Eight on Naismith Watch, Mbakwe Left Off

 Over the course of the past week, the NCAA preseason college basketball awards have been dished out in a flurry; from pre-season All-Americans to polls to endless lists of possibilities for the new season.  One of the most important lists that comes out of the NCAA is the Naismith Trophy Watch List.  They give out the names of 50 players, both upper and under classmen. On Monday, the list was released.

And, while the SEC snagged 10 of its players onto the list, the Big Ten wasn’t far behind with eight.  But, oddly enough, one of the players that was awarded as a first-team preseason Big Ten All-American and third-team NCAA All-American wasn’t one of the 50 on the list.  Trevor Mbakwe, the forward out of the University of Minnesota, was snubbed of being voted on the Naismith Watch. 

Mbakwe has averaged 19.5 point a game in the two exhibition games for the Golden Gophers.  He has also recorded a double-double in each contest as he looks to be the Big Ten double-double machine for the second year in a row.  In the two games, Mbakwe has only missed three total shots, going 13-of-15 from the field and 13-of-14 from the charity stripe. He was known for his consistent game all season last year allowing many to claim Mbakwe as this year's Kenneth Faried.  

It’s a little baffling for the committee to omit Mbakwe’s name for no true reason.  They put the list together with no regard to off-the-court concerns so Mbakwe’s presence on the court should shine extra bright.  As for the players that actually made the watch list, here they are:

Aaron Craft, Ohio State: Fresh of BT Powerhouse Defensive POY, Craft is set up to shine once again in Thad Matta’s offense as a sophomore.  Craft will be the floor general for the dynamic offense of Ohio State with Buford and Sullinger.

William Buford, Ohio State: Buford has been at OSU for three full seasons and has kept his shooting hand strong all throughout.  His senior season should be no difference as he tries to lead the Buckeyes to the Final Four.

Draymond Green, Michigan State: The Dancing Bear has to lead a Michigan State team that has a ton of potential.  The leadership of Green should be able to get the Spartans back towards the top of the Big Ten.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan: After a great freshman campaign, it’s time for Hardaway Jr. to do it all over again.  The Michigan guard is a pure shooter and has the ability to excel in Big Ten play.

Robbie Hummel: Purdue: Two injury plagued seasons in a row won’t be enough to stop Hummel from Purdue.  The beloved player has his eyes set on another great NCAA run without his two graduated teammates that he’s had in years prior.  

John Shurna: Northwestern: It sort of feels like Shurna has been at Northwestern for about 10 seasons now, but this is actually his senior season.  After finishing 7-11 in Big Ten play, Shurna and the Wildcats are aimed to make a push to the NCAA Tournament. 

Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: Arguably the best player in the Big Ten, Sullinger could have decided to take his talents to the NBA after his freshman season.  He didn’t.  He is going to wreak havoc on frontcourts around the nation. 

Jordan Taylor: Wisconsin:  Taylor’s only other Division I offer coming out of college was Green Bay.  Now, Taylor is being regarded as one of the best players in all college basketball. 

You can argue all day of who should and should not be on a list, but it’s going to come down to what you show on the court that really matters.  The Naismith list will be reconfigured mid-season as a 30-player list, so Big Ten players of all kind have a chance to be named Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year by season’s end.

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