SEC: Dalton Knecht (Tennessee)
Current Averages: 20.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists
It is no secret to anyone who has watched Knecht play how big of an asset his offense is. He is score first and does the rest of the things later and that is exactly how head coach Rick Barnes wants him to play on that side of the ball. Knecht is also one of the premier scorers in the game and was during his time at Northern Colorado as well. The guard is shooting 50% from the floor, 40% from three, and almost 80% from deep. He is on a string of scoring over 30 points in 4 out of the last 5 games and the Vols have been looking for an offensive player of this caliber for quite some time. Coaches are still figuring out the best way to guard Knecht this late into the season and he seems to be getting better as the season goes on. There is no one better in the league than the Senior guard from Tennessee.
Southern Conference: Vonterius Woolbright (Western Carolina)
Current Averages: 22.2 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists
This race is over, and it has been for quite some time. Woolbright has already won the league player of the week 7 times and has been awarded as the player of the week nationally quite a few times as well. The 6’6” guard is fourth overall in the country in scoring and is second in rebounding behind Enrique Freeman from Akron. He has more rebounds per game average than Zach Edey and the points per game are equal to Edey. Woolbright would be my vote for National Player of the Year because of his ability to pass. He is a walking triple-double as he has already had two but has been a near miss on a few more. There is not a player other than Zach Edey who dominates a game like Woolbright does. He should get second place in the voting for the Wooden Award, but he won’t because he doesn’t play for a power school.
Southland: Shahada Wells (McNeese)
Current Averages: 18.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists
Will Wade is a magician, and he has proven he can win anywhere. The McNeese Cowboys are currently undefeated in the Southland and likely won’t lose a game in the league. McNeese also has the two best players in the league, but Wells is the winner of the award because of his ability to carry the Cowboys on most nights. Wells shoots almost 50% from the floor and over 40% from deep.
He also facilitates the offense, anchors the defense, and rarely turns the ball over. The point guard is currently sporting a 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. There are no teams close to McNeese in the Southland standings and there is no one close to the talent level of Wells in the league. He wins the award going away.