Syracuse was known as perhaps the deepest team in America this season, drawing some criticism that the team was lacking a true "go-to guy" late in games, but one player was superior than the rest offensively by the time the 34-3 campaign was ended by Ohio State in the Elite Eight.
Joseph led the Orange in scoring for the second-straight season, landing on the first-team All-Big-East roster in the process. He scored 13.4 points per game and was responsible for the team's overtime win against rival Georgetown, burying a corner three late in the period which held up as the game-winner on the way to a career-high 29 points in the win. Joseph was the team's leading shot-maker from long-range, nailing 51 three-pointers, also a career-high. The senior also was responsible for an assist ½ per game in 2011-12.
Jardine led the team in assists yet again this season, resulting in a second-team All-Big-East selection. The senior's 4.9 assists per game was offset by an 8.9 point-per-game average to go along with a team-leading 37 percent shooting clip from long distance. Jardine also turned it on when his team needed it most, leading the Orange in scoring during the NCAA Tournament (13.8 ppg) as well as assists (6.25 per game) while elevating his free throw percentage from around 50 percent from the regular season to 83 percent (10 of 12) in the four-game stretch.
Waiters was the team's spark off the bench all season long, earning Sixth Man of the Year honors from the Big East as well as a third-team selection. He averaged 12.6 points per game over the regular season, but increased the numbers both in the Big East Tournament and in the NCAA Tournament. Against Cincinnati at Madison Square Garden, Waiters was able to notch a career-high 28 points, including seven three-pointers despite the Syracuse loss. He also averaged nearly three assists per game off the bench.
Winner: Dion Waiters
Going into the report, we thought Waiters was a runaway selection, but the fact that Jardine stepped up the way he did when it counted most – made it close.
But Waiters' offensive impact was too much.
The sophomore, who has since declared for the NBA, was the most explosive player on the floor and typically the most talented all season while serving as the catalyst for the most dangerous transition team in America. He led the team in steals, which led to a signature tomahawk dunk more times than not. Waiters averaged a gaudy 23 points per game in the Big East Tournament, and held steady at 13 points per game in the Bid Dance, where Joseph shrunk to just 10 points each time out. Waiters also led the team in steals, free throw percentage in going 17 of 18 (94 percent) from the line and he tied with Jardine with 11 three-pointers for the lead during postseason play.
On Friday, CuseNation.com will crown a Most Valuable Player – and there could be a surprise in the cards once it is released.