Being known as one of the best players in the country is one of the highest honor a basketball player can have. Some, however, do not receive the recognition in the National Player of the Year race because they play at smaller schools; the mid-majors. There are a number of talented players in the mid-major ranks and this is where we will examine who has a chance to win the Mid-Major Player of the Year award.
This award is better known as the Lou Henson Award, which is awarded to the top mid-major player in the country at the end of the year. CollegeInsider.com will announce the winner at the end of the season, but it’s never too early to start looking at the players with the best chance of walking away with the honor.
Here are the Mid-Major Player of the Year rankings:
- Doug McDermott - Creighton Blue Jays (24.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 52 percent 3-pointers)
Entering the season as a potential National Player of the Year and All-American, Dough McDermott came into the 2012-13 campaign with enormous hype. So far he has yet to disappoint.
McDermott’s 24.1 point per game average ranks second in the nation behind Virginia Tech’s Erick Green by only one-half point. Doug also owns the third-best three point field goal percentage in the country, only four percent behind the nation’s leader.
If those stats weren’t enough, McDermott and the Blue Jays are having another sensational year with only two losses on the season (a stunning home loss to a surging Boise State team and on the road to Wichita State this past weekend).
Dough McDermott is clearly the frontrunner for Mid-Major Player of the Year right now and, ultimately, he will be the one who decides whether he can walk away with the award or not.
- Isaiah Canaan, Murray State Racers (21.5 points, 4.3 assists, 41 percent 3-pointers)
Murray State may not be having the incredible year that they did last season, but Isaiah Canaan is making the Racers relevant again. As it currently stands, Canaan and co. are holding strong to the second spot in the Ohio Valley, with Belmont not far from their reach.
Canaan has held down the fort for the Racers with his 21 points per game, helping to “race” the Murray State offense to the 49th best points per game average in the country (73.8). Doesn’t sound incredible, but considering that Canaan could have easily gone to the NBA after last season, Murray State would be a complete mess without his production.
However, it’s make-or-break time for the Racers as their February 7 matchup with Belmont could determine just how far Canaan can carry this team. A loss could mean Isaiah drops off the list completely with little hope of reaching the NCAA Tournament in March.
- Nate Wolters, South Dakota State (20.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists)
Nate Wolters has helped keep the Jackrabbits in line for a repeat trip to the NCAA Tournament with his stellar play. But his most impressive game came with SDSU’s only win against a ranked opponent in school history.
Winning against New Mexico is never easy, but considering the circumstances (a two day bus ride from Tennessee to New Mexico, rehabbing an injured ankle, the threat of being benched with another poor performance) Wolters posted a 28-point effort in knocking down the then-ranked (16) Lobos in The Pit. That win brought the attention back to Wolters, who had lost a little luster after missing the highly anticipated game at Minnesota.
The Jacks will go as far as Wolters can take them and having nearly identical numbers to last season is a good start. Summit League play will show how determined Wolters and co. are to not be just another miracle story only to be forgotten the next season.
- Mike Muscala, Bucknell (20.1 points, 11.2 rebounds)
With C.J. McCollum out of action for Lehigh, the Patriot League is Bucknell’s for the taking and are led by the physical post presence of Mike Muscala.
Averaging a double-double every game certainly helps a team win, which the Bison have been doing at a dramatic rate this season. With only three road, non-conferences losses on Bucknell’s record right now, they are primed to take over the Patriot League with the absence of McCollum.
Not only can Muscala dominate the paint, he’s also a threat to shoot from long range, a great quality for a big man in today’s style of basketball. The inside-out threat makes Muscala a dangerous player, creating a matchup nightmare for the opposition. He may not win the award, but he is certainly in the discussion, as he should be.
That's this week's Mid-Major POY power rankings. Check back next week for an updated, expanded list.