Every now and then, I catch an announcer or some list on the web anointing either Kevin Love or Tyler Hansbrough as THE Player of the Year. No. That's just completely wrong.
Michael Beasley of Kansas State is Player of the Year - clear as day. Not only is he leading the race, he's running ahead like Secretariat.
It seemed to me that last year, Kevin Durant was the consensus POY. Why? Not because Texas was the best NCAA team, as Rivals.com's Andrew Skwara says, but because of his numbers and how otherworldly they were. The guy was the only player both in the top-10 in scoring and rebounding. Add that to a couple big-game performances, Durant basically had the award wrapped up by February.
Now here's the confusing part: Beasley is doing it again this year, but he still seems to be flying under the radar.
I suppose any player that goes to Kansas State is bound to fly under the radar, but Beasley is single-handedly making that team relevant. He averages a ridiculous 25.2 ppg and 12.3 rpg. The rest of the starters average only 40.2 ppg and 15.1 rpg. B-Easy also leads the team in steals and blocked shots. How else do you explain that Kansas State is now ranked No. 18 and beat then-No. 2 Kansas under a first year coach when last year, they choked on a 23-12 record and an NIT berth under Bob Huggins?
Also, about the "otherworldly" stats? Yeah, Beasley got those, too. Remember those averages in the paragraph above? Well they're good for No. 4 on the scoring list and No. 1 in rebounds per game in the whole country. You can't say that about Hansbrough, and you definitely can't say that about Love.
Some people say it's not all about stats, and that it's about team success. Ok, first of all, stats are a huge part about how a player impacts the game. But sure, UNC and UCLA are among the best teams in the nation. But you know what? They were among the best before Hanbrough and Love even got there. UNC won the championship the year before Hansbrough came to town and Roy Williams recruits tons of talent every single year. Beasley isn't surrounded by the likes of Lawson and Ellington. Same thing goes for Love - UCLA has been a two-time Final Four contender, and the credit goes to Ben Howland. He doesn't always have the biggest or most athletic players, but he finds ways to win, especially on defense.
Not that Psycho T and K-Love aren't good players, I've said as much before. But if they all played together in some kind of Collegiate All-Star game (that I'm making up but I wish could happen), I don't think you could have any doubt about who was the best player on the floor. Beasley has post game, he has really good shooting range (43% 3FG) and rebounds like no other - literally. Love and Hansbrough are very good post players and that's about it. They aren't really athletic and they can be outplayed by forwards and centers with better athletic ability (i.e., James Gist against UNC). Their NBA game is surrounded by question marks (way to stay in school, Tyler), while it's almost certain that Beasley will be a star. He has the body to ball in the pros (which Durant still doesn't really have), and, in the words of a friend of mine, "he can do just about anything he wants with a basketball."
This is just a public service announcement really, for the people that only pay attention to the top-5 teams. Just because someone is on a good team doesn't make them the best player in the country. Michael Beasley has shown that he's the only player in college basketball worthy of this distinction.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated, MichaelBeasley.org