Player of the Year Candidates

As conference play is set to get into high gear, there isn't much clarity in college basketball. However, this much is clear: The race for National Player of the Year is wide open.

Guys like Ron Steele, Brian Randle, Malik Hairston and Corey Brewer have gotten off to slow starts due to injuries.

Here's our take, in order, of the Top 20 candidates for the National Player of the Year:

1) Alando Tucker, 6-6, F, Sr., Wisconsin - The Josh Howard-clone is the primary reason why the Badgers are 9-1 and No. 4 in the country. He's scoring at 21.2 points per game and grabbing 4.4 boards per contest. He needs to shoot better from the line (66 percent) and his rebounding numbers have dropped from 5.7 last season to 4.4.

2) Jermareo Davidson, 6-10, PF, Sr., Alabama - It's remarkable that with everything he's been through, Davidson is putting up 16.1 points, 10.6 boards and 4.8 blocks per game. With Steele banged up, Davidson has picked up the slack. The Crimson Tide are No. 10 in the nation largely because of Davidson. 3) Jared Dudley, 6-7, F, Sr., Boston College - While the Eagles lost a couple of early season games they shouldn't have, it's hard to fault the San Diego native. He's putting up 19.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and is shooting 61 percent from the field and 43 percent from long distance.

4) Tyler Hansbrough, 6-9, PF, Soph., North Carolina - Despite the influx of freshman talent, the best player on the team remains Psycho T. Hansbrough is averaging 18.9 points and 8.1 boards in 29 minutes per game - nearly identical numbers as what he put up his freshman campaign.

5) Nick Fazekas, 6-11, PF, Sr., Nevada - The Wolf Pack have managed to stick in the Top 25 despite a home loss to UNLV. The skilled and versatile senior is putting up 20.6 points and 12.8 boards per game. He's also shooting the ball better (41 percent from long range). Fazekas needs to cut down on his turnovers (2.7 per game).

6) Kevin Durant, 6-9, F, Fr., Texas - Just a freshman, Durant has been the primary reason for the Longhorns early season success despite their inexperience. Durant is averaging 20.4 points, 9 boards, 1.7 steals and 2.3 blocks per contest. He's shooting 46 percent from the field and 92 percent from the line (43 of 47 for the year).

7) Glen Davis, 6-8, PF, Jr., LSU - Big Baby has lost weight and his numbers have started to increase. He's averaging 20.1 points and 10.3 boards per game, but his turnovers have increased from 2.7 to 3.6 per game. He is spending too much of his time on the perimeter so far this season.

8) Aaron Gray, 7-0, C, Sr., Pittsburgh - The numbers may not appear as though Gray has made the kind of progress he did between his sophomore and junior campaign, but he's putting up a double-double (16.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg) and has cut down on his turnovers (1.7 per game) and is also finishing better (63 percent from the field as opposed to 53 percent last season).

9) Ivan Radenovic, 6-10, PF, Sr., Arizona - It's difficult to pick someone for Arizona, but the skilled Serbian has been the most consistent Wildcat. Radenovic leads the No. 9 team in the land in scoring (17.4) and rebounding (7.8) while shooting 57 percent from the field and making half of his shots from downtown.

10) Mario Boggan, 6-7, PF, Sr., Oklahoma State - The well-traveled big man has finally started to tap into his potential. He's leading the Cowboys in scoring (20.5) and rebounding (7) and led Sean Sutton's team to 10 straight wins before Monday's loss at Tennessee.

11) Jarrius Jackson, 6-1, G, Sr., Texas Tech - Versatile guard who can really score. Jackson is averaging 21.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and is shooting 57 percent from 3-point land (33-of-58).

12) Greg Oden, 7-0, C, Fr., Ohio State - Sure, he's only played three games. However, he's a difference-maker. In fact, he's the difference-maker. He's averaging 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.3 blocks thus far in 24 minutes per game - while playing without the full use of his shooting hand.

13) Carl Landry, 6-7, F, Sr., Purdue - He's come back with a vengeance after missing last season due to injury. Putting up 19.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for a surprising Boilermakers club.

14) Arron Afflalo, 6-5, SG, Jr., UCLA - It's tough not to have a guy from the top-ranked team in the land on the list. Afflalo's numbers are hardly eye-popping, but he is leading the team in scoring (16.3). Afflalo is a terrific defender, but needs to rebound (1.9) better.

15) P.J. Couisnard, 6-4, SF, Jr., Wichita State - I know. Who? He's the glue guy for the team with the best early season resume in the nation. He just does it all. Have a look: 11.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks. He's also shooting 56 percent from the field and 47 percent from 3-point land. Oh yeah, the Shockers are 8-0 and No. 8 in the nation.

16) Rob Kurz, 6-9, PF, Jr., Notre Dame - Here's another guy not many people know much about. The skilled forward is putting up impressive numbers for the 20th-ranked Irish. Take a look: 15.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.6 blocks while shooting 60 percent from the field, 92 percent from the line and 47 percent from long range.

17) Morris Almond, 6-6, SF, Sr., Rice - Obviously, he won't win the award because his team is .500. However, the Georgia native is leading the nation in scoring at 30.1 points per game, is also a solid rebounder (5.3) and doesn't take a lot of bad shots. He's making 54 percent of his field goals and 48 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

18) Al Horford, 6-8, PF, Jr., Florida - On a team that has struggled early, he's been the Gators best player thus far. However, Horford currently has a sprained ankle that will likely linger and slow down his production. He's putting up 13.2 points, 8.3 boards and 2.1 blocks in just 24.1 minutes per game for the defending national champs.

19) Dominic James, 5-11, PG, Soph., Marquette - The quick floor leader needs to become a better shooter, but he finds a way to score. James is averaging 17.2 points and 4.1 assists, but shoots just 44 percent from the field and 31 percent from 3-point land.

20) Chris Lofton, 6-2, SG, Jr., Tennessee - He doesn't do much else, but he's arguably the best shooter in the country. He leads the Vols in scoring (21.5) and is knocking down 50 percent of his 3-pointers.

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