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Player of the Year Power Rankings: Josh Hart No. 1, Caleb Swanigan returns

Never Forget Tribute Classic

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 10: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats takes a shot against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half of a college basketball game at Prudential Center on December 10, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. Villanova defeated Notre Dame 74-66. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

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1. Josh Hart, Villanova: Here’s a fun stat for you to chew on: The knock on Josh Hart’s game entering the season was his shooting ability. After the first seven weeks of the season, Hart is a member of the 180 club. He’s shooting 56.0 percent from the floor, 43.3 percent from three and 81.0 percent from the free throw line. It’s not 50-40-90, but it’s still a terrific line for a player that isn’t supposed to be able to shoot.

2. Frank Mason III, Kansas: It’s now after Christmas and Mason still has not had a game where he has had less than 18 points and had less than eight assists. His biggest issue at this point is that he best game - the season-opener - and his biggest moment - four days after that - came so long ago that people are forgetting just how good he’s been. That will change, as the Jayhawks have at least three more games against top ten competition.

3. Lonzo Ball, UCLA: Ball had his first “bad” game against Western Michigan last week. In 37 minutes of a 14-point win, Ball had just seven points, five boards, four assists and three blocks. And while he had six double-doubles on the season, he’s still without a triple-double on the season. What a bum, right?

4. Luke Kennard, Duke: Twice last week the Blue Devils played games against overmatched competition, and twice they struggled to put that competition away. They beat Tennessee State by 10 and Elon by 11 despite being favored by a total of 53.5 points in those two games. Their savior once again? Kennard, who averaged 22.5 points and led the team in scoring on both nights.
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5. De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky: Fox has just been so consistent this season, especially against Kentucky’s best opponents. He had 20 points and nine assists against UCLA and Lonzo Ball. He had 24 points and 10 assists against North Carolina. He went for 21 points against Louisville. He’s averaging 16.3 points, 6.8 assists and 5.0 boards on the season. If only he wasn’t such a liability shooting the ball from the perimeter.

6. Mo Watson, Creighton: The last time we saw Watson take the floor the Bluejays beat Arizona State in Tempe. The diminutive point guard is leading the nation in assists, averaging 9.0 per game, as he runs Creighton’s high-powered offense.

7. Malik Monk, Kentucky: Monk dropped a spot this week after he was stymied by Louisville’s switching defense in a 73-70 loss last week. He finished the evening shooting 6-for-17 from the floor, 3-for-14 on jumpers and 1-for-9 from three. As is the case with all jump-shooters, Monk is tremendous when the shots are going down and not so much when they aren’t.
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8. Joel Berry II, North Carolina: In Berry’s only game last week, he had just 11 points and four assists as North Carolina avenged last year’s loss at Northern Iowa. Berry’s importance was proved the previous week, as UNC struggled to beat Tennessee at home without him and nearly knocked off Kentucky with him.

9. Markelle Fultz, Washington: Fultz has now led Washington to three straight wins in a five-day stretch, including back-to-back blowouts against Cal Poly and Seattle. Fultz is still posting ridiculous numbers - 22.0 points, 6.8 assists, 6.3 boards, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks - but the fact that those numbers are now producing some wins is what really matters. I can’t be the only one hoping that the Huskies turn this thing around and Fultz plays meaningful games at the end of the season.

10. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Swanigan had back-to-back 20-20 games last season and, in the process, became the only high-major player not named Blake Griffin to have three 20-20 games in the same season. He also became the first Purdue player to put up a 30-20 game since 1971. He has 10 double-doubles in 13 games this season. What a beast.


Amile Jefferson, Duke
Melo Trimble, Maryland
Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State
Alec Peters, Valparaiso
Marcus Foster, Creighton
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
T.J. Leaf, UCLA
Yante Maten, Georgia
Johnathan Motley, Baylor
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s
Michael Young, Pitt