Let’s own up to it – this year’s player of the year race is still open to be claimed and to me, that feels somewhat unusual for January. Most of the players in the chase for the inaugural kPOY had rather sluggish efforts coming out of the holiday break. This opened the door for something like E’Twaun Moore’s 31-point effort against Northwestern, which vaulted him from obscurity to a legitimate kPOY candidate. However, based on what we saw against Iowa last night, I’d still be shocked if Jared Sullinger doesn’t stay at the top of the list from here on out.
(Standings through Sunday’s games.)
1. Jared Sullinger, Ohio St. (Rating of .496, Last week: 1st) Before posting 24 and 12 against the Hawkeyes, it was over two weeks since Sullinger scored 20. Though Melsahn Basabe and Jarryd Cole caused him a few problems, Sullinger’s numbers, big or not-as-big, typically come with a minimum of missed shots or turnovers.
2. Terrence Jones, Kentucky (.487, LW: 2nd) Jones was not the headliner in UK’s romp over Louisville. However, the entirety of Jones’ season-long quality in a number of different categories, combined with the Wildcats’ strong play, keeps him ranked highly for another week.
3. E’Twaun Moore, Purdue (.466, LW: 9th) Purdue’s tandem climbs again as the Boilermakers continue to string together dominant games. Moore’s aggregate 52-point/one-turnover performance against Michigan and Northwestern allows him to jump over a bunch of players.
4. JaJuan Johnson, Purdue (.459, LW: 7th) Johnson was less spectacular than his teammate, but 40 points and three turnovers is quite nice as well, and contributed to Purdue’s 1.25 points per possession of offense through two Big Ten games.
5. Jon Leuer, Wisconsin (.448, LW: 4th) Leuer’s production is coming back down to earth after going 7-18 on 2’s and 4-13 on 3’s against Minnesota and Illinois.
6. Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young (.444, LW: 3rd) Fredette played sparingly in a rout of NAIA Fresno Pacific. He’s got a chance to make up ground with a good effort in tonight’s showdown at UNLV.
7. Nolan Smith, Duke (.439, LW: 10th) Smith had an outstanding game in a home win over Miami FL. He got the CG and posted 28 points on just 15 FGA’s and 6 FTA’s.
8. Kemba Walker, Connecticut (.435, LW: 6th) Like Leuer, Walker set an unsustainable pace with his early play, and gravity is starting to take its toll. Still, his team is not in the top 30 and therefore his presence on this list is a testament to how important he is to the Huskies. He gets another national showcase on Saturday at Texas.
9. Derrick Williams, Arizona (.411, LW: 5th) Losing to Oregon State in a game where he missed seven of ten free throws was enough to send his stock plummeting.
10. Jordan Hamilton, Texas (.374, LW: 8th) Hamilton scored 24 in a win against Coppin State, but needed a career-high 14 three-point attempts to get there.