Note: This article was originally posted on November 10th.
The 2014-15 College Basketball season tips off on Friday (11/12) with a full slate of action, but there are still a number of significant questions marks as we enter the new year. As we’ve detailed throughout the offseason, Kentucky is the odds on favorite to win the National Championship with familiar faces like Duke, Arizona and Kansas nipping on their heels. However, the constant influx of “one and done” players has made the College Basketball landscape entirely unpredictable.
Schools like Kentucky have become revolving doors for one-year wonders like John Wall, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel and Julius Randle to showcase their talents before moving on to the NBA. With a new roster every year, team chemistry can often be an issue. Another major issue with this new phenomenon is the lofty projections for many of these youngsters.
Last season Kansas F Andrew Wiggins was expected to win the AP Player of the Year Award without ever having played in a College Basketball game. Although the athletic wing posted respectable numbers (17.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG), he was ultimately bested by Doug McDermott — a senior forward who averaged 26.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
The year before, incoming freshman included Shabazz Muhammad, Isaiah Austin and Kaleb Tarczewski who ranked as the nation’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th best recruits according to ESPN. None of these players even made their All-Conference first team.
Since 1960, there have been just two freshmen to win the AP Player of the Year Award: Kevin Durant (2006-07) and Anthony Davis (2011-12). This is particularly noteworthy because earlier this week the well-known sportsbook, Bovada, posted Player of the Year odds with Duke’s freshman F/C Jahlil Okafor listed as a +600 favorite. In fact, there are also a number of player props and Okafor’s projections are for 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
The table below compares the current Player of the Year odds at Bovada and BetOnline and will be updated throughout the season. The points, rebounds, assists and blocks per game are based on over/under prop bets that are also available at Bovada.
|Player||School||Bovada (1/10)||Bovada (1/7)||Bovada (1/6)||Bovada (11/12)||BetOnline (11/13)||Stats (O/U)|
|Jahlil Okafor||Duke||-250||+100||+150||+600||+600||16.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG|
|Frank Kaminsky||Wisconsin||+350||+400||+600||+1400||+1400||15.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG|
|Willie Cauley-Stein||Kentucky||+1000||+600||+450||+5000||+5000||10.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 3 BPG|
|Montrezl Harrell||Louisville||+1000||+800||+600||+700||+750||17 PPG, 10.5 RPG|
|Stanley Johnson||Arizona||+2000||+1400||+1000||+800||+750||14.5 PPG, 8 RPG|
|Juwan Staten||West Virginia||+2000||+1500||+1500||+3000||+3000||17.5 PPG, 5 RPG, 5.5 APG|
|Jerian Grant||Notre Dame||+2500||+2000||+1000||+5000||+3000||18 PPG, 6 APG|
|Malcolm Brogdon||Virgina||N/A||N/A||N/A||+5000||+5000||15.5 PPG|
|Caris LeVert||Michigan||N/A||N/A||N/A||+1600||+1600||17 PPG, 5.5 RPG|
|Marcus Paige||North Carolina||N/A||N/A||N/A||+1800||+1800||20.5 PPG, 4.5 APG|
|Kelly Oubre||Kansas||N/A||N/A||N/A||+1800||+2500||13.5 PPG, 6 RPG|
|Georges Niang||Iowa State||N/A||N/A||N/A||+3000||+3000||17 PPG, 4.5 RPG|
|Tyus Jones||Duke||N/A||N/A||N/A||+1400||+1400||10.5 PPG, 8 APG|
|Karl Towns||Kentucky||N/A||N/A||N/A||+1400||+1400||10.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG|
|Ron Baker||Wichita State||N/A||N/A||N/A||+3000||+3500||15.5 PPG|
|Fred VanVleet||Wichita State||N/A||N/A||N/A||+4000||+3500||12.5 PPG, 5.5 APG|
|Justise Winslow||Duke||N/A||N/A||N/A||+4000||+4000||8.5 PPG, 7 RPG|
|Chris Walker||Florida||N/A||N/A||N/A||+4000||+4000||12.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG|
|Aaron Harrison||Kentucky||N/A||N/A||N/A||+7500||+7500||14.5 PPG|
|Rasheed Sulaimon||Duke||N/A||N/A||N/A||+4000||+4000||14.5 PPG|
|Brandon Ashley||Arizona||N/A||N/A||N/A||+5000||+5000||13.5 PPG|
|Joe Young||Oregon||N/A||N/A||N/A||+5000||+5000||20.5 PPG|
|Sam Dekker||Wisconsin||N/A||N/A||N/A||+1400||+1400||16.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG|
|Marcus Foster||Kansas State||N/A||N/A||N/A||+5000||+5000||17 PPG|
|Olivier Hanlan||Boston College||N/A||N/A||N/A||+5000||+5000||20.5 PPG|
|Ryan Boatright||UConn||N/A||N/A||N/A||+5000||+5000||15.5 PPG|
|Tyler Haws||BYU||N/A||N/A||N/A||+5000||+5000||22.5 PPG|
|Cliff Alexander||Kansas||N/A||N/A||N/A||+900||+900||10.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 3 BPG|
|Perry Ellis||Kansas||N/A||N/A||N/A||+4000||+5000||15 PPG, 7.5 RPG|
|Branden Dawson||Michigan||N/A||N/A||N/A||+7500||+7500||13.5 PPG, 8.5 RPG|
|Myles Turner||Texas||N/A||N/A||N/A||+1100||+1100||9 RPG, 3.5 BPG|
|Treveon Graham||VCU||N/A||N/A||N/A||+7500||+7500||15.5 PPG|
|Rondae Hollis-Jefferson||Arizona||N/A||N/A||N/A||+7500||+7500||11.5 PPG, 7 RPG|
|Rodney Purvis||UConn||N/A||N/A||N/A||+7500||+7500||12.5 PPG|
|Michael Frazier||Florida||N/A||N/A||N/A||+7500||+7500||13.5 PPG|
|Kevin Pangos||Gonzaga||N/A||N/A||N/A||+7500||+7500||14.5 PPG, 3.5 APG|
|JayVaughn Pinkston||Villanova||N/A||N/A||N/A||+7500||+7500||14.5 PPG|
|Chasson Randle||Stanford||N/A||N/A||N/A||+7500||+7500||18 PPG|
Although Okafor has looked impressive in brief highlights, it’s surprising to see the freshman big man listed as the favorite. Last season as a sophomore, Louisville forward Montrezl Harrell averaged 14 points and 8.4 rebounds per game and oddsmakers anticipate those numbers will climb to 17 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. Considering both players are on top-five teams and Harrell’s projections are superior to Okafor’s, it’s tough to understand why oddsmakers ranked them in this order.
It’s also interesting to see Arizona’s freshman forward Stanley Johnson listed with the third best odds (+800). The 6’6″ wing was listed by ESPN as the 7th best incoming recruit, yet his Player of the Year odds are ahead of superior recruits like Myles Turner (+1100), Cliff Alexander (+900), Tyus Jones (+1400), and Trey Lyles (N/A).
On Tuesday (1/6/14) Bovada re-opened this prop bet with Duke’s Jahlil Okafor (+150) listed as the clear cut front runner. The 6’11” freshman is currently averaging 19.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game on an astounding 68.2% field goal shooting. The following day, Okafor moved to even money. By the end of the week, Okafor has jumped all the way to -250.
Although top-ranked Kentucky doesn’t have a true “go-to” player, junior center Willie Cauley-Stein (+1000) has the shortest Player of the Year odds of any Wildcat. Despite playing just 24 minutes per game, the seven-footer has made a huge impact on the defensive end with 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. However, his averages of 10.1 points and 6.6 rebounds are hardly overwhelming.
Looking for a fast riser with big-time potential? How about Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant at +2500? The 6’5″ senior point guard is averaging 17.3 points and 6.3 assists per game, while shooting over 51% from the floor. He’s also been a frequent contibutor to ESPN’s Top Ten with many exciting plays, including this dunk against Georgia Tech.
Oh my god, Jerian Grant https://t.co/efzEi704Y2
— Rob Dauster (@RobDauster) January 3, 2015
Who do you think will take home the Player of the Year this season? Will a freshman win this award for the third time? Is there a dark horse candidate the oddsmakers are overlooking? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.