Let's Not Kid Ourselves, the Player of the Year Race is Over and Trae Young Won It


With all due respect to Villanova’s Jalen Brunson and every other college basketball player who’s having a really good year for a really good team, this is one of those years where the player-of-the-year race is so over, I don’t even need to tell you who is going to win it.

But I will.

It’s Trae Young.

But you knew that. Young leads college basketball in scoring (30.1 points per game) and assists (9.9 per game), and his team, Oklahoma (14-2), is ranked fourth.

There is not a whole lot else to be said about this. Nobody else in college basketball is averaging more than 25.8 points, and only one other player, Emmett Naar of St. Mary’s, is averaging more than 7.9 assists. No. 2 Virginia’s best player averages 15 points and two rebounds. No. 3 Purdue’s best guy averages 17 and four. No. 5 Duke’s Grayson Allen was a preseason favorite, but he isn’t even the Blue Devils’ leading scorer.

West Virginia, Wichita State and Texas Tech — the next three teams in the poll — have strong veteran leaders but no superstars. Same goes for Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Kansas’ Devonte Graham, strong players having good years — just nowhere near as good as Young.

After Young, the top scorer from a major conference is Marvin Bagley of Duke, who averages 22 points and 11 rebounds, and is the only threat to Young in this race. Bagley is shooting 61 percent from the field and just barely good enough from the 3-point line (33 percent) to justify continuing to take them.

But an argument for Bagley over Young would depend on the notion that Young’s scoring is gratuitous. And while he does lead the country in usage rate, he also leads it in efficiency.

As a fan of basketball, it’s a bit of a downer to have this race be so dull, it’s just that Young’s numbers are overwhelming, and his team is as good as any in the country. Not even Kevin Durant’s numbers could touch these, and Durant was the best college basketball player I ever saw.

Runner-up could be a good race, though.