Commentary

Plenty of good candidates for POY

Updated: August 17, 2012, 1:44 PM ET
By Dick Vitale

Doug McDermottMatt Ryerson/US PresswireDoug McDermott is the only returning player from last season's AP All-America first team.

While relaxing in Orlando, watching my grandsons play baseball in a tournament, I was thinking about the player of the year candidates for the upcoming college basketball season.

The race is pretty wide open. Last year, diaper dandy Anthony Davis was a dominant defensive performer as he walked away with most of the POY honors. This season, it is again possible for a freshman to come in and make some major noise.

Nerlens Noel of Kentucky and Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA come to mind. I don't like to pick diaper dandies as my preseason player of the year. I thought it was unfair for Harrison Barnes of North Carolina to be on the AP preseason All-America team before he ever played a game at Chapel Hill.

With that in mind, here are three leading possibilities going into the season.

Let's start at Indiana, where the Hoosiers are expected to be a legit national championship contender. I look for big things from sophomore Cody Zeller up front. He has the potential to be a double-double guy on one of the premier teams in the nation.

Down at Murray State, Isaiah Canaan decided to return to college for his senior season instead of taking the lure of the greenbacks from the NBA. The Racers, under Steve Prohm, skyrocketed into the national spotlight, and a key reason was the play of the talented guard. I look for another big season from Mr. Canaan.

At Creighton, 6-8 Doug McDermott had a super sophomore season, averaging just under 23 points and eight rebounds while shooting over 60 percent from the field. He led the Bluejays to a 29-6 record, and he should be in the picture for POY honors this season.

Yes, my friends, there will be a number of other players making noise in the college ranks, guys who were solid a year ago. When I think of the crème de la crème of the top 40 teams, will Louisville have a player step up and contend? Can C.J. Leslie of NC State end up in the mix? James Michael McAdoo of North Carolina has the potential to put together a big year. Will Trey Burke of Michigan have something to say?

I know it is the offseason, but it is fun to think ahead to the sport I love.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.