College basketball: Miles Bridges, Jalen Brunson lead Naismith Trophy watch list
Frank Mason averaged 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists on his way to winning the 2017 Naismith Trophy.
There are several candidates, ranging from freshmen to seniors, who are in the mix to win the Naismith in 2018. With that in mind, here is the official 50-player preseason watch list:
|Adams||Jaylen||Senior||Guard||St. Bonaventure||Atlantic 10|
|Bridges||Miles||Sophomore||Guard/Forward||Michigan State||Big Ten|
|Carroll||Jeffrey||Senior||Guard||Oklahoma State||Big 12|
|Carter||Jevon||Senior||Guard||West Virgina||Big 12|
|Daum||Mike||Junior||Forward||South Dakota State||Summit League|
|Delgado||Angel||Senior||Center||Seton Hall||BIG EAST|
|Hutchison||Chandler||Senior||Guard||Boise State||Mountain West|
|Shamet||Landry||Sophomore||Guard||Wichita State||American Athletic|
|Ward||Nick||Sophomore||Forward||Michigan State||Big Ten|
The first name that jumps out is Bridges, who surprised many by returning to Michigan State for his sophomore season. As a freshman, the explosive hybrid forward averaged 16.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Oh, and he did stuff like this:
Bridges plays an electrifying brand of basketball and figures to be the best player on a national title contender. Michigan State is the No. 2 team in the preseason AP Top 25.
Another guy to keep an eye on is Villanova’s Brunson, who won a national championship as a freshman and had a breakout year as a sophomore. Brunson averaged 14.7 points and 4.1 assists last season, but did his best work in Big East play, shooting 56 percent from the floor in league games. Josh Hart, who was in contention for last year’s Naismith Trophy, is gone. The Wildcats are Brunson’s team now. He has a chance to burst onto the national radar.
As usual, there are some ultra-talented freshmen that could gain some steam this year. Missouri’s Michael Porter, Jr., Arizona’s Deandre Ayton and Duke’s Marvin Bagley are names that come to mind. All of these guys hope to become the third freshman listed on the Naismith Trophy, joining Kevin Durant (2007) and Anthony Davis (2012).
On the flip side, Mason was the fourth consecutive senior to win the award last year, following Doug McDermott, Frank Kaminsky and Buddy Hield. There are 21 seniors on the above list of 50. A few names that stand out: Duke’s Grayson Allen, North Carolina’s Joel Berry, and Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson.
The field will be trimmed to 30 players in mid-February, semifinalists in early March, and four finalists during the NCAA tournament. The award will then be presented at the Naismith Awards banquet during the Final Four. The players hope to join past winners such as Lew Alcindor (1969), Pete Maravich (1970), Bill Walton (1972-74), Larry Bird (1979), Ralph Sampson (1981-83), Michael Jordan (1984) and Danny Manning (1988).
OFFICIAL RELEASE: The Citizen Naismith Trophy Watch List Released
Joe Boozell has been a college basketball writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FOXSports.com and NBA.com. Joe’s claim to fame since joining NCAA.com: he’s predicted the correct national championship game twice… and picked the wrong winner both times. Growing up, Joe squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene. You can imagine how that went.