At the start of the 2020-21 season, Iowa star Luka Garza stood out so blatantly among his peers as the best college basketball player that we ruled him out as an option for the game. article on dribble transfer predictions on who would win the Naismith College Player of the Year. Essentially, we ended up making our predictions as to who would be the second best player of the college hoops season, as Garza went on to win virtually every player of the year award.
As the 2021-22 season approaches, things look a bit more open in the race for the Naismith Trophy. Gonzaga star Drew Timme is the only CBS Sports All-American first team to return, but there are four total returns from our three All-American teams, and it’s unclear how prospect # 1 arrived. Chet Holmgren will impact the use of Timme in Gonzaga.
Other returning All-Americans include Illinois center Kofi Cockburn, Michigan center Hunter Dickinson and Oral Roberts goaltender Max Abmas. But sometimes the Naismith winner comes from an unexpected place, like 2020 winner Obi Toppin, who exploded after winning the 2018-19 A-10 Rookie of the Year title to win numerous national awards in second year the following season. There is also recent precedent for freshmen who won the Naismith Award with Zion Williamson in 2019, Anthony Davis in 2012, and Kevin Durant in 2007.
So who is in line to collect the material as the country’s best player in the coming season? Our writers make their predictions here in this week’s edition of the dribble transfer.
Drew Timme, Gonzague
The obvious favorite for the National Player of the Year (as shown above) is Drew Timme, given he is the only CBS Sports First All-American team to return to college. and the team’s top scorer and returning rebounder ranked No. 1 in the CBS Sports Preseason Top 25 and 1.
So I’ll go with him.
The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 19.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 28.2 minutes per game last season for a Gonzaga team that played for the national title and finished 31-1. As you probably know, he hasn’t been great in that national title game against Baylor which is one of the reasons Gonzaga hasn’t been great in this national title game against Baylor. Timme took fewer shots (7) than he normally takes, scored fewer points (12) than he normally scores, took fewer rebounds (5) than he takes normally and was a defensive handicap in space. Again, not great. But I’m not going to let that last impression overshadow an otherwise incredible second season – and I’ll be surprised if Timme isn’t even better this season as he plays for a team that is considered the favorite to win the NCAA tournament. 2022. -Gary Parrish
Chet Holmgren, Gonzague
Cobb, thanks for reminding me of this Summer 2020 Dribble Handoff piece. Garza not being an option, I took Cade Cunningham – who ended up as the First Team All-American, was the National Freshman of the Year and basically lived up to the hype on his way to becoming the # 1 pick. Since Parrish took Timme, and I think he’s going to be close to Garza’s level in terms of his love for pre-season for NPOY, I will avoid overtaking. In fact, Timme could get pushed by Holmgren anyway. And you know what ?
That’s what I’m going to say happens. I’ll be taking the best scheduled freshman in the country – and someone in the mix to be the No.1 pick – for a second straight season. Holmgren’s role will see him play a lot more on the perimeter than Timme. Gonzaga has a good non-conference schedule, but there isn’t a single road game on the agenda until the WCC game begins. Extremely good luck that Gonzaga is a No.1 seed. Holmgren will be one of a kind in college hoops. It’s easy to imagine his stat line being in the range of 17.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks, and 3.5 assists. If that’s what it is, he’ll have a good chance of beating Timme to become the best college basketball player. – Matt Norlander
Paolo Banchero, Duke
I’m already in wax with Duke as the title pick in 2021-22. This is based on what I think could be a storybook ending for one of the best college coaches of all time in Coach K as he picks it up one final year before he retires. But, in addition, it is a bet on the talent at his side for this last lap.
Duke as a team has several first round talents that can get them there and a certified superstar in Banchero who will be the best of the group. A 6-foot-9 forward, he will physically overwhelm his opponents and should present some screaming and effective numbers for a team with title aspirations. Take a look back at the past two decades and this role on Duke has often been equated with recognition as the best in college basketball. If Banchero is as good as advertised, why would this season be any different? – Kyle Boone
Trayce Jackson-Davis’s stardom in two seasons at Indiana has been overlooked due to the Hoosiers’ struggles, but make no mistake that Jackson-Davis is, indeed, a star. Now he’s ready to take his All-Big Ten game to the next level under the guidance of first-year coach Mike Woodson. The 6-foot-9 center is ready to expand his game as a junior under the guidance of a coach who knows it takes a good outside shot to be a great man in today’s NBA. Assuming Jackson-Davis adds one to his repertoire, it will be borderline unstoppable.
Jackson-Davis is more athletic than compatriots Kofi Cockburn and Hunter Dickinson, more versatile defensively and just as good, if not better, on the rebound than both. These three will be in contention for the Big Ten and National Player of the Year honors, and if Jackson-Davis continues on his improvement trajectory as he should under Woodson, he may emerge as the top player of that line. and the best in the nation. –David Cobb