A few weeks ago, Trae Young appeared to be a lock to win the Naismith College Player of the Year Award. Six straight losses and a cold shooting stretch later, and that’s no longer the case.

Young could still win it – in fact, he’s likely a slight favorite. But the race is open.

Here are three guys who could also challenge for the Naismith.  

RELATED: Full Naismith top 30 list

*PG Jalen Brunson, Villanova

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Villanova’s Jalen Brunson talks with Andy Katz

Brunson is the best player on arguably the best team in America. If that’s your criteria for the Naismith, look no further.

The junior is averaging 19.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists for No. 3 Villanova on his usual absurd efficiency; Brunson is shooting 54 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3. The counting numbers are nice, but the efficiency is what sets him apart — Young, for example, is shooting 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from 3. Point guards aren’t supposed to shoot 54 percent – that’s generally a figure reserved from centers who rarely stray from the paint. His defense, as always, is rock-solid as well.


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Brunson isn’t your typical point guard. He’s stronger than he is quick. He can get by guys, sure, but he’s about as lethal posting up a smaller defender as he is weaving in and out of ball screens. A Jay Wright special: plant Brunson on the block, and watch one of two things happen: bully his way for a bucket, or use his canny passing to find an open shooter. Brunson’s post-up game is a weapon that no other team can boast — or on most nights, defend.