9. Looking at some early breakout players and NPOY contenders
It’s still far too early to make accurate predictions about potential champions or award winners, but it’s not too early to take note of some impressive performances early in the season. We’ll be spending a moment to take a look at a few players who have really stood out to this point, though our eyes were certainly opened to them far before this week.
Purdue center Zach Edey entered the season as a major piece for the Boilermakers but has been a staple in their rise in the Top 5 teams in the nation. He’s averaging 21.7 points and 12.0 rebounds a game and just turned in a magnificent performance at the Phil Knight Legacy. He scored 23 points in a win over Gonzaga and had 21 points two days later against Duke, keying Purdue’s dominance this season. He’s certainly one of the heavy favorites early for Player of the Year.
Kansas forward Jalen Wilson is another player having a breakout season, averaging 22.8 points per game for the Jayhawks. He had a 29-point, 14-rebound effort in that overtime win against Wisconsin and has already had four double-doubles this season.
Another player keying a team breaking out is Connecticut forward Adama Sanogo, who is averaging 18.5 points and 7.0 rebounds for the 8-0 Huskies. Sanogo had 25 points in the Huskies’ win over Alabama during the Phil Knight Invitational.
Finally, the play of Arizona has been outstanding early and Azuolas Tubelis is a big part of that success. The talented big man is averaging 19.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game for the Wildcats, including a 30-point, 11-rebound game against Cincinnati en route to the Maui Invitational championship two days later. It certainly does seem like this is the year of the big in college basketball.