The player of the year race is actually shaping up to be quite interesting. There's Evan Turner, who, when not limited by a brutal back injury, has been destroying all in his path with one triple-double after the next. There's Damion James, whose stats and leadership of Texas will earn him consideration. There's Wesley Johnson, whose surge into the elite has turned Syracuse from a rebuilding project into a possible Final Four team. And of course there's John Wall, who, well, you don't need me to tell you Wall is. My mom knows who Wall is, and my mom doesn't even read this blog.
But who will actually win? Michael Rothstein of AnnArbor.com polled 45 college basketball media types -- the same that also serve on the Wooden and Naismith Award panels, to be exact -- to reveal their player of the year votes if the voting ended today. Early returns favor -- who else -- Wall.
The freshman tops the list with 32 of a possible 45 first-place votes. James is second with Turner at third. That is all defensible -- Wall has been a revelation in his first and only season in Kentucky and James is a beast, the best player on a shockingly deep Texas team. But if I had a vote in this process, my vote would probably go to Turner. Perhaps you can penalize Turner for the injury, but that doesn't seem fair. The dude broke his back and is already back on the court. And when he gets on that court, look out. Turner is averaging 18.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1 block per game. He is a statistical monster, the kind of night-in-night-out sure thing that will have fantasy basketball owners licking their lips next fall.
If you want to look at the player of the year in an MVP-race type of thing, you have to consider which player is most important to their team's chances. Wall? James? Or Turner? Maybe that's an unfair question, since we've seen how badly OSU needs Turner on the floor and haven't had that chance with Wall and James, but don't you think Texas and Kentucky would still be elite teams without their best players? I'd lean toward yes in both cases.
Anyway, there's plenty of season left and no reason to get too worked up over player of the year honors quite yet. In the meantime, though, voters owe Turner a legitimate shot at what appears to be Wall's crown. Turner is that good.