I just finished watching Texas survive a real scare at home against Texas A&M and one thing is very clear to me: If this weren't the year of John Wall, Damion James would be at the top of the player of the year ballots, with Ohio State's Evan Turner not far behind him.
The Texas senior, who decided not to jump to the NBA a year early, has been the best player for the No. 1 Longhorns but was at his best against the Aggies. James scored 26 points and hauled in 12 rebounds, but it was the timing of his actions that spoke volumes. James scored all but three of his points in the second half and overtime, including a dagger 3-pointer with 1 minute remaining in overtime. He then came back to block B.J. Holmes' 3-point attempt to seal the victory for the Longhorns.
Texas is a ridiculously talented and deep team, so to be able to stand out as James has done all season says something about just how valuable a player he is.
What makes James even more enjoyable is his personality. He knows this is a special season and he's relishing every moment, unafraid to subtly sing his team's praises even when another team in the Big 12 (Kansas) stood atop the rankings.
It would probably take a freak act of nature to wrest the Player of the Year hardware from John Wall but if, like a tainted Miss America, for any reason Wall is unable to fulfill his duties, I'm thinking James would be a suitable runner-up.