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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Mike DeCourcy - Chris Lofton Takes Early POY Lead (CDR #10)


Lofton takes early Player of the Year lead

By Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Posted October 8, 2007

Raise your hand if you knew last October that Kevin Durant would win every single trophy for player of the year at the close of the 2006-07 season.

Is that you, Ms. Pratt? Wanda Pratt?

You don't count. You're Kevin's mom.

The rest of us, not related to Kevin, knew he'd be a terrific college basketball player but had no idea he would storm through the winter averaging 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds. We thought Greg Oden might be a P-O-Y candidate -- at least we did before he injured his wrist. But Durant's dominance was a stunner. We will not be caught off-guard this time.

Now we know what the talent difference between the best freshmen and the best veterans can mean on the court, that it is possible to overcome the difference in experience. So we're on high alert looking for the next Durant or Oden. We mixed them into the list of the top players at each position last week, mostly to a chorus of "those freshmen haven't done anything yet." Indeed, but once the season starts, many/most of them will do plenty.

And one or more will challenge the vets for the trophies that bear the names of Oscar Robertson, John Wooden, James Naismith and Adolph Rupp.

1. Chris Lofton, Tennessee. Lofton will average 20-plus points, will challenge the top of the NCAA career 3-point shooting charts and will be a significant factor in a successful Vols season. Until further notice, he's your clubhouse leader.

2. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina. He's going to be a first-team All-American. He won't allow himself not to be. But will he be the kind of dominant guy who wins awards like this?

3. Kevin Love, UCLA. I rated him as a second-team All-American in the Sporting News College Basketball yearbook and as the No. 4 center in the position rankings at SportingNews.com. However, if he has the kind of year he is capable of having and the Bruins are as good as I think -- and if nobody else puts up Durant/Morrison/Redick numbers -- it's possible he could be your guy.

4. Roy Hibbert, Georgetown. Play every game like last year's Big East title game against Pitt, and all the trophies are yours, Roy.

5. Drew Neitzel, Michigan State. The media love him. From October to March, you'll see nearly as many pictures of him as Lindsay Lohan.

6. Eric Gordon, Indiana. He'll put up some sweet scoring numbers, but if IU wins he's going to split votes with teammate D.J. White.

7. Darrell Arthur, Kansas. If his teammates get him the ball, he'll get them to the Final Four. Finally.

8. Mike Beasley, Kansas State. His coach already has compared his likely impact what Durant achieved. Fair enough.

9. O.J. Mayo, Southern California. Try to ignore him. It's hard to do.

10. Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis. Is he too much of a team player to win individual honors? Not if his team is as good as projected.

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