorite to win many of the major individual awards, is averaging 27.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per contest. Johnson, who helped lead Arizona to a Pac-12 regular season title and a one-seed in the NCAA tournament, has accounted for 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game for Sean Miller’s Wildcats.
Smith has been the leader for a Louisville team that is in the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season and won both the regular season (shared with Cincinnati) and tournament titles in the American Athletic Conference. Smith is averaging 18.1 points, 4.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game for the defending national champions. And Parker, the ACC’s Freshman of the Year, averaged 19.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for a Duke team that finished the season with a record of 26-9 (13-5 ACC).