Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker, whose college career might have ended in a stunning NCAA Tournament upset Friday, is one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced Sunday.
Others up for the award, which goes to the men’s college basketball player of the year, are Creighton senior forward Doug McDermott, Louisville senior guard Russ Smith and Arizona junior guard Nick Johnson.
Voting for the Naismith Trophy was based on regular-season play, so the Blue Devils’ loss to 14th-seeded Mercer in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 64 wasn’t a factor.
Parker, a the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year, set a school freshman record by averaging 19.3 points per game. He tied for the league lead in rebounding at 8.8 boards per game.
McDermott, a Naismith finalist for the third year in a row, could become the first player to make the AP first-team All-America squad three times since Patrick Ewing and Wayman Tisdale did so from 1983-85. The Big East Player of the Year, he became the third college player ever to record 3,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. He is averaging a national-best 27 points this season.
Smith was selected the American Athletic Conference’s tournament Most Valuable Player. He ranked fourth in the league in scoring (18.0 points per game) and first in steals (2.3 per game) and 3-point percentage (.474).
Johnson was the Pac-12 Player of the Year after leading the Wildcats with an average of 16.2 points per game.
“Each of the remaining candidates demonstrates a unique style of basketball, and their individual accomplishments reflect their talent and dedication to the sport,” Atlanta Tipoff Club executive director Eric Oberman said. “Additionally, they have been key contributors to their team’s successes throughout the season and that truly exemplifies strong leadership. We would be happy to call any of them a Naismith Trophy winner.”
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