College basketball's National Player of the Year race led by Purdue's Zach Edey, Kansas' Jalen Wilson – 247Sports
Purdue big man Zach Edey is widely regarded as the frontrunner National Player of the Year for good reason. The top-ranked Boilermakers are off to a 20-1 start, and Edey is putting up video game-like numbers. The 7-foot-4, 295-pound center is averaging 21.4 points, 13.0 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.3 assists per game.
But there are plenty of contenders pushing to give Edey a run for his money.
“First, I’d have to say that it’s Zach Edey’s to lose — top 10 in scoring, top five in rebounding — he’s been the most dominant,” LaPhonso Ellis said Saturday on ESPN’s College GameDay. “But next would be Jalen Wilson. He’s been absolutely incredible on the season, averaging over 20 points a game on the season, shooting around 34% from 3. Nine rebounds per game, but over the last three games, he’s averaging over 30 points per game, he’s shooting about 38% from the 3-point line. He’s been absolutely sensational. So if I had a close second, it would be the man there in blue.”
Wilson entered Saturday’s showdown against Kentucky averaging 21.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. An inconsistent jumper was one of the things NBA decision-makers asked Wilson to improve upon. He’s done just that. Wilson already has 45 3-pointers this year which is more than any other year combined. He’s shooting 34.1% from downtown on 6.6 attempts per game.
Wilson eclipsed 30 points against both Kansas State and TCU.
“Jalen played great,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after Wilson dropped 38 against rival K-State. “The kid plays 45 minutes and never comes out puts us on his back, scores 38. Has to drive it every time to get fouled. And so he played great.”
Wilson rates second in KenPom’s Player of the Year standings. Gonzaga big man Drew Timme and Indiana star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis check in third and fourth, respectively. But college basketball broadcaster Jay Bilas believes Alabama star wing Brandon Miller and Kentucky big man Oscar Tshiebwe both deserve to be in the conversation.
“Brandon Miller, from Alabama — not far behind, and then Oscar Tshiebwe is starting to play like the player of the year that he was last year,” Bilas said.
Miller has been college basketball’s best freshman in the country this season. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound wing is shooting a sizzling 44% from downtown.
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“He’s a great kid with a good personality, works really hard, really cares about his team,” Alabama coach Nate Oats said. “It is nice to have the best player on the floor most nights when you go out, though, as a coach. It makes my job a little bit easier. He can create some offense, make some tough shots when you’re struggling a little bit. We’re gonna enjoy him for the one year we’ve got him. He’s gonna be really good next year in the NBA. He’s been really good for us.”
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