Last season, Villanova wing Josh Hart was the Big East’s sixth man of the year and the conference tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Hart carried that momentum into this season, taking advantage of the departure of core seniors Darrun Hilliard and JayVaughn Pinkston to become the Wildcats’ most valuable player.
Hart is playing about six more minutes per game than he was a year ago, and he’s using that extra time on the floor to average career-highs with 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds a game. He takes the fifth-highest percentage of his team’s shots and is the sixth-most efficient offensive player in the Big East.
Hart was my guest this week on Wooden Watch, where he talked about his transition from sixth man to star, the Wildcats’ chances to make a run in March and how much different this presidential election will be for him than the last one was, when he shared his high school’s hallways with President Barack Obama’s daughter Malia.
Below are my top 10 player of the year candidates:
1. Buddy Hield, senior guard, Oklahoma — 25.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
2. Kris Dunn, junior guard, Providence — 16.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 7.1 apg
3. Jarrod Uthoff, senior forward, Iowa — 18.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.0 bpg
4. Denzel Valentine, senior guard, Michigan State — 18.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 6.6 apg
5. Georges Niang, senior forward, Iowa State — 19.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.2 apg
6. Ben Simmons, freshman forward, LSU — 19.8 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 4.9 apg
7. Brice Johnson, senior forward, North Carolina — 16.8 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.3 bpg
8. Josh Hart
9. Melo Trimble, sophomore guard, Maryland — 14.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.6 apg
10. Grayson Allen, sophomore guard, Duke — 20.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.7 apg