Even though college basketball doesn’t have an award as prestigious as the Heisman, finding and recognizing the most noteworthy performances across the nation is just as important as it is for football. With more than 350 teams, it can be difficult to separate the good from the truly great.
We have identified seven players who have been good enough to not just attract interest and acclaim, but also to potentially receive college basketball’s most important individual awards.
Here’s a look at the top 7 candidates for National Player of the Year in college hoops.
1. Josh Hart, Villanova
No player has a better shot at collecting national individual honors than Villanova’s senior swingman. Not only is Hart the best player on one of the nation’s best teams, but he does absolutely everything for his club.
Hart is averaging 18.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.5 steals per game for Villanova, while playing super efficiently on both ends of the floor. He’s making 50 percent of his field goals and 40 percent of his three-point attempts.
When watching the Wildcats, it can certainly feel like Hart takes a backseat to the ball-dominance of Jalen Brunson or the volume shooting of Kris Jenkins, but at the end of the game, his line in the box score always stands out.
He’s been a silent killer this season, always waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Against Creighton this weekend, he was quiet offensively for most of the game, while rebounding and playing great team defense. Then in crunch time he exploded and finished with 16 points. It was the perfect Josh Hart game.
2. Frank Mason, Kansas
The Kansas point guard has also received some recognition as the most productive player on a good team, but Mason is so much more than that. His 20 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds per game are what make the Jayhawks go. He’s 5-foot-10 on his best day and plays 36 minutes per contest, all with an intensity and ferocity that drives the Jayhawks.
It’s difficult to find a flaw in Mason’s game.
He’s lightning quick and can get by any defender, drawing the fourth most fouls per game in the Big XII. But any opponent who gives Mason a step will regret it, with the senior sinking more than half his threes this season. He averages only 2.4 turnovers per game, despite handling the ball for the entire game and facing harsh Big XII defenses.
Any coach facing Kansas in March will have a tough time finding an answer for Frank Mason, especially in the fast-paced world of tournament play.