Ladies and gentleman let me be the first to welcome you all to the first annual Chocolate Puma Awards for outstanding achievement in the field of excellence: college basketball edition. Let's not waste any time here and get to our first award, the freshman of the year. The nominees are:
Kevin Love, C, UCLA: 17.3 points per game, 11.1 rebounds per game.
Coming into this season I had K. Love as probably the most overrated player in this deep freshman class. Boy was I wrong. Not only does he lead the Pac-10 champs in scoring and rebounding, he may be the best passing big man to come through in quite a while.
Derrick Rose, PG, Memphis: 14.4 Points per game, 4.5 assists per game, 4.4 rebounds per game.
I think that Rose is the best guard prospect in the last decade. Given his skill set you would think he would jack shots up at an alarming rate...not this guy. The epitome of a pass first point guard, Rose's ability to penetrate through defenses allows shooters such as Chris Douglas-Roberts and Willie Kemp open looks at the basket.
Eric Gordon, SG, Indiana: 21.3 points per game, 3.3 rebounds per game.
A truly dynamic scorer who has the ability to either shoot the three or he can drive and dunk all over your interior defenders. He at times settles into this me-first mentality often taking bad shots and complaining too often about a perceived lack of a non-call.
Michael Beasley, PF/SF, Kansas State: 27.0 points per game, 12.6 rebounds per game
Beasley is without question the most talented freshman that I have ever had the pleasure of watching. He has prototypical power forward size and skill sets, but he can also step back and shoot the three as evidence by his almost 40 percent average from behind the three point line.
And the winner is....Michael Beasley.
Now on to the coach of the year. The nominees are:
Matt Painter, Purdue.
Mike Brey, Notre Dame
Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
And the winner is... Coach K. As much as it pains me as a Carolina fan to say this, Coach K has done a phenomenal job with this Duke team which has no real inside threat yet it has found a way to win 25 games and lose only 3. All this while changing offensive philosophies. Astonishing.
Now on to the conference players of the year. Given the number of conferences, I will stick with only the major conferences.
ACC: Tyler Hansborough, C
Big East: Luke Harangody, C/F
Big Ten: D.J. White, PF
Big 12: Michael Beasley, F
Pac-10: Darren Collison, PG
Conference USA: Chris Douglas-Roberts, SG
Now kids, the Puma will give you his All-Chocolatey team. These are the guys that most embody everything that I love about the game of college basketball. The lucky members are:
PG: DJ Augustin, Texas
SG: Stephen Curry, Davidson
SF: Danny Green, UNC
PF: Michael Beasley, Kansas State
C: Tyler Hansborough, UNC
Coach: Matt Painter, Purdue
And now, the moment we have all been waiting for, the Chocolate Puma's award for player of the year. The nominees are:
Michael Beasley,F, Kansas State
Tyler Hansborough, C, UNC
D.J. Augustin, PG, Texas
Luke Harangody, C/F, Notre Dame
And the winner is....Tyler Hansborough of UNC. While there is no question that Beasley is the most talented player on the college planet, no one held his team together more through injury and has helped them possibly secure the number one seed in the NCAA tourney. Congratulations to all the winners.