Who should win player of the year?
Quenton: While Kemba has had a wonderful season for the UConn Huskies thus far, Jimmer Fredette is the Player of the Year in college basketball right now. Kemba may have emerged as the frontrunner this season in Maui, but Fredette has more than caught up with his production. Fredette has only scored under 20 points four times this year, and is averaging 36.6 points in his last three games, including 47 at Utah and 42 at Colorado State on Saturday. He's averaging 41 percent from 3-point range, shooting 90 percent from the charity stripe and his range is infinite.
Matt: Fredette should not move to the frontrunner position solely because of his production. The Player of the Year should be based on production against quality opponents. Although Fredette's point averages are better, Walker has hit four game-winners this season. He has led the team to victory against No. 7 Villanova, No. 12 Texas, No. 8 Kentucky and No. 2 Michigan State. He was the MVP of the Maui Invitational with 90 points over three days. Fredette hasn't performed on the big stage like Walker, let alone against tough competition like that.
Quenton: Many knocks against Fredette for POTY say that BYU hasn't faced the opposition Walker and the Huskies have through the season. Fifteen of the 20 teams BYU has faced have a .500 record or better; three teams are in the top 25 and five teams have a 15-5 record or better throughout 20 games. In the five games against these five opponents, Fredette has averaged 29 points. So not only does Fredette face as many worthy opponents as Walker, but he shows up in these games with monster performances. On the other hand, 12 of the 18 teams UConn has played have a .500 record or better, slightly lower than BYU, and teams defeated by the Huskies such as UMBC and Farleigh Dickinson have a combined 7-31 record. And, if records are really in question, two of the top teams in the Mountain West Conference have better records than everyone in the Big East.
Matt: Records aside, there is no bigger dogfight than the Big East conference schedule. The season-long grind is unlike any other conference slate in America. With that said, although Fredette will have his opportunity against No. 4 and undefeated San Diego State, the strengths of the Big East conference will always outweigh the Mountain West. Two Big East teams are in the top five, four in the top 10 and seven are in the AP Top-25 poll. Although BYU's 19-1 is slightly better than UConn's 17-2, the Huskies' in-conference and out-of-conference schedule is as hard as anyone else's. Walker has chances to improve his credentials against Louisville, Syracuse, St. John's and Georgetown until the conference tourney.
Quenton: When determining the Player of the Year, it should be about the statistics and not which conference that player competes in. While the Big East is more competitive, the Mountain West also still has its fair share of worthy opponents. Also, Fredette shouldn't be penalized because of schedule when he has no authority over which teams he'll compete against on a nightly basis. But at the end of the day, regardless of opponent, each player has to go out and perform and Fredette has shown that he can do just that. He leads the country in scoring at 26.7, and if it wasn't for a few blowouts where he sat out most of the second half, it might be higher. He's increased his field goal and free throw percentage from last year, and he's also averaged five or more assists in 10 games this year, which shows that he's more versatile than he's given credit for. So while there's debate about conference toughness, the actual statistics don't lie with Fredette.
Matt: Walker means the most to his team. No other team in the nation relies on a player like UConn does with Walker. As evident in the Pittsburgh game, while Walker exhausted himself in a loss, other players stood around waiting for him to make magic happen. Walker's 42-point outburst against Vermont was called "special" by coach Jim Calhoun. Walker has had just that, a special season, and no matter how far the Huskies go, it should end with a trophy in his hands.
Quenton: Fredette has lead BYU to a 19-1 record, which was a start nobody expected from this team. Fredette's production has been phenomenal, but because BYU doesn't get the same exposure as UConn, his statistics go unnoticed. Fredette has done everything for his team, and the fact that BYU is in the top 10 warrants giving Fredette the Player of the Year award.
Matt: It's nice that little BYU is having a good season and Fredette is a great player, but Walker plays with the big boys. Unlike 2004, when Jameer Nelson and Emeka Okafor shared the award, 2011 belongs solely to the top dog: Kemba Walker.
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