- Duke freshman Vernon Carey Jr. is the slight favorite to win the AP’s College Basketball Player of the Year
- Michigan State senior Cassius Winston (+400) is starting to heat up after suffering an early-season tragedy
- Louisville forward Jordan Nwora (+650) struggled in a recent matchup with rival Kansas
Zion Williamson was a near-unanimous choice (59 of 64 votes) for the Associated Press Player of the Year in 2018-19.
But at the midway mark of the 2019-20 season, the field is considerably more crowded. Let’s check the latest odds at BetOnline and determine what players we should keep an eye on in the second half.
2019-20 AP NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR ODDS
|Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke)||+350|
|Cassius Winston (Michigan State)||+400|
|Jordan Nwora (Louisville)||+650|
|Obi Toppin (Dayton)||+700|
|Devon Dotson (Kansas)||+900|
|Markus Howard (Marquette)||+900|
|Peyton Pritchard (Oregon)||+900|
|Kaleb Wesson (Ohio State)||+1000|
|Myles Powell (Seton Hall)||+1000|
|Filip Petrusev (Gonzaga)||+1200|
|Luka Garza (Iowa)||+1200|
|Malachi Flynn (San Diego State)||+1200|
THE FAVORITE: VERNON CAREY JR.
With 7-foot-1 center James Wiseman out of college basketball, the NCAA’s best big-man is Duke freshman Vernon Carey Jr.
The 6-foot-10 son of a former Miami Hurricanes offensive lineman torched his dad’s alma mater on Saturday with a game-high 24 points in a 95-62 win.
No. 2 Duke throttles Miami 95-62 behind Vernon Carey Jr’s 24-point performance https://t.co/YNKmxxyWKk pic.twitter.com/pgA7NpF0fQ
— Coach Billy Carson (@CoachCarson) January 5, 2020
Looking like a future top-five pick, Carey Jr. is averaging 18.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks through his first 14 games while shooting over 62 per cent from the field.
With the No. 2 Blue Devils ranked second in the latest AP poll, Carey Jr. will only get more national media exposure as the season wears on. He may not have the perimeter game to dominate in the modern NBA, but he’s simply too big and too strong for most fives at the college level.
COMING ON STRONG: CASSIUS WINSTON
Cassius Winston’s decision to return to Michigan State for his senior season vaulted the Spartans to No. 1 in everybody’s preseason rankings.
However, Tom Izzo’s club disappointed early in the season and Winston tragically lost his younger brother Zachary to suicide about six weeks ago.
Michigan State basketball’s Cassius Winston named Naismith player of the week https://t.co/vBPZfefFoc pic.twitter.com/nRyOJBt16m
— Sparty Fans (@SpartyFans) January 6, 2020
The 6-foot-1 point guard has courageously played through the pain, averaging 18.9 points and 6.3 assists through 14 games. He also poured in a career-high 32 points against No. 19 Michigan on Sunday.
It’s impossible not to root for Winston given the circumstances, and voters are likely to feel the same way if the No. 8 Spartans can play their way back into the national title conversation.
Jordan Nwora (+650) is averaging a career-high 21 points in his junior season, but the Louisville forward struggled in a spotlight game against rival Kentucky before the New Year, going 2-of-10 from the field with three turnovers in a 78-70 overtime-loss.
The Athletic named Obi Toppin (+700) their midseason national player of the year. The Dayton Flyers’ dunking machine has put up 19.5 points per game while shooting 62.7 percent from the field.
GOOD LORD Obi Toppin pic.twitter.com/YGkoy5QL46
— Fredi (@ManfrediNick) December 31, 2019
Duke sophomore guard Tre Jones is putting up 14.2 and 7.2 assists per game, but is not listed on the board above (perhaps due to missing two games with a sprained ankle).
Some other notable omissions include Udoka Azubuike, whose 17 points and 11 boards led No. 3 Kansas to a 60-53 win over No. 16 West Virginia on Saturday, and Penn State’s Lamar Stevens.
Averaging 16.4 points and 7.0 rebounds, the senior forward is helping put the 12-2 Nittany Lions on the college basketball map.
Pick: Cassius Winston (+400)