As season's end draws near, so does the long-awaited disbursement of awards. College basketball has quite the dossier of accolades to be handed out this season, but perhaps the award that will generate the most discussion is the Naismith Award.
Today, the list of candidates narrowed further as we approach the finale of the 2013-14 season. And with that, three names from the BIG EAST Conference were able to survive the cut. Per the Naismith Award's official website, Providence guard Bryce Cotton, Villanova guard James Bell, and Creighton forward Doug McDermott survived and advanced into the field of 30 here in the middle of the season. Joining them are 27 of the elite in college basketball, including the likes of Cleanthony Ealy of Wichita St., Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair of Syracuse, Jabari Parker of Duke and many more.
All three players that represent the BIG EAST Conference on this list should generate no shred of backlash.
Senior forward James Bell has been perhaps the Villanova Wildcats' most important player this season. Bell, a native of Orlando, Fl., is averaging 16.0 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game on 45.4 percent shooting. Bell's offensive and defensive outputs have helped Villanova maintain a Top-10 ranking for a majority of the season.
Cotton, meanwhile, has been a catalyst for the Friars as they have been making a recent push for the NCAA Tournament. Cotton has racked up a Min% of 95.9 percent, the highest of any player in the country this season. The senior from Tucson, Az. is putting up stellar numbers, scoring 21.2 points per game and dishing out 5.8 assists per game.
And, it goes without saying that Doug McDermott might be the front-runner for the Naismith Award itself. The superstar forward from Ames, Ia. is wrapping up his time in Omaha in style, averaging 25.3 points per game on a near-impeccable 49.9 percent shooting from the field. He has carried the Creighton Bluejays to a smooth transition into their new conference, as the Bluejays hold a 19-4 record going into Thursday, and have been battling Villanova for first place in the conference for almost the entire year.