College Basketball National Player of the Year Rankings: Purdue’s Zach Edey Leads a Close Race

Selection Sunday for the 2023 NCAA Tournament is just two months away as the college basketball season reaches halfway point with the national scene beginning to take shape. While the meat of the conference game is yet to come, we’ve seen enough action to know who the contenders are for some of the sport’s individual awards, including national player of the year.

Like the Heisman Trophy in college football, the national player of the year in college basketball often ends up as a team award. It’s rare for a winner to come from a program that wasn’t among the best in the country for the season. While that may be unfair to some of the game’s leading scorers, like Detroit’s Antoine Davis or UAB’s Jordan “Jelly” Walker, it’s the reality.

The reality team-oriented nature of the award also has some high-profile candidates from power conference programs floundering in the race. Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis and Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson each ranked among the best in our college basketball preseason rankings. top 100 and 1 best players. Each of his teams has been disappointing, though, and that may need to change before any of them can smell player of the year talk.

So who are the main candidates for the award? Let’s take a look at the five most obvious candidates.

PPG: 21.9 | role playing game: 13.2 | FG PCT: 63.1%

The 7-foot-4 Purdue center towers over the competition for Big Ten Player of the Year and has the No. 3 Boilermakers off to an amazing 15-1 start after they were unranked to start the season. After playing just 19 minutes per game last season while splitting time with Trevion Williams, the junior has seamlessly translated his efficiency into a far greater workload. Now logging 31.3 minutes per game, Edey ranks first in the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding and second in blocks.

Edey is shooting 63.1% from the field and making a career-high 74.5% of his free throws, which makes defending him a nightmare. He also commits fewer fouls, despite playing significantly more minutes, than he did during his first two seasons of college basketball. The scary thing for the Big Ten and college basketball is that Edey may play at least one more season of college basketball after this one. Given his lack of outside shooting and defensive limitations on the perimeter, it’s easy to imagine Edey walking away from the pro game to return to Purdue. For now, he’s in a great position to be sports player of the year.

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PPG: 20.6 | role playing game:9.1 | FG PCT: 57.4%

Arizona lost three NBA Draft picks to last season’s team, which was ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament. But the No. 9 Wildcats have barely missed a beat due to Tubelis’ terrific offensive play. The 6-11 junior leads the Pac-12 in scoring at 20.6 points per game and rebounding at 9.1 boards per game. He’s playing more minutes than he has at any point in his career, but he’s shooting 57.4% from the field and 79.3% from the free throw line. He’s even shown some touch from the outside, going 8 of 18 from 3-point range.

With the Wildcats often playing as a second big man alongside Tubelis in Oumar Ballo, Tubelis’ ability to stretch the court and get defenders away from the basket with a shot from the perimeter has been a nice touch. He has reached double figures in every game and is delivering less of the basketball than in his first two seasons, despite the increased workload. Perhaps the highlight of Tubelis’ season to date is the fact that he has made at least six field goals in every game. Regardless of the opposition, Tubelis finds a way to get buckets for one of the best teams in the nation.

PPG:20.0 | role playing game:8.8 | FG PCT: 40.7%

How has No. 2 Kansas managed to maintain a championship-level run after losing stars like Remy Martin, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun and David McCormack from last year’s team? There are several answers, but none stands out more than Wilson. The junior redshirt leads the Big 12 in scoring with 20 points per game and is second in rebounding with 8.8 boards per game.

He’s shooting a career-best 34% from 3-point range and has hit double figures in every game this season. Wilson is averaging a career-best 2.7 assists per game and is shooting a career-best 76.4% from the free-throw line. He, too, is hitting the charity streak with 5.6 tries per game. In an often undersized Kansas rotation, Wilson’s versatility at 6-8 makes him a perfect marquee player for coach Bill Self’s team.

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PPG: 21.8 | role playing game:7.9 | FG PCT: 61.5%

Much to the chagrin of Gonzaga’s competition in the West Coast Conference, Timme is back and better than ever. The senior forward isn’t sharing the spotlight with Chet Holmgren in the frontcourt this season and is feasting on 21.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. He’s also dishing out a career-high 3.5 assists per game and blocking a career-high 1.1 shots per game now that he’s logging more minutes at center following Holmgren’s departure. . The most statistically impressive element of Timme’s game this season, however, has been his offensive efficiency. He is shooting 61.5% from the ground at 14.1 shots per game.

No. 8 Gonzaga isn’t as dominant as he has been for much of his career, and Timme still hasn’t developed much of an outside shot, but there’s no question he’s still one of the best players in the nation. The Zags have quietly returned to the top 10 with nine straight wins after a relatively disappointing 5-3 start. Timme and the Zags are feasting on their opposition to the conference, as usual, and you can bet we’ll hear from them in March.

PPG: 18.8 | role playing game:8.2 | FG PCT: 43.9%

The last freshman to win Naismith Player of the Year was Zion Williamson in the 2018-19 season. Williamson averaged 22.6 points on a ridiculous 68% shooting and was No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA Draft. Miller isn’t quite that productive, but he’s been elite for a No. 4 Alabama team that appears to be SEC class. A lanky 6-9 forward, Miller is drilling 44.5% of his 3-point attempts and proving himself a versatile weapon who can help the Tide even on the rare days his shot doesn’t drop.

He leads the SEC in scoring with 19.1 points and is fourth in rebounding with 8.2 boards per contest. He also ranks second in the Crimson Tide in defensive rating behind the 7-foot-tall Charles Bediako, according to Of the players on this list, Miller is the top pro prospect, and his dark horse bid for national player of the year will only gain momentum if the Crimson Tide continue to dismantle everyone in their path.

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