Buddy Hield or Denzel Valentine?
Toward the end of the season, these two names quickly became synonymous with the title of best college basketball player in the country. However, it was Denzel Valentine taking home the hardware as the Associated Press announced the Michigan State Spartan and senior as their Player of the Year. The decision led to some outrage from several fanbases impressed with the play of Buddy Hield.
However, the best argument against the Big 10 Player of the Year leaned heavily on a first round exit from the NCAA Tournament after lofty expectations and a Final Four appearance the previous year. Never mind the fact that Valentine became the first player in NCAA history to average 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists in a season since the NCAA began recording assists as an official stat.
By comparison, Big 12 Player of the Year, Buddy Hield scored 30+ points in two games prior to the AP Player of the Year announcement while leading Oklahoma to the Final Four. The numbers and NCAA Tournament situations clearly didn't speak loudly enough. Averaging 25.4 points a game, Hield solidified himself as one of the best scorers in the land. Tacking on 5.7 rebounds and 2 assists to his numbers were what pushed Hield over the edge.
The most over glaring issue most have failed to take note of is the fact that the AP voted on the Player of the Year before the NCAA Tournament started. Based off the body of work, I ask again...Buddy Hield or Denzel Valentine?
Valentine may have missed four games but put up once in a lifetime type numbers leading to a Big 10 Conference Tournament Title. I love Buddy Hield as much as the next Sooners fan but, the star guard failed to produce a Big 12 Regular Season or Big 12 Tournament Title in his final year of eligibility.
Regardless, for Hield not to be named the Wooden Award Winner and the Naismith Trophy Winner would be a shame. Look for those announcements to come in following days.