College Basketball: AP Player of the Year Odds

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
Delon Wright Utah +2500 +2000 +1000 +4000 +4000 N/A
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.

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.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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