Who Should Be College Basketball's Player of the Year?

Jake,

I'll get to your point about Kentucky. But first, a moment of silence.

Shhhh.

Okay. Better now. That was for the Pac-12, home of my beloved Arizona Wildcats, a downtrodden, MINO (major-in-name-only) conference that definitely won't be discussed in any player of the year debates. Sadly for me—and fortunately for Duke—Derrick Williams isn't walking through that door.

That said, the relative ineptitude of the Pac-12 touches on the essential nature of college basketball in 2012, which in turn leads to my preferred Wooden Award candidate. (I'll leave the Naismith to the East Coast snobs that once selected Danny Ferry over Sean Elliott). Follow along: Unlike college football and the rest of American society, college hoops is moving away from stratification and toward greater equality. The gap between the blueblood and big-conference haves—such as, ahem, Kansas and Kentucky—and the traditional have-nots seemingly shrinks every year.

Remember how shocking it was when George Mason made the Final Four? Or how unusual it seemed when Gonzaga's Adam Morrison battled Duke's J.J. Redick for player of the year honors? To borrow a writerly tic from George Will: well. Last season, BYU's Jimmer Fredette became the campus answer to the Beatles. VCU recently made the Final Four. Steph Curry nearly carried Davidson there. Butler has played in back-to-back title games. Heck, Harvard is a top 25 team this year—and also the alma mater of New York Knicks guard Jeremy Lin, who only happens to be breakout Internet folk hero of the truncated NBA season.

(Fun fact: Butler had as many former players on 2011-2012 NBA opening day rosters as Illinois).

In college hoops, there never has been a better time to be a member of the 99 percent. Which is why I'm going with Doug McDermott, Creighton's sharp-shooting sophomore small forward.

Granted, Kansas' Robinson has a backstory that's even better than his all-around production; yes, Kentucky's Super Six are probably the most talented collective of surefire future pros since Rick Pitino's mid-1990s Wildcats squads. (That said, Jake, I don't think they qualify as a Serpentor-esque player of the year amalgam any more than Kemba Walker should be listed at the 2011 national champion in the NCAA record book). McDermott has the requisite numbers: 23.3 points per game, 8.4 rebounds and a 50 percent three-point percentage—which, by the way, is better than Dwight Howard's free throw percentage. More than that, McDermott epitomizes the game's zeitgeist. He played next to coveted recruit and current North Carolina star Harrison Barnes in high school, yet didn't receive a single major scholarship offer. His own father, then-Iowa State coach Greg McDermott, offered him a walk-on spot.

And now? McDermott is flourishing, playing for his dad—who took the Creighton job in 2010—and putting up better numbers than Barnes. McDermott in 2012! Power to the people! #OccupyMarch.

–Patrick

Presented by

Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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