College basketball: Who are the National Player of the Year candidates to watch?
Houston, Texas - As college basketball's March Madness quickly approaches, so is the decision on the finalist for the National Player of the Year award.
While there is a bulk of conference play still ahead, fans have witnessed enough action on the hardwood to learn who are the top contenders for the big individual honors, including the Naismith National Player of the Year Award.
It's the just about the highest honor a college basketball player can receive and only two players in its history have ever won it multiple times: Bill Walton (1973-74) and Ralph Sampson (1981-83)
So with the semifinalists being announced soon, here's a breakdown of the front-runners for the award.
Zach Edey, center – Purdue
Since the start of the year, 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey has been towering over national and conference competition to lead his No. 1 ranked Boilermakers to a 19-1 record after being unranked in the preseason.
The top Naismith trophy and Big Ten play of the Year candidate averages 30+ minutes per game, and leads the conference in scoring and rebounding, and ranking second in blocks.
Incredibly, on Monday, Edey became just the third player in a major-conference to average at least 20.0 points and 13.0 rebounds in the first 20 games of a single season.
Jalen Wilson, forward – Kansas
When the reigning national champions returned to the court this season, they did so without the superstars Remy Martin, Ochai Agbaji, Christian Braun, and David McCormack who all were drafted to the big leagues last year.
The main reason Kansas remained relevant on the court this season is the dominance of their star, Jalen Wilson. The forward is the Big 12's leading scorer, averaging 20 points per game, and second in rebounding, posting 8.8 per game.
Recording a series of double-figures this year, Wilson has become the ultimate "superman" for this Kansas team that has seemingly struggled to defend its Big 12 and national title caliber team.
Brandon Miller, small forward – Alabama
Alabama may not be just a football school anymore thanks to freshman phenom Brandon Miller, whose work on the court changed that narrative with triumph performances.
Miller has posted four double-doubles on the season, including the massive performance to take down then No. 1 Houston in a big upset.
Like Edey and Wilson, Miller is the leading scorer in his conference, the SEC, and only trails the reigning Naismith Trophy winner Oscar Tshiebwe.
One of the best perimeter shooters with a range beyond the NBA three-point line, Miller is projected to be one heck of an NBA prospect in this year's upcoming NBA Draft.
The 10 semifinalist for the Naismith College Player of the Year Award will be revealed on March 10.
Cover photo: Collage: JUSTIN CASTERLINE / BRANDON SUMRALL / JOHN E. MOORE III