In other news, we have a new leader. However, since the race from first through fifth is so tight, we’re likely to have a new leader a few more times.
(Standings through Sunday’s games.)
1. Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young (Rating of .499, Last week: 6th) Fredette only had one game last week, but it was memorable, as he scored 47 in a rout of Utah. Fredette took about 42% of his team’s shots when he was on the floor in that contest, and his usage rate stands at 11th in the country through Sunday’s action. There will be chatter about his defense, but I think most coaches are going to hide their star player on the defensive end. Also, consider that BYU’s defense is rated better than UConn’s right now, for those making the Jimmer/Kemba comparison.
2. JaJuan Johnson, Purdue (.498, LW: 2nd) Johnson leads the country in the defensive component of the kPOY. He also put up huge offensive numbers in close road losses to Minnesota and West Virginia. If you are serious about including defense in your POY vote, then Johnson is your man. He’s the best defender on arguably the nation’s best defense and his offensive production, while not at an elite level, is still very good.
3. Terrence Jones, Kentucky (.494, LW: 5th) Jones is getting zero buzz in the human POY race, so he’ll have to be content with his candidacy in this race (and I’m sure he is). Two factors are working against Jones. First, Jones never commits turnovers, a trait generally off the radar of human voters. Second, Kentucky is vastly underrated nationally, and last night’s close road loss to Alabama will only increase the gap between perception and reality. Their portfolio is very much like Washington’s – they have left absolutely no doubt in almost all of their wins.
4. Jared Sullinger, Ohio St. (.481, LW: 1st) The Buckeyes have won their last four games by five, three, four, and three points while not exactly facing the Murderer’s Row of the Big Ten. Sullinger himself has still been an efficient scorer, but his usage and rebounding rates have suffered, and thus his reign at the top of the kPOY standings comes to an end this week.
5. Nolan Smith, Duke (.473, LW: 4th) Smith is still putting up eye-popping efficiency numbers and his season-long usage figure continues to rise. He runs the point effectively while making a high percentage of his frequent shots no matter where he takes them from.
6. Jon Leuer, Wisconsin (.430, LW: 3rd) Leuer maintains a sneaky-strong profile. His 19 and 7 would turn into 24 and 9 were the Badgers playing at BYU’s pace.
7. Kemba Walker, Connecticut (.429, LW: 7th) Well, this is getting awkward. Walker’s POY claims are based on the timing of his made shots and that folks believe UConn is a top ten team, neither of which is accounted for here.
8. Kawhi Leonard, San Diego St. (.417, LW: NR) Leonard’s the Mountain West’s forgotten stud, he went for a combined 34 points, 32 rebounds, and eight assists in wins over UNLV and New Mexico last week.
9. E’Twaun Moore, Purdue (.411, LW: 7th) Since the 31-point outburst against Northwestern on December 31 that propelled Moore to the third spot on this list he has struggled with his shot. He’s gone 4-for-21 on 3’s and 11-for-36 on 2’s over his last four games.
10. Derrick Williams, Arizona (.390, LW: 9th) Williams barely stays on the list this week, despite going for 31 and 10 against Arizona State. He’s drawing a whopping nine fouls per 40 minutes. Arizona’s official measurements indicate he grew an inch and added 30 pounds from last season. Craig Robinson thinks he’s even taller.