Scheyer or Vasquez? Reynolds or Harangody? And can John Wall be a national player of the year candidate without being the MVP of his own league?
Those are some of the most difficult questions I tackled in ranking the three leading contenders for player of the year in each of the power six conferences with just a few weeks left in the regular season.
If you're a Duke, Villanova or Kentucky fan, you'll probably agree with the choices I made. If you're a Maryland, Notre Dame or South Carolina fan, I look forward to your, uh, constructive criticism.
1. Jon Scheyer, G, Duke
2. Malcolm Delaney, G, Virginia Tech
3. Greivis Vasquez, G, Maryland
Comments: Has any ACC player elevated his game this season more than Scheyer? The Duke senior has scored 20 or more points in six of his last eight games, upping his averages to 19.7 points and 5.4 assists and 41 percent 3-point shooting. The field is deep behind Scheyer should he falter. I went with Delaney over Vasquez and Virginia's Sylven Landesberg for second because he leads the conference in scoring at 20.7 points per game and has propelled surprising Virginia Tech to second place. Also don't sleep on Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu, the only player in the league averaging a double-double at 16.5 points and 10.9 rebounds.
1. Scottie Reynolds, G, Villanova
2. Luke Harangody, F, Notre Dame
3. Dominique Jones, G, South Florida
Comments: Harangody's 24.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game are ridiculous, but nobody's come up bigger in crucial situations than Reynolds. In addition to scoring 19 points per game, he put up 23 at Marquette, 27 against Georgetown and 19 in the second half alone at West Virginia. Jones earned my third-place vote over Syracuse's Wes Johnson because the South Florida star has scored as well as anyone in the nation for the past month, whereas Johnson's production has faded a bit after a sizzling start. Marquette's Lazar Hayward (18.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg) also deserves mention for helping his team exceed expectations.
1. Evan Turner, F, Ohio State
2. Kalin Lucas, G, Michigan State
3. Demetri McCamey, G, Illinois
Comments: One glance at the Big Ten individual leaders confirms just how good Turner has been this season. He's second in scoring (19.0), first in rebounding (9.4), second in assists (5.8) and third in steals (1.9). Nobody else has really distinguished themselves as a true challenger to Turner, so I went with Lucas second because we saw tangible proof of how lost Michigan State looked without him earlier this month. McCamey beat out Purdue's E'Twaun Moore, Wisconsin's Trevon Hughes and Northwestern's John Shurna for third because he leads the Big Ten with 6.5 assists per game to go with 15.6 points.
1. Sherron Collins, G, Kansas
2. James Anderson, G, Oklahoma State
3. Donald Sloan, G, Texas A&M
Comments: His stats aren't as gaudy as the other leading candidates, but Collins is not only the best player on the league's dominant team but also the guy with the ball in his hands down the stretch. On a team loaded with scoring options, he's averaging 15.6 points and 4.3 assists. Anderson gets second because his conference-leading 22.6 points per game have kept Oklahoma State competitive despite little help. Differentiating between Sloan, Kansas State's Jacob Pullen and Texas' Damion James is difficult, but I'll give third to the Texas A&M star because he has carried an Aggies team left for dead after its leading scorer broke his leg months ago
1. Jerome Randle, G, Cal
2. Quincy Pondexter, F, Washington
3. Landry Fields, F, Stanford
Comments: Randle may have overtaken Pondexter in this race last Thursday when he scored 33 points to help Cal take control of the conference with a convincing victory over Washington. Both are in the top four in the Pac-10 in scoring, with Pondexter third in rebounding and Randle third in assists. Fields edges Washington State's Klay Thompson for third in my ballot because in addition to scoring 20-plus points for Stanford, he also averages 8.7 rebounds per game and guards the opponent's top scoring wing or forward.
1. John Wall, G, Kentucky
2. Devan Downey, G, South Carolina
3. DeMarcus Cousins, F, Kentucky
Comments: You could see a scenario where Wall wins national player of the year but gets beat out for conference honors. That's how good Cousins and Downey have been. Downey leads the conference at 22.8 points and 2.9 steals per game, while Cousins is a force on the glass and a double-double machine for Kentucky. But nonetheless, the guy who's among the SEC's top five in scoring (17 ppg), assists (6.42) and steals (1.88) is Wall, who as just a freshman is Kentucky's leader.