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Joe Boozell | | November 9, 2017

Bridges, Brunson lead Naismith Trophy watch list

  Sophomore forward Miles Bridges has a chance to lead Michigan State to a national title.

Frank Mason averaged 20.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists on his way to winning the 2017 Naismith Trophy.

There are several candidates, ranging from freshmen to seniors, who are in the mix to win the Naismith in 2018. With that in mind, here is the official 50-player preseason watch list:

Adams Jaylen  Senior Guard St. Bonaventure Atlantic 10 
Adel Deng  Junior Forward Louisville ACC
Alkins Rawle  Sophomore Guard Arizona Pac-12
Allen Grayson  Senior Guard Duke ACC
Allen KeVaughn  Junior Guard Florida SEC
Ayton Deandre Freshman Forward Arizona Pac-12
Bagley III Marvin  Freshman Forward Duke ACC
Bamba Mohamed  Freshman Forward Texas Big 12
Berry II Joel  Senior Guard UNC ACC
Bluiett Trevon  Senior Guard Xavier BIG EAST
Boatwright Bennie  Junior Forward USC Pac-12
Bridges Miles  Sophomore Guard/Forward Michigan State  Big Ten
Brown Bruce  Sophomore Guard Miami ACC
Brunson Jalen  Junior Guard Villanova BIG EAST
Carroll Jeffrey  Senior Guard Oklahoma State Big 12
Carter Jevon  Senior Guard West Virgina Big 12
Carter Jr. Wendell  Freshman Forward Duke ACC
Colson Bonzie  Senior Forward Notre Dame ACC
Daum Mike  Junior Forward South Dakota State Summit League 
Davis Tyler  Junior Center Texas A&M SEC
Delgado Angel  Senior Center Seton Hall BIG EAST
Diallo Hamidou  Freshman Guard Kentucky  SEC
Duval Trevon  Freshman Guard Duke ACC
Edwards Vince  Senior Forward Purdue Big Ten
Farrell Matt  Senior Guard Notre Dame ACC
Foster Marcus Senior Guard Creighton BIG EAST
Graham Devonte'  Senior Guard Kansas Big 12
Happ Ethan  Junior Forward Wisconsin Big Ten
Holiday Aaron  Junior Guard UCLA Pac-12
Hutchison Chandler Senior Guard Boise State Mountain West
Jackson Justin  Sophomore Forward Maryland Big Ten
Knox Kevin  Freshman Forward Kentucky  SEC
Landale Jock  Senior Center St. Mary's  WCC
Martin Kelan  Senior Forward Butler BIG EAST
Mason Nate  Senior Guard Minnesota Big Ten
Maten Yante  Senior Forward Georgia SEC
McIntosh Bryant  Senior Guard Northwestern Big Ten
McLaughlin Jordan  Senior Guard USC Pac-12
Metu Chimezie  Junior Forward USC Pac-12
Milton Shake  Junior Guard SMU American Athletic  
Newman Malik Sophomore Guard Kansas Big 12
Porter Jr.  Michael  Freshman Forward Missouri SEC
Sexton Collin Freshman Guard Alabama SEC
Shamet Landry  Sophomore Guard Wichita State American Athletic  
Travis Reid  Senior Forward Stanford Pac-12
Trier Allonzo  Junior Guard Arizona Pac-12
Wagner Moritz  Junior Forward Michigan   Big Ten
Ward Nick  Sophomore Forward Michigan State  Big Ten
Williams Robert  Sophomore Forward Texas A&M SEC
Williams Jonathan  Senior Forward Gonzaga WCC

The first name that jumps out is Bridges, who surprised many by returning to Michigan State for his sophomore season. As a freshman, the explosive hybrid forward averaged 16.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Oh, and he did stuff like this:

Bridges plays an electrifying brand of basketball and figures to be the best player on a national title contender. Michigan State is the No. 2 team in the preseason AP Top 25.

Another guy to keep an eye on is Villanova’s Brunson, who won a national championship as a freshman and had a breakout year as a sophomore. Brunson averaged 14.7 points and 4.1 assists last season, but did his best work in Big East play, shooting 56 percent from the floor in league games. Josh Hart, who was in contention for last year’s Naismith Trophy, is gone. The Wildcats are Brunson’s team now. He has a chance to burst onto the national radar.

As usual, there are some ultra-talented freshmen that could gain some steam this year. Missouri’s Michael Porter, Jr., Arizona’s Deandre Ayton and Duke’s Marvin Bagley are names that come to mind. All of these guys hope to become the third freshman listed on the Naismith Trophy, joining Kevin Durant (2007) and Anthony Davis (2012).

MORE: College hoops bold predictions

On the flip side, Mason was the fourth consecutive senior to win the award last year, following Doug McDermott, Frank Kaminsky and Buddy Hield. There are 21 seniors on the above list of 50. A few names that stand out: Duke’s Grayson Allen, North Carolina’s Joel Berry, and Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson.

The field will be trimmed to 30 players in mid-February, semifinalists in early March, and four finalists during the NCAA tournament. The award will then be presented at the Naismith Awards banquet during the Final Four. The players hope to join past winners such as Lew Alcindor (1969), Pete Maravich (1970), Bill Walton (1972-74), Larry Bird (1979), Ralph Sampson (1981-83), Michael Jordan (1984) and Danny Manning (1988).

OFFICIAL RELEASE: The Citizen Naismith Trophy Watch List Released

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