GRAYSON Allen, Miles Bridges, Devonte’ Graham, Allonzo Trier. All names who are expected to be some of the best in college ball this year. Mixed in with a few other dudes, including potential one and done candidates Bagley, Porter and Ayton, the field for the best player award is pretty top heavy. Just a week and a half into the new season everyone is realistically still a candidate. Although there are some names you may not have heard of that you need to remember.
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Bruce Brown Jr, Miami
IT’S a good time to be a fan of ‘The U‘. The football team is rolling, the basketball team is 3-0 to start the year and Bruce Brown is a triple-double threat everytime he steps on the court. He failed against Navy last weekend (1-10 from the field) but returned to his best with 10/11/10 in another Hurricane win. The sophomore will be forced to become a leader on this team and he is flanked by McDonald’s All American Lonnie Walker in one of the countries most intriguing backcourts. No doubt those two and the rest of their Miami teammates will have January 15th circled on their calendar and if they can beat the current No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils in that game, watch out.
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
AFTER averaging 17.8 points and 10.1 boards a game in his junior campaign, Bonzie Colson may have to rely on continued individual dominance to sway voters. A true underdog at Notre Dame, Colson is averaging over 20 points, 11 boards and three blocks on the young season and at 6’6″ and 220-pounds its a marvel that he can put up such jaw-dropping numbers. More of the same will get him a seat at the big boy’s table when it comes time to hand out the trophies.
Ben Lammers, Georgia Tech
TEAM success will probably keep one of college’s best defenders out of the award race, given the fact that Georgia Tech will be without two of their best players for an unknown period of time. Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson’s indefinite suspensions will mean that the Yellow Jackets are missing three of their top four scorers from last year. Of course, that means they will rely heavily on their senior big man, who recorded a stupid 19 point, 12 rebound, eight block, three steal stat line in their first win of the season. If Lammers keeps churning out those numbers though, Georgia Tech’s win/loss record might be somewhat irrelevant.
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Jock Landale, St Mary’s
THE formula for Jock Landale to garner national attention is relatively simple. Win every single game. It may sound farfetched to some, but with St Mary’s only scheduled to play one ranked opponent throughout their season (Gonzaga, who they play twice) it’s fair to say that they will be squaring off against inferior opponents most nights. Aussie Jock Landale is putting the finishing touches on his 22 point, nine rebound stat line as I write this in the Gaels fourth win in four tries to start the year. Should he continue to shoot over 65% from the field and increase his per game averages of 17.5 points and eight rebounds he can put his name into the award mix.
Trevon Blueitt, Xavier
THROUGH the first three games of Xavier’s season Blueitt is flat out balling. Don’t get caught sleeping on the swingman who helped the Musketeers upset No. 2 seeded Arizona in the tourney last year en route to an Elite Eight appearance. Returning for his final collegiate year, Blueitt and Xavier will be gunnin’ for Villanova’s crown atop the Big East. If they can emerge as the best team in the conference, with Blueitt a big reason behind their success we will be forced to pay more attention to the senior as a serious Wooden candidate.
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Jalen Brunson, Villanova
NO longer does Jalen Brunson have to play in the shadow of former Wooden candidate Josh Hart. With Hart in the NBA now, Brunson can dominate the headlines and box score the way many expected him too as soon as he shed the sidekick label. After scoring 22 in just 25 minutes in the first game of the year he seems ready to have the ball in his hands more in his third season of college basketball. The clear No. 1 guy now for the Wildcats has his chance to be ‘the man’ and could feature high up on the list of candidates.
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