There isn’t a great track record for future success for Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year award winners.
Neither Frank Mason III (2017), Buddy Heild (2016), Frank Kaminsky (2015), Doug McDermott (2014) or Trey Burke (2013) have had much success in the NBA and none of them won National Championships.
But that doesn’t mean Villanova’s Jalen Brunson cant buck the trend. Afterall, Anthony Davis, the 2012 winner of the Naismith Award, is vying for an NBA MVP award this year in New Orleans. Davis also won a National Championship with Kentucky — a task Brunson and the No. 2 Wildcats are looking to achieve.
Brunson, who is netting 19.0 points per game, 3.0 rebounds per game, 4.8 assists marks, won USA Today’s award for player of the year earlier this week and has been among the best players in the game all season long. His stats may not jump off the page but his play certainly does — fighting teammate Makel Bridges for best player on the (second) best team honors.
The Villanova offense runs through Brunson, who rarely turns the ball over, makes smart shot selections and plays tough defense. He has a lot of history propelling him forward this season as Villanova looks to win another title to go with Brunson’s 2016 ring.
Brunson’s father Rick played for Temple. Beyond his family basketball petagree, he also wants to win his own National Champonship, as the then freshman was on the bench when Kris Jenkins hit his legendary game-winner against UNC.
“I think every player who truly loves basketball wants to be in the game at all times,” Brunson told USA Today.
Also contending for the player of the year award are Buke’s Marvin Bagley III (20.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg), Arizona’s Deandre Ayton (19.9 ppg, 11.4 rpg) and Oklahoma’s high-scoring Trae Young (27.5 ppg, 8.9 apg).
According to Vegas oddsmakers, Brunson is the favorite with 5-2 odds over the other aformentioned star players.