The Atlanta Tipoff Club has announced its 2011-12 Naismith preseason watch list. This year’s list includes the top men’s college basketball players from 34 schools around the country, including Creighton men’s basketball sophomore Doug McDermott.
The watch list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, which based its criteria on player performances from the previous year and expectations for the 2011-12 college basketball season. The Naismith Trophy will be awarded at the 2012 NCAA Men’s Final Four in New Orleans.
McDermott led Creighton in scoring (14.9) and rebounding (7.2) per game last season while sweeping MVC Freshman and Newcomer of the Year honors. After strong performance with Team USA’s U19 Team at the FIBA World Championships in Latvia, McDermott continues to reel in preseason accolades. He is the only player from the Missouri Valley Conference on the preseason list by both Naismith and the Wooden Award, and is Creighton’s first preseason honoree on the Naismith watch list since Nate Funk prior to the 2006-07 campaign.
Two teams – UNC and Kentucky – boast four players each on the list, while three schools – Connecticut, Ohio State and Vanderbilt – each have three players. The list represents 14 different athletic conferences and features 28 upperclassmen and 22 underclassmen.
“Between conference realignments, rule changes and an incredible amount of talent at the college level this year, the 2012 Naismith Player of the Year is truly anybody’s for the taking,” said Eric Oberman, Atlanta Tipoff Club executive director. “We’re excited to be a part of such an historic year in college basketball and look forward to crowning the best player in college basketball in April.”
In late February, the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors will compile a mid-season team of the top 30 players in the nation. Then in March, the Naismith Trophy voting academy will vote to narrow the list to the four finalists.
Other notable Naismith Men’s College Player of the Year winners include Bill Walton, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and last year’s winner, Jimmer Fredette. The Naismith Trophy is the most prestigious national award presented annually to college basketball’s player of the year.