A year ago, we put together an esteemed panel and periodically checked in with them to get their votes on the Player of the Year race. But let’s face it: Zion Williamson locked the award up by the time league play had begun.
This year I wasn’t planning on doing it again, but it’s so wide-open that I wanted to see if everyone else felt the same way. I kept the same core voting panel and added a couple newcomers for the first National Player of the Year poll of 2020.
First, here is the 11-member voting panel:
Jeff Borzello, ESPN.com
Rob Dauster, NBC Sports
Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
LaPhonso Ellis, ESPN
Jeff Goodman, Stadium
Doug Gottlieb, Fox Sports
Andy Katz, NCAA.com/Fox Sports/BTN
Clark Kellogg, CBS Sports
Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com
Dana O’Neil, The Athletic
Mark Titus, Man Formerly at The Ringer
1) Obi Toppin, 6-9, 220, PF, RS Soph., Dayton – 89 points (1 first place vote)
He was an academic redshirt his freshman season, started to come into his own last season and has become the primary reason for the Flyers’ success this year. Toppin is a big, strong, athletic forward whose skill level continues to improve.
Stats: 19.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.3 bpg, 36% 3-pointers
2) Payton Pritchard, 6-2, 190, G, Sr., Oregon – 88 points (4 first place votes)
The Ducks floor leader does it all for Dana Altman: He scores, runs the team and makes big shots. Pritchard’s game has expanded and he’s become one of the best players in the country.
Stats: 18.7 ppg, 5.9 apg, 4.4 rpg, 39% 3-pointers
3) Vernon Carey Jr., 6-10, 270, C, Fr., Duke – 72 points (1 first place vote)
He was always in the equation as the No. 1 recruit in the country, but people started to have questions because he’s a big, strong post player and those guys don’t seem to have as much value anymore. But Carey has been a beast for the Blue Devils — and his skill level is better than most realize.
Stats: 18.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 2.1 bpg
4) Markus Howard, 5-11, 180, G, Sr., Marquette – 49 points
The nation’s leading scorer, Howard can erupt for 40 on any given night. He’s shooting 45 percent from deep even though every single defense is keyed on stopping him.
Stats: 25.8 ppg, 3.1 apg, 3.1 rpg, 45% 3-pointers
5) Myles Powell, 6-2, 195, G, Sr., Seton Hall – 47 points (2 first place votes)
Powell missed some time and has played at less than 100 percent this season, but has still been plenty productive. He’s an explosive and elite-level scorer who had 27 recently in a win at DePaul.
Stats: 21.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 36% 3-pointers
6) Jordan Nwora, 6-7, 225, F, Jr., Louisville – 40 points
Nwora struggled in the Cards’ two losses against Texas Tech and Kentucky (6-of-26 from the field), but has still been Chris Mack’s best player. The skilled forward went for 32 and 10 in a loss to Florida State.
Stats: 21.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 43% 3-pointers
7) Luka Garza, 6-11, 260, C, Jr., Iowa – 37 points (1 first place vote)
The big man has made a huge jump from last season, nearly doubling his production. He’s been a monster in the paint and on the glass and his signature moment was when he went for 44 points against Michigan. Garza ranks in the top 10 nationally in scoring and in the top 20 in rebounding.
Stats: 22.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg
8) Cassius Winston, 6-1. 185, PG, Sr., Michigan State – 36 points
Winston started slow, playing with a heavy heart after the death of his younger brother, but he has since looked like the guy most picked as the Preseason Player of the Year, going for 32 in a win over Michigan and scoring at least 21 points in four consecutive games.
Stats: 18.9 ppg, 6.3 apg, 38% 3-pointers
9) Devon Dotson, 6-2, 185, PG, Soph., Kansas – 30 points (1 first place vote)
Dotson has made a jump from a year ago, but has also struggled in the Jayhawks’ two losses — the season-opener to Duke and a road setback against Villanova. Dotson remains one of the best point guards in America, but will need to show it when it matters most.
Stats: 18.5 ppg, 4.4 apg, 3.9 rpg, 2.4 apg
10) Malachi Flynn, 6-1, 185, PG, Jr., San Diego State – 20 points (1 first place vote)
The Washington State transfer has wasted little time making an impact for the Aztecs. He can score from all three levels, and he’s also been terrific running the team and taking care of the ball, ranking seventh nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Stats: 15.9 ppg, 5.1 apg, 3.5 rpg, 43% 3-pointers
11) Kaleb Wesson, 6-9, 270, C, Jr., Ohio State – 17 points
The Buckeyes’ big man has completely transformed his body and his game this season after shedding weight in the offseason. Wesson now has the ability to step out and make shots and is much-improved on the defensive end.
Stats: 14.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 44% 3-pointers
12) Isaiah Stewart, 6-9, 250, C, Fr., Washington – 14 points
He’s a hard-playing, physical big man who has been dominant for the Huskies. Stewart has eight double-doubles in 15 games thus far.
Stats: 19.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.9 bpg
13) Filip Petrusev, 6-11, 235, PF, Soph., Gonzaga – 12 points
Someone from the No. 1 team in the country needs to be on the list, and it’s the skilled Serbian. He’s been incredibly consistent for Mark Few and has emerged as Gonzaga’s best player.
Stats: 16.6 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.3 bpg
14) Udoka Azubuike, 7-0, 265, C, Sr., Kansas – 9 points
Big Doke isn’t quite so big this year, but he’s still a dominant force in the post. He’s making 81 percent of his shots, he rebounds at a high level and has improved on the defensive end with the slimmer frame. Azubuike had 17 points and 11 boards in a win over West Virginia this past weekend.
Stats: 13.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 81% FG
15) Yoeli Childs, 6-8, 225, PF, Sr., BYU – 8 points
He’s only played seven games due to an NCAA suspension that kept him off the court to start the season, but Childs has been a beast since he’s become eligible. He had 20 points and 10 boards in a win over Utah State and 29 points and seven rebounds in his first game back against Utah.
Stats: 20.9 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg
16) Tre Jones, 6-3, 185, PG, Soph., Duke – 7 points
He missed a couple games with a foot injury, but Jones is back and while he’s not a big-time shooter, he’s become more of a scoring threat, is a lock-down defender and also one of the better distributors in the country.
Stats: 14.2 ppg, 7.2 apg, 3.8 rpg, 2.0 spg
T17) Anthony Edwards, 6-5, 225, SG, Fr., Georgia – 6 points
The in-state product chose the Bulldogs over blue bloods, and the big, strong and athletic guard has been as good as advertised: He’s able to get to the basket and finish, is able to make shots from deep and also is an adept passer.
Stats: 18.4 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.8 spg
T17) Samir Doughty, 6-4, 195, G, Sr., Auburn – 6 points
The Tigers are one of two remaining undefeated teams, and the VCU transfer is a major reason for the success. He’s the team’s leading scorer, but is also effective on the defensive end.
Stats: 16.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.6 spg
19) Tres Tinkle, 6-7, 225, F, Sr., Oregon State – 5 points
The versatile forward has stuffed the stat sheet like no one else in the country. He scores, rebounds, distributes and can really shoot it. He averaged 22.5 points, 10.5 boards and 4.5 assists in games against Oklahoma and Iowa State.
Stats: 19.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.9 apg, 45% 3-pointers
20) Marcus Zegarowski, 6-2, 180, PG, Soph., Creighton – 4 points
He’s always been overlooked, but the brother of NBA point guard Michael Carter-Williams just does it all: He makes his teammates better, he scores from deep and also thrives in transition.
Stats: 18.1 ppg, 4.7 apg, 4.1 rpg, 39% 3-pointers
OTHERS RECEIVING VOTES: Lamar Stevens, Penn State (3); Ashton Hagans, Kentucky (2), Kamar Baldwin, Butler (2); Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State (1); Cory Kispert, Gonzaga (1)