The Top 5 Players To Bet To Win The College Hoops Player Of The Year Award

The diehard college hoops fans have been tuning in since the season first tipped off last month, but now that the calendar has turned to December, and many teams are wrapping up their non-conference schedules and are getting ready to jump into league play, the time is right to start taking a look at various future’s bets as the general public starts to pay attention.

In this article, we are going to highlight 5 players that you are going to want to bet on to win the National Player of the Year Award this year. With that, let’s jump right into it with the top 5 players to bet to win the college hoops player of the year award! Let’s get started!

Drew Timme – Gonzaga Bulldogs (+550)

Gonzaga Bulldogs big man Drew Timme came into this season as the odds-on favorite to win the National Player of the Year Award, and while his stats are down slightly from last season when he nearly took home college hoops top honors, he is still having a fantastic season, that should only get better as the season wears on. Timme is a monster in the paint for the Zags, and if he can lead Mark Few’s team to their first-ever national title after losing in the national finals last year, Timme is a mortal lock to take home NPOY.

The stat line for Timme is impressive with 18.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists a game, and when you see that Gonzaga has already played 4 top-10 teams this season, Timme has gotten the job done against elite competition. The Bulldogs play in the West Coast Conference, and while the WCC is a mid-major league, they currently have 4 teams in the top-40 on Kenpom, so Timme and his Zags are going to have some solid competition.

That being said, there are still some awful teams in the WCC where Timme and company are going to be able to run up the score and pad their stats. Teams like Portland, Pepperdine, and San Diego just won’t have an answer for a guy like Drew Timme, so don’t be surprised if we see the “Flexin Texan” post some gaudy stats before the season is over.

To win the award, you always want to have at least one big memorable performance on your resume, and Timme already has one of those, as he dropped 37 points on 15-19 shooting from the field against a top-5 ranked Texas Longhorns team earlier this season. Timme is easily the nation’s most notable player as you either love him or love to hate him, and right now, he is my pick to win the award, and he shows significant value at +550.

Paolo Banchero – Duke Blue Devils (+450)

While Drew Timme is probably the best college basketball player in the country right now, Duke’s Paolo Banchero is the best NBA prospect and currently projects out as the top draft pick in next year’s NBA draft. This guy has size and athleticism, and he can do it all on the basketball court. Banchero’s big moment came in the upset victory over then top-ranked Gonzaga, when Banchero torched the Zags for 21 points.

19 of those points came in the first half, as the Zags had no answer for the silky-smooth shooting big man. It seems that the only thing that can slow Banchero down is his body, as he has a medical condition that causes him to sweat profusely, which has, at times, led to cramps that has cost him minutes. Banchero missed significant minutes in the second half against Gonzaga with cramps, and they again reared their ugly head in the Blue Devils’ loss to Ohio State.

Banchero has the body of a post player at 6-10 250 pounds, but he prefers to play out in space, and he isn’t afraid to shoot the 3 either, as he is shooting 33% from beyond the arc, which is more than receptacle for a big.

Normally, playing in the ACC is a big boost to a player’s chances to win NPOY, as the competition is high level, and you get plenty of media attention. But this year, that might actually be working against Banchero, as the Blue Devils are currently the only team ranked from the ACC, which honestly is one of the craziest things about this season so far that nobody is talking about.

Most of the time, the most talented player doesn’t win the NPOY award. It generally goes to guys like Luka Garza, Jalen Brunson, and Frank Mason, guys that are great at the college level but aren’t going to be lottery pick type of players on the next level. That isn’t always the case, as Obi Toppin won the award a couple of years back, and Zion Williamson took home the award before him, but being the top draft prospect doesn’t always equate to being enshrined into college basketball’s most exclusive fraternity.

Johnny Juzang – UCLA Bruins (+2000)

Last year, the UCLA Bruins seemingly came out of nowhere to shock the world when they made a run to the Final Four after entering the tournament as an 11-seed. The Bruins went from a First Four game to the Final Four last year, and this year, they brought everyone back, including superstar Johnny Juzang, and to put it modestly, the Bruins aren’t going to be sneaking up on anybody this year after coming in at #2 in the preseason AP Poll.

Juzang would have been a lottery pick had he chosen to leave school after last season, but instead, he decided to head back to Westwood, and the minute he made that announcement, he become one of the favorites to win this award. Juzang is a shoot-first guard that can create his own shot and score the basketball from anywhere that he wants.

The only real thing I see hurting his chances to lock up the Wooden Award is that similar to Drew Timme at Gonzaga, the Bruins are loaded, and he isn’t always going to need to be the alpha male for UCLA, as they have other studs like Jaime Vaquez and Tyger Campbell that can carry the team for stretches. Juzang was easily the best player in the NCAA tournament last season, and his performance against Villanova earlier this year put him firmly on the map, as he dropped 25 points and 8 boards while leading the Bruins to a thrilling come from behind victory in overtime over the top-5 ranked Wildcats.

Juzang walks the line between being an elite NBA prospect as well as being a really good college basketball player really well, and if the Bruins can put together another deep run in March, with Juzang again leading the way, he is going to get more than his fair share of votes. There are 10 players that have the same or better odds to win this award, and I am going to be completely honest here, I don’t know if there are 3 players in the country better than Juzang, so that discrepancy opens up a lot of value for a play on the UCLA superstar.

Kofi Cockburn – Illinois Fighting Illini (+2200)

Kofi Cockburn got wrapped up in an endorsement scandal in the offseason that cost him the first 3 games of the season, but since clearing up those issues and getting back on the floor, nobody has been able to stop the big man from Illinois. The fact that Cockburn is playing college hoops at all is a bit surprising as he seemed to be a lock to take his talents to the NBA after last season.

After flirting with the NBA, then entering the transfer portal, with the Kentucky Wildcats looking like his likely landing spot, the big man from Jamaica surprised everyone by making the decision to stay at Illinois, and Illini fans couldn’t have been happier. Cockburn has produced a double-double in all but one of his games, and his averages of 22.8 points and 11.8 rebounds per game has him as one of the top centers in the nation.

The Big 10 is a league that is known for having strong defense, and with their conference schedule starting earlier than most other conferences, Illinois has already played 2 league games this season. Cockburn quickly started his campaign for the Big 10 player of the year award after leading the Illini to a 2-0 record in conference play, averaging 15 points and 16 rebounds a game in wins over Iowa and Rutgers.

The 7-footer has gotten better in all aspects of his game, and at times he is completely unstoppable as there aren’t many guys that can match his physical size at the college level. The one area that Cockburn has been vastly improved, that I am sure is going to pay dividends in March, is at the free throw line. Last year, free throws were Cockburn’s Achillies Heel, as he shot just 55% from the charity stripe. This year he is shooting over 71% and is getting to the line 8 times a game.

It is hard not to compare Cockburn to last year’s winner Luka Garza from Iowa, as they play a similar game, and they both played in the Big 10. Last year, Garza went for 24 points and 9 boards a game enroot to wining the NPOY, and when you see what Cockburn is doing this year, his numbers compare very favorably to Garza’s. The Big 10 is a grind, and Cockburn is going to have to bring his best game with him every night to have a shot, but you can’t ignore his early-season production, and with 22-1 odds, I love a play on the Illinois monster in the middle.

Oscar Tshiebwe – Kentucky Wildcats (N/A)

I write this article every year. Last year, early in the season, I highlighted a guy that I felt was being ignored by the media and the sportsbooks. This guy was being so ignored, in fact, that by this time last year, you couldn’t even get a line to bet on them to win player of the year. That guy last year? Drew Timme from Gonzaga. This year, I see a similarly ignored superstar in the making in Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe.

Tshiebwe started his career at West Virginia but decided to leave Bob Huggins’s squad for greener pastures and transferred to Kentucky. After sitting out much of last season per NCAA rules, we finally got to see what Tshiebwe looks like with the Wildcats and all I can say is watch out! Tshiebwe leads the nation in rebounds per game at over 15 per contest, and he averages a double-double at 15 and 15.

Many people saw Kentucky as being a bit down this year in the loaded SEC, but with how Tshiebwe has looked leading the Wildcats to 7 consecutive wins since the opening night loss to Duke, you have to pencil in the Wildcats at or near the top of the SEC standings. Against Duke, despite being matched up with Paolo Banchero most of the game, Tshiebwe scored 17 points and pulled down 20 rebounds.

The schedule has been light for Kentucky since that opening game, so you have to take his stats with a bit of a grain of salt, but he has yet to have fewer than 10 rebounds in any game, and his only game that he didn’t have a double-double came in a blowout win over Ohio, where Kentucky didn’t need him to score.

If I had to compare Oscar Tshiebwe with a former winner of the Wooden Award, I would compare him to former Kentucky star Anthony Davis. Davis was an elite shot blocker and rebounder and played high-level D in his time in Lexington, and Tshiebwe brings it on both sides of the court as well, averaging nearly 2 blocks and a steal and a half a game.

Things are about to get tough for Kentucky, as their next 3 games come against top-50 teams in the non-conference before jumping into league play in the stacked SEC. If Oscar Tshiebwe can continue to dominate like he has so far this season, against better competition, not only are you going to see a line on him to win this award, he is quickly going to be one of the favorites. When you casual fans out there tune in for March Madness wondering who this animal for Kentucky is, remember, you heard it here at TheSportsGeek first!

Wrap Up

There is no better time than right now to make your plays on the national player of the year award, as these lines are only going to get sharper as the season goes on. If you want the highest value and the best odds, you need to lock in your action right now! Thanks for reading, and make sure that you swing by TheSportsGeek’s college basketball page, where our team of expert handicappers bring you free daily college hoops betting picks!

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Jason Gray / Author

Jason is a true Las Vegas insider as he has called the sports betting capital of the world his home for sixteen years. Jason started out his career in gaming by running the biggest poker tournaments in the world and managing some of the biggest sportsbooks on the strip. Jason has transitioned out of casino operations and has been covering sports betting for the sports geek for just over two years. His main focus is on baseball, college basketball, and the NFL

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