Guys like Ron Steele, Brian Randle, Malik Hairston and Corey Brewer have
gotten off to slow starts due to injuries.
Here's our take, in order, of the Top 20 candidates for the National Player
of the Year:
1) Alando Tucker, 6-6, F, Sr., Wisconsin - The Josh Howard-clone is the
primary reason why the Badgers are 9-1 and No. 4 in the country. He's scoring at
21.2 points per game and grabbing 4.4 boards per contest. He needs to shoot
better from the line (66 percent) and his rebounding numbers have dropped from
5.7 last season to 4.4.
2) Jermareo Davidson, 6-10, PF, Sr., Alabama - It's remarkable that with
everything he's been through, Davidson is putting up 16.1 points, 10.6 boards
and 4.8 blocks per game. With Steele banged up, Davidson has picked up the
slack. The Crimson Tide are No. 10 in the nation largely because of Davidson.
3) Jared Dudley, 6-7, F, Sr., Boston College - While the Eagles lost a couple
of early season games they shouldn't have, it's hard to fault the San Diego
native. He's putting up 19.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and is shooting
61 percent from the field and 43 percent from long distance.
4) Tyler Hansbrough, 6-9, PF, Soph., North Carolina - Despite the influx of
freshman talent, the best player on the team remains Psycho T. Hansbrough is
averaging 18.9 points and 8.1 boards in 29 minutes per game - nearly identical
numbers as what he put up his freshman campaign.
5) Nick Fazekas, 6-11, PF, Sr., Nevada - The Wolf Pack have managed to stick
in the Top 25 despite a home loss to UNLV. The skilled and versatile senior is
putting up 20.6 points and 12.8 boards per game. He's also shooting the ball
better (41 percent from long range). Fazekas needs to cut down on his turnovers
(2.7 per game).
6) Kevin Durant, 6-9, F, Fr., Texas - Just a freshman, Durant has been the
primary reason for the Longhorns early season success despite their
inexperience. Durant is averaging 20.4 points, 9 boards, 1.7 steals and 2.3
blocks per contest. He's shooting 46 percent from the field and 92 percent from
the line (43 of 47 for the year).
7) Glen Davis, 6-8, PF, Jr., LSU - Big Baby has lost weight and his numbers
have started to increase. He's averaging 20.1 points and 10.3 boards per game,
but his turnovers have increased from 2.7 to 3.6 per game. He is spending too
much of his time on the perimeter so far this season.
8) Aaron Gray, 7-0, C, Sr., Pittsburgh - The numbers may not appear as though
Gray has made the kind of progress he did between his sophomore and junior
campaign, but he's putting up a double-double (16.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg) and has cut
down on his turnovers (1.7 per game) and is also finishing better (63 percent
from the field as opposed to 53 percent last season).
9) Ivan Radenovic, 6-10, PF, Sr., Arizona - It's difficult to pick someone
for Arizona, but the skilled Serbian has been the most consistent Wildcat.
Radenovic leads the No. 9 team in the land in scoring (17.4) and rebounding
(7.8) while shooting 57 percent from the field and making half of his shots from
10) Mario Boggan, 6-7, PF, Sr., Oklahoma State - The well-traveled big man
has finally started to tap into his potential. He's leading the Cowboys in
scoring (20.5) and rebounding (7) and led Sean Sutton's team to 10 straight wins
before Monday's loss at Tennessee.
11) Jarrius Jackson, 6-1, G, Sr., Texas Tech - Versatile guard who can really
score. Jackson is averaging 21.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and is shooting 57 percent
from 3-point land (33-of-58).
12) Greg Oden, 7-0, C, Fr., Ohio State - Sure, he's only played three games.
However, he's a difference-maker. In fact, he's the
difference-maker. He's averaging 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.3 blocks thus
far in 24 minutes per game - while playing without the full use of his shooting
13) Carl Landry, 6-7, F, Sr., Purdue - He's come back with a vengeance after
missing last season due to injury. Putting up 19.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per
game for a surprising Boilermakers club.
14) Arron Afflalo, 6-5, SG, Jr., UCLA - It's tough not to have a guy from the
top-ranked team in the land on the list. Afflalo's numbers are hardly
eye-popping, but he is leading the team in scoring (16.3). Afflalo is a terrific
defender, but needs to rebound (1.9) better.
15) P.J. Couisnard, 6-4, SF, Jr., Wichita State - I know. Who? He's the glue
guy for the team with the best early season resume in the nation. He just does
it all. Have a look: 11.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3
blocks. He's also shooting 56 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3-point
land. Oh yeah, the Shockers are 8-0 and No. 8 in the nation.
16) Rob Kurz, 6-9, PF, Jr., Notre Dame - Here's another guy not many people
know much about. The skilled forward is putting up impressive numbers for the
20th-ranked Irish. Take a look: 15.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2
steals, 1.6 blocks while shooting 60 percent from the field, 92 percent from the
line and 47 percent from long range.
17) Morris Almond, 6-6, SF, Sr., Rice - Obviously, he won't win the award
because his team is .500. However, the Georgia native is leading the nation in
scoring at 30.1 points per game, is also a solid rebounder (5.3) and doesn't
take a lot of bad shots. He's making 54 percent of his field goals and 48
percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
18) Al Horford, 6-8, PF, Jr., Florida - On a team that has struggled early,
he's been the Gators best player thus far. However, Horford currently has a
sprained ankle that will likely linger and slow down his production. He's
putting up 13.2 points, 8.3 boards and 2.1 blocks in just 24.1 minutes per game
for the defending national champs.
19) Dominic James, 5-11, PG, Soph., Marquette - The quick floor leader needs
to become a better shooter, but he finds a way to score. James is averaging 17.2
points and 4.1 assists, but shoots just 44 percent from the field and 31 percent
from 3-point land.
20) Chris Lofton, 6-2, SG, Jr., Tennessee - He doesn't do much else, but he's
arguably the best shooter in the country. He leads the Vols in scoring (21.5)
and is knocking down 50 percent of his 3-pointers.