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HomeBasketballNCAA BasketballWho has been men's college basketball's best this season?

Who has been men’s college basketball’s best this season?

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This college basketball season has seen a handful of teams remain at the top of the rankings.

There’s a clear-cut top tier of teams in D-I men’s college basketball: Purdue, UCONN, and Houston. The second tier includes teams like Tennessee, North Carolina and Arizona.

Players, and coaches, on all those teams stood out above just about everyone else in college basketball. You’ll see that as we hand out some awards.

Following is a look at who we’ve chosen for some of the major college basketball awards.

National Player of the Year
Zach Edey, Purdue Center
Edey should become the first player since Ralph Sampson to win back-to-back National Player of the Year awards. The senior center is the…center of the university in West Lafayette, Indiana. Edey this season is averaging career highs in points and blocks, while also pulling down nearly 12 rebounds per game. Edey, the nation’s leading scorer, this season has scored at least 25 points in 17 games. He’s got 22 double-doubles this season and recorded a 30-20 game in a 17-point Jan. 13 win over Penn State. There’s only one thing missing from Edey’s resume at this point. Can he be the one to lead Purdue to its first Final Four since 1980?

National Coach of the Year
Kelvin Sampson, Houston
Sampson led Houston to the Big 12 title in the team’s first year in the conference. The Cougars’ coach has already won Big 12 Coach of the Year, giving him nine conference coach of the year awards in five different leagues. Houston this season has not been ranked lower than No. 7 in the Associated Press Poll. The Cougars once again are one of the best defensive teams in the country. At 68, Sampson is easily one of the 10 best coaches in the country. And he’s been the best this season.

National Freshman of the Year
Reed Sheppard, Kentucky
I don’t think Sheppard should be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. He should go pretty high, though. Sheppard, who grew up about an hour south of Lexington in London, Kentucky, has been great for the Wildcats. Sheppard stood out in Kentucky’s March 9 win at Tennessee. The shooting that will make him a high pick was on full display, as the freshman went 7/10 from 3. His versatility shone through in pulling down 6 rebounds and handing out 5 assists. The win pushed Kentucky to the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament. Sheppard on the season is averaging 12.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Sheppard, son of former Kentucky standout and two-time national champ Jeff Sheppard, has also shown a knack for playing passing lanes with his 2.5 steals a game. Reed Sheppard is one of the players who should become a star this month.

Best Transfer Player
Dalton Knecht, Tennessee
If not for Knecht, Sheppard would have been the star of the great March 9 Tennessee/Kentucky game. Knecht in a loss dropped 40 on the Wildcats — a season high. The 6-foot-6, 197-pound guard has been a revelation for Rick Barnes’ team. Knecht, a transfer from Northern Colorado, is putting up 21.4 points per game so far this season and shooting better than 40% from 3. Knecht’s scoring outbursts have been plentiful. He’s topped 20 points 16 times. He’s eclipsed 25 points 11 times, including six straight games over a stretch in January. Knecht has played himself into the top 10 of the 2024 NBA Draft. Can he lead Tennessee to the Final Four

All-America Teams
First Team
Dalton Knecht, Tennessee Guard
Tristen Newton, UCONN Guard
RJ Davis, North Carolina Guard
Jamal Shead, Houston Guard
Zach Edey, Purdue Center

Second Team
Tyler Kolek, Marquette Guard
Antonio Reeves, Kentucky Guard
Baylor Scheierman, Creighton Guard
Mark Sears, Alabama Guard
DaRon Holmes II, Dayton Forward

Third Team
Caleb Love, Arizona Guard
Cam Spencer, UCONN Guard
Terrance Shannon Jr., Illinois Guard
Kyle Filipowski, Duke Center
Hunter Dickinson, Kansas Center

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