So far today, Cal has asked people to stop mailing things to his house, and a UNC player was arrested on drug related charges. Both are things that sort of surprise you at first, but then the more you think about them, the more they make sense. Of course people would mail things to Cal’s house. I’m surprised I haven’t done it. Although, to be fair, I’d probably skip the post man and go right up to the mailbox to slide in my twice-annual Christmas card. So at least they’re not setting foot on his property. And, honestly, of course a student in Chapel Hill would get busted for marijuana. It’s a college campus in North Carolina. The only place in North Carolina that an arrest like that is more likely is Asheville, because they’re ALL hippies in Asheville.
But that’s TWO ridiculous things in one day, which can only mean that we’re at the final installation of ridiculously early guesses for next year’s superlatives. We’ve done leading scorer, most minutes, and defensive MVP, which really leaves just one pressing question: Who will be next year’s Final Four MOP? I started to make that “Next Year’s MVP,” but if Dakari Johnson believes they’re going to win a championship, then so do I.
The Case For: Poythress has the “all-around” type of skill package that can fill up a stat sheet; a little rebounding, efficient shooting, and some leadership would go a long way.
The Case Against: Consistency. Anthony Davis, two years ago, was always good, even if he was missing shots. Poythress will have to stay out of his own head should he slump offensively, to still help the team.
The Case For: Speaking of Davis, he didn’t have to score in his title game to win MOP. Hopefully that precedent would help WCS, who has never been a force on offense. Plus we know he can rebound and block a couple shots.
The Case Against: Davis won despite his poor shooting because of his performance through the season and the earlier tournament games. So Willie will have to be impressive through the year to expect the same leniency.
The Case For: If he makes the big shots when he needs to, and sinks free throws in a (hypothetically) close game, there’s no reason to think that Wiltjer couldn’t take home MOP honors.
The Case Against: He’s gonna have to shoot really well if he doesn’t improve defensively. He showed some improvement last year, and it could continue, but right now he’s only a threat on one side of the ball.
The Case For: Polson winning MOP is the ultimate Rudy ending–a local walk on winning the league’s most coveted individual award would be so great, they’d have to make a movie out of it. And, theoretically, it could happen. It just takes a string of a few great games at the right time to seal the deal.
The Case Against: If Rudy seems improbable, it’s because it is. Even that movie was exaggerated to appeal to the masses. Polson was solid last year, and will be solid this year, but he might not be outstanding enough to win MOP.
The Case For: Same thing as Jarrod with the hometown hero thing, except Jon didn’t come as a walk on. He did, however, recover from an injury, so he’d have the whole Adam Banks from Mighty Ducks angle going for him (“I woke up this morning… and the pain was gone.”)
The Case Against: Again, it’s a quaint, albeit improbable story.
The Case For: Any coach will tell you that PG is the most important, and most difficult position on the floor. If Andrew wills the team to a championship with a balanced, involved offense, no reason to think he can’t be MOP and exceed his point guard predecessors like Wall, Knight, and Teague.
The Case Against: He might be too committed to getting others involved, at the cost of his own production. That’s not a bad thing, but ultimately it might be a hindrance, if only slightly.
The Case For: My pick for scoring leader, could put up a “Doron Lamb v. Kansas”-like game somewhere in the Final Four that would vault an already good season to lofty air.
The Case Against: He’ll have to show that he can do more than just score to win MOP. It’s a multi-faceted award.
The Case For: Similar to Aaron Harrison–can already score, and might be a better wing defender and rebounder.
The Case Against: Again, like Aaron, he’ll have to show his versatility. Not saying he can’t, but it’s got to be there.
The Case For: Already has a multi-faceted game, and looks to be one of the fiercer competitors on the team. Also my pick for best defensive player.
The Case Against: As is usually the case with these ridiculously early questions, there’s not a lot of downside with Julius. Maybe he has some bad games in the tourney after getting too hyped. Unlikely, but possible.
The Case For: Could put on a Davis-like performance with a ton of rebounds and blocked shots, with a little scoring.
The Case Against: He’s like the opposite of Young and Aaron Harrison–we already know he can rebound and defend, now he has to show that he can score.
The Case For: Has so much potential, and has already improved even since signing with Kentucky. Might continue that improvement and become the best guy on the team.
The Case Against: Will probably have to continue to improve to beat the other big guys for stats.
The Case For: Again, we have the hometown hero angle, but this time with the added bonus of being a freshman.
The Case Against: He’s in a super competitive position, and will have his chances to shine in later years.
The Case For: Imagine–Andrew Harrison gets hurt (knock on wood), and Dominique Hawkins impresses in practice enough to step in at point guard, leading the team to a championship against impossible odds.
The Case Against: An injury to Andrew might be the only scenario Dominique gets that chance. And we hope that doesn’t happen.
Final Four MOP is typically given to a guy that has at least been impressive throughout the year, then continues to assert dominance through the NCAA tournament. Davis won a couple years ago due to his efficiency and versatility, and while Alex Poythress could match those characteristics, I think Julius Randle will adjust a little bit better, and dominate a little more. In all of these ridiculously early questions, Randle has either “won” or been in top consideration. And I probably should have given him “leading scorer” last week, but I saw this coming and wanted to spread the love a little. So, when Kentucky gets a championship trophy next season, it’ll be Randle who gets a little individual recognition with an MOP award.