Wooden Award Watch 2013-14: Ranking the Top 10 Candidates in Week 3

C.J. Moore@@CJMooreHoopsCollege Basketball National Lead WriterNovember 27, 2013

Wooden Award Watch 2013-14: Ranking the Top 10 Candidates in Week 3

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    Marcus Smart has emerged as the early favorite for the Wooden Award.
    Marcus Smart has emerged as the early favorite for the Wooden Award.Brett Deering/Getty Images

    Marcus Smart didn't like all the Andrew Wiggins and freshmen talk before the season, and he's done his best to make sure everyone is talking about him the last two weeks.

    If he has to hit 70-footers to get everyone's attention, then by golly, he'll hit 70-footers!

    The Cowboys have been the most dominant team in the country so far and Smart has taken the lead in the Player of the Year standings.

    This week a Tar Heel joins the party and those freshmen keep putting up numbers that cannot be ignored. Sorry, Marcus.

    10 to Watch: Andrew Wiggins, Kansas; Jordan Adams, UCLA; Joseph Young, Oregon; Russ Smith, Louisville; Adreian Payne, Michigan State; Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati; Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin; Chaz Williams, UMass; Rodney Hood, Duke; Nik Stauskas, Michigan.

    All advanced stats, unless otherwise noted, come from KenPom.com (subscription needed).

10. Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Stats (6 games): 17.0 PPG, 5.3 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG

    Lamar Patterson is a name probably only hardcore college basketball fans already know. The fifth-year senior has been a nice role player for Pitt in the past. Nothing spectacular. Just a solid piece for Jamie Dixon.

    Well, Patterson could be the surprise star of this season and the Panthers could end up the surprise team. They've been dominant in their 6-0 start and had two nice blowout wins this week in Brooklyn against Texas Tech and Stanford. Patterson averaged 23.5 points, 5.0 assists and 3.5 steals in the two wins.

    He's shooting a career-best 46.7 percent from deep and his assist rate (41.7) ranks seventh nationally. That's coming from a 6'5" wing.

9. Keith Appling, Michigan State

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    Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

    Stats (6 games): 16.8 PPG, 5.7 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.3 SPG

    Tom Izzo wanted Keith Appling to get his assist numbers up this year and Appling accomplished that through Michigan State's first five games when he had at least four assists in every game and six or more in four games.

    Izzo had a different message on Saturday against Oklahoma. He wanted Appling to get to the basket, and once again the point guard did what he was told. Appling had six baskets in the pant and scored 10 of his 27 points at the free-throw line.

    Appling is delivering in every way possible for the top-ranked Spartans, and his consistency has him ahead of teammate Adreian Payne, who has also been really good thus far. 

8. Perry Ellis, Kansas

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Stats (4 games): 16.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.8 BPG, 0.8 SPG

    Perry Ellis and Andrew Wiggins are tied as KU's leading scorers, but Ellis has been KU's MVP to date because of his efficiency. He's made 70.6 percent of his twos and he's the only post player in the country that ranks in the top 40 for offensive rating who uses at least 18 percent of his team's possessions when he's on the court.

    Essentially, his efficiency numbers are that of a guy who gets wide open layups delivered on a platter. Ellis, however, is doing a majority of his scoring beating his man off post-ups.

7. Julius Randle, Kentucky

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats (6 games): 19.8 PPG, 13.7 RPG, 0.8 BPG

    Julius Randle and Kentucky had an off night against Cleveland State on Monday and nearly got knocked off at Rupp. Randle and the baby 'Cats are still a work in progress, and as dominant as Randle has been, he's also had his freshman moments. He had the eight turnovers against Michigan State and had another five on Monday.

    Randle also made only 3-of-10 shots. It was his worst performance of the year. And you know a guy is pretty special when he goes for 15 points and 15 rebounds, and that's his worst performance of the year.

6. Marcus Paige, North Carolina

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats (5 games): 22.4 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.8 RPG, 1.4 SPG

    Marcus Paige was brilliant for North Carolina in its win against Louisville. He scored 32 points and not once did it seem like he was forcing unwarranted shots.

    Paige wasn't supposed to play this role as UNC's go-to scorer—P.J. Hairston was—yet Paige has been better than anyone could have expected sliding over from point guard to a scoring 2-guard.

5. Jahii Carson, Arizona State

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    Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats (6 games): 23.0 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.2 RPG, 1.0 SPG

    Stats guru Ken Pomeroy lists player comparisons on each player page on his site that are based off the advanced numbers of each individual player.

    The first three names under Jahii Carson's 2013-14 numbers are former Michigan point guard Trey Burke, former Texas point guard D.J. Augustin and former South Dakota State point guard Nate Wolters. That's a National Player of the Year, a first-team All-American (Augustin) and a third-team All-American (Wolters) from a small school who has been one of the best rookies in the NBA this year. Nice company.

4. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Stats: (6 games): 15.0, 5.9 APG, 7.6 RPG, 1.7 SPG

    In Connecticut's game against Indiana last Friday night, Shabazz Napier did not have one teammate score in double figures and had only one teammate make at least half of his shots. And his team still won.

    Napier went for 27 points and made 10 of his 14 shots in the one-point win at Madison Square Garden. He carried the Huskies. So he gets a pass for what was his worst performance of the season on Tuesday, scoring only four points in a win against Loyola (MD).

    And even on an off-shooting night, he still contributed seven assists, seven rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

3. Doug McDermott, Creighton

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    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Stats (4 games): 27.5 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.5 SPG

    Doug McDermott had another game that would be a career night for most guys in his one game in the last week, going for 33 points and 15 rebounds against Tulsa. That doesn't even raise an eyebrow coming from McDermott.

    His 15 boards were the most he's had in a game since his freshman season and the most rebounds he's ever had in a win. As for his scoring, that's just the usual McDermott night.

2. Jabari Parker, Duke

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    Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats (6 games): 23.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.8 BPG, 1.3 SPG

    According to ESPN Stats & Info, Jabari Parker is the third freshman in the last decade to score at least 20 points in his first six games, joining Kevin Durant and Eric Gordon. So Parker's start is impressive, but not unprecedented.

    Only how Parker got here is pretty special and better than what Durant did through six games and almost equal to Gordon.

    Durant averaged less through six games (22.3 ppg) and had an effective field goal percentage of 56.5 percent compared to 65.9 percent for Parker.

    Gordon, somewhat surprisingly since he wasn't able to maintain this pace, averaged more points (27.3 ppg) and his effective field goal percentage was identical to Parker's. Also of note, both Durant and Gordon's streak ended at seven.

1. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

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    Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Stats (5 games): 21.0 PPG, 3.6 APG, 4.0 RPG, 4.2 SPG

    Marcus Smart followed up his 39-point performance against Memphis with 25 points, four assists and four steals against South Florida. Yep, the dude is slacking.

    Smart's scoring numbers are what's going to get him the Player of the Year love, but he should be in the conversation no matter what he does on offense because of his dominant defense.

    Not sure if he can keep pace with his current steals average—he did average 3.0 thefts per game last year—but if he stays over four per game, he'd become just the 12th player ever in college basketball to do so, according to the NCAA record book.

    Follow C.J. on Twitter @cjmoore4.