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College Basketball Player of the Year Rankings: Final Top 20


The 2011-12 college basketball regular season is long gone, and Selection Sunday is right around the corner. Even as a majority of conferences are handing out accolades left and right, the sport's two biggest individual awards, the Naismith and Wooden, won't be announced until early April. That's way too long to wait.

Thankfully for you, we already know how the voting will play out. The final top 20 after the jump...

20. J'Covan Brown - Texas
Important Numbers: 20.0 points per game, 114.3 ORating, 31.6% shot percentage
Peak Ranking: 11 (Weeks 15/16)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: Brown made a major leap from a maturity standpoint as a junior, and looked quite comfortable shouldering the bulk of the offense for Rick Barnes this season. His 42% shooting percentage is lower than you'd like to see from a guy who takes so many shots, but we're talking about a player who always found a way show up big in Texas' most important games. Barnes has a track record of losing underclassmen early to the NBA, so it will be interesting to see if he opts to stick around for a final season.

19. Mike Moser - UNLV
Important Numbers: 13.9 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, 28.4% defensive rebounding percentage
Peak Ranking: 15 (Week 15)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: The UCLA transfer was easily one of the most productive big men in college hoops this year, even though he only tips the scales at about 210 pounds (big man?). Moser's versatility and all-around game were often masked by his flat-out dominant rebounding stats, and you won't find many elite rebounders who can chip in 2.4 assists, 1.9 blocks, 0.9 steals and hit 33.6% of their three-point attempts in addition to dominating the glass each night. Moser truly is a rare talent, and it's hard to imagine he won't have a sizable impact at the next level whenever he decides to leave school.

18. Tyler Zeller - North Carolina
Important Numbers: 16.9 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, 14.6% offensive rebounding percentage
Peak Ranking: 18 (Final)
Week 1 Ranking: 24

The Word: Zeller made a late push for ACC Player of the Year, and with North Carolina currently atop the conference after slaughtering Duke over the weekend, there's a good chance he wins. But the seven-footer was not quite as exceptional in non-conference play, so there's a slight discrepancy between him and his fellow UNC teammates in these final rankings. Zeller is not the best scorer, shooter, rebounder, or shot blocker on the Heels' roster. And, for a while that felt like a serious knock on his game. Now, though, we realize that he might actually do a combination of all of those things better than anybody on this title-contending UNC squad.

17. John Henson - North Carolina
Important Numbers: 10.3 rebounds per game, 3.0 blocks per game, 24.9% defensive rebounding percentage
Peak Ranking: 11 (Weeks 8/9/10/12/13/14)
Week 1 Ranking: 20

The Word: Henson is usually in the mix for individual awards because of his elite ability to block shots and snag rebounds. Though it's becoming awfully hard to place him nowadays, seeing as how his numbers really didn't improve much from his sophomore to junior season. Still, he remains a vital cog on a championship-caliber team and turned in another outstanding defensive campaign.

16. Jae Crowder - Marquette
Important Numbers: 17.6 points per game, 123.5 ORating, 2.4 steals per game
Peak Ranking: 16 (Final)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: Crowder and teammate Darius Johnson-Odom each played exceptional ball down the stretch. Back when his percentages were bordering on elite territory, DJO even grabbed a cup of brief cup of coffee in the rankings for a week earlier in the season. Crowder, though, exploded as a scorer/rebounder during Marquette's push to close the season, and clearly impressed opposing coaches enough to wind up being selected as the 2012 Big East POY.

15. Royce White - Iowa State
Important Numbers: 12.9 points per game, 9.2 rebounds per game, 5.2 assists per game
Peak Ranking: 15 (Final)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: Versatility, versatility, versatility. Few players are in White's class as an all-around player, and even fewer would be able to replicate his 13-9-5 line if given the opportunity. If it weren't for White's 48.1% free throw percentage and 3.9 turnovers per game, he could have found himself as a viable national candidate instead of just a Big 12 one. Assuming he returns to Ames for another year of overachieving with The Mayor, White could definitely find himself in the top ten in 2012-13.

14. Harrison Barnes - North Carolina
Important Numbers: 17.4 points per game, 39.6% three-point shooting percentage, 111.8 ORating
Peak Ranking: 2 (Weeks 1/2/3/4)
Week 1 Ranking: 2

The Word: Even if it feels this way, it's impossible to say that Barnes declined as a player from his freshman to sophomore season. But based on what we saw him do a year ago in March, there was a legitimate reason to expect a POY-like campaign from Harrison in year two. And whether it was the presence of a handful of other elite talents or the fact that he's simply not that guy, Barnes didn't give us the year we expected from him statistically. To finish in 14th feels like a woeful season for a kid this talented, but that's not really the case. Barnes was good, but not great, too many times in 2011-12.

13. Mike Scott - Virginia
Important Numbers: 17.9 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game, 24.2% defensive rebounding percentage
Peak Ranking: 13 (Final)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: Virginia's prodding pace appears to be the main culprit for keeping Scott's numbers low enough to seriously threaten for anything on the national scene. Not many big men can compare with Scott's from an efficiency standpoint, and he doesn't appear to have very many weaknesses in his game aside from perimeter shooting. The issue has really been about producing the big stat-lines in big games, and until lately Scott really didn't do this very often. And with only four double-doubles in 16 ACC games, it's hard to give him a unanimous edge over anyone else in the league, let alone the country.

12. Isaiah Canaan - Murray State
Important Numbers: 19.2 points per game, 47.3% three point shooting percentage, 124.7 ORating
Peak Ranking: 12 (Weeks 16/17/Final)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: Canaan initially rose to prominence during the middle stage of his team's road to perfection, and stuck around after a handful of hot shooting performances kept Murray afloat. The efficiency at which he plays the game of basketball is startling to see live and then compare to back on paper. It almost doesn't make sense to find out he hits threes at a 50% clip after seeing him seemingly toss up prayers throughout a 40-minute game. Canaan probably won't draw nearly this much love in the national ballots, there's always time for a redux if he comes back to Murray next season.

11. Scott Machado - Iona
Important Numbers: 13.6 points per game, 9.9 assists per game, 52.6% two-point shooting percentage
Peak Ranking: 8 (Week 16)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: The NCAA's assist leader from start to finish, Machado orchestrated one of the nation's most prolific offenses, and did so while scoring nearly 15 points per night. Compared to a player like North Carolina's Kendall Marshall, who is almost entirely a pass-first player and does little else but differ to teammates, Machado's scoring, three-point shooting (41.4%), and rebounding (5.0 per game) are utter revelations. The video game numbers are real, people. This kid killed it all year long.

10. Reggie Hamilton - Oakland
Important Numbers: 25.7 points per game, 5.1 assists per game, 41.8% three-point shooting percentage
Peak Ranking: 10 (Final)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: Hamilton's career came to a close on Sunday night in Oakland's Summit League tourney loss to Southern Utah, but hopefully that his amazing senior campaign will get the love it deserves in the coming weeks. The NCAA's scoring leader wrapped up the final chapter of his time with the Grizzlies on an insane scoring tear, dropping 30+ points in ten of OU's final 13 games to snag the national scoring title. Even after such a ridiculous season, the 5'11" Hamilton will leave college as a largely unknown and unheralded commodity.

9. Will Barton - Memphis
Important Numbers: 18.7 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, 2.9 assists per game
Peak Ranking: 9 (Weeks 13/Final)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: Barton morphed from a raw, budding talent who couldn't shoot a lick to a 19-8 swingman who paces his squad in virtually every statistical category. He improved his field goal shooting by an absurd 9.7% (42.8% to 52.5%). From behind the arc he transitioned from a 26.5% clank-artist to a respectable 34.0% shooter. And all of this happened for a sophomore who took on a leadership role from day one of the season. One heck of an improvement.

8. Damian Lillard - Weber State
Important Numbers: 24.5 points per game, 3.9 assists per game, 43.6% three-point shooting percentage
Peak Ranking: 8 (Weeks 17/Final)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: He was a 20-point scorer two years ago as a sophomore, but Lillard really came into his own during his senior year with legions of NBA scouts hovering. Viewed as a possible lottery pick in June, it seemed like Lillard made defenses pay off the dribble and from the perimeter every time he touched the ball for Weber State this year. The kid absolutely deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with some of the guys who surround him in these rankings.

7. Jared Sullinger - Ohio State
Important Numbers: 16.9 points per game, 9.3 rebounds per game, 25.5% defensive rebounding percentage
Peak Ranking: 1 (Weeks 1/2/3/4/5/6/7)
Week 1 Ranking: 1

The Word: The plan for Sullinger to drop weight in the offseason made sense. The results, though, don't make much at all. Sully's minutes went down from last year. His points, rebounds, assists and shooting percentage are all down too. Turnovers and fouls? Both up. The answer for this appears to be similar to what we saw with Harrison Barnes. Basically, we're looking at a great player on a great team who doesn't need to be great every single night. So because of this he turns in a slew of good and very good performances. Then again, Sullinger's value to Ohio State is so immense that it's plausible that keeping him refreshed for a postseason run is more important than padding his regular season numbers.

6. Marcus Denmon - Missouri
Important Numbers: 18.0 points per game, 62.8% true shooting percentage, 128.0 ORating
Peak Ranking: 5 (Weeks 10/11)
Week 1 Ranking: 25

The Word: Denmon was one of about a dozen viable candidates at the midpoint of the season, but lost his touch a bit from the outside against some tough Big 12 opponents and never made a run. While some of his percentages are down a bit from his junior year, it's obvious that Denmon's growth as a player has been a huge factor in Missouri's rise to national prominence. He might be the most dangerous, most influential spot-up shooter in the sport.

5. Kevin Jones - West Virginia
Important Numbers: 20.0 points per game, 11.2 rebounds per game, 54.9% effective field goal percentage
Peak Ranking: 4 (Week 13)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: First of all, no other player in college hoops averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per night. Jones was dropping 20-10's like they were nothing all year. Regardless of whether West Virginia won the game or not, Jones would find a way to get his numbers every time he hit the court, and that alone is impressive enough. Even though the lack of team success always felt like it was going to bite him in the end, Jones deserves heavy praise for the year he had and the consistency by which he produced.

4. Doug McDermott - Creighton
Important Numbers: 23.2 points per game, 8.2 rebounds per game, 61.0% field goal percentage
Peak Ranking: 3 (Weeks 13/14)
Week 1 Ranking: n/a

The Word: For a while there it looked like McDermott was going to go all Jimmer on us and snatch the POY away from the power conference folk with a slew of big scoring outputs. But the MVC slate proved to be a little tougher on a nightly basis than some figured, and Doug eventually lost his grip on the national scoring lead. And without that, it's a bit tricky for a mid-major kid to steal acclaim from the big boys. Still though, McDermott turned in a 1st Team All-American-type season and was not very far off the pace.

3. Draymond Green - Michigan State (4%)
Important Numbers: 16.2 points per game, 10.3 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists per game
Peak Ranking: 18 (Final)
Week 1 Ranking: 9

The Word: The tragic third wheel in a two-man race, Green's monster senior season already earned him some hardware in the form of Big Ten Player of the Year, and hopefully in a few months it'll help his draft stock a bit too. After watching hours and hours and hours of college hoops this year, I'm not sure I saw a guy who more willingly put his team on his back than Green. His all-around numbers, for as much as they deserve automatic praise, are hardly a full picture of his overall worth to the guys around him. Green is both a leader and the best player on the court every time he steps on it, and come to think of it, might be the most valuable player to his team in the sport.

2. Thomas Robinson - Kansas (38%)
Important Numbers: 18.0 points per game, 11.9 rebounds per game, 32.2% defensive rebounding percentage
Peak Ranking: 18 (Final)
Week 1 Ranking: 11

The Word: This is where things get difficult. T-Rob held the top spot more times than Davis (7 to 4). He scores more than Davis. He rebounds more than Davis. He also plays in a tougher conference than Davis. But is there anything Robinson brings to the table that can equate to 4.7 blocks per game? That's the thing that kept bothering me as I kept going back and forth comparing the two. Robinson might be the best rebounding big man in America, and a star in the NBA one day, but I just don't think he did quite enough over the course of the season to beat out Davis' line.

1. Anthony Davis - Kentucky (58%)
Important Numbers: 14.4 points per game, 4.7 blocks per game, 138.1 ORating
Peak Ranking: 1 (Weeks 15/16/17/Final)
Week 1 Ranking: 15

The Word: It was closer than many would think, but Davis gets the nod as the best college basketball player of the 2011-12 regular season. In the end, three or four extra points and one or two extra rebounds per night from peers were not enough to offset what Davis brought to the defensive side of things. The freshman anchors the No. 1 team and most menacing defense in America, and has continued to pile up blocks at an alarming rate despite the fact that teams are making premeditated attempts to avoid him. There is plenty of room for debate, to be sure, but there's no denying how truly amazing Davis has been in his first year at the college level.