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Andy Wittry | NCAA.com | February 15, 2022

The top 10 men's basketball national player of the year candidates, ranked

Top 10 Player of the Year candidates, right now, in men's basketball

Katz also ranked his top 10 national player of the year candidates, as of right now.

Click or tap here to listen to the latest episode of the #MM365 podcast.

Here are Andy Katz's top 10 men's basketball national player of the year candidates right now, ranked.

1. Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky

On Monday, Tshiebwe was named NCAA.com's men's basketball player of the week by Katz after he posted a 27-point, 19-rebound double-double in a win over Florida on Saturday. Through Feb. 14, he's the country's leading rebounder at 15.3 rebounds per game — 2.2 more per game than the country's second-leading rebounder — while he's also averaging a career-high 16.4 points per game.

"His numbers are ridiculous and that's why I firmly believe he, right now, is the national player of the year," Katz said on the podcast.

Kentucky is ranked No. 4 in the latest AP poll after a 21-4 start to the season.

2. Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

"The only reason the Badgers are in contention for the Big Ten title is because of Johnny Davis," Katz said.

Davis ranks 16th nationally in scoring, through Feb. 14, at 20.3 points per game, in addition to 8.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He has scored in double figures in 21 of Wisconsin's first 22 games, including 13 20-point games. After Monday, Wisconsin is in third place in the Big Ten, one game behind Illinois and a half-game behind Purdue.

3. Ochai Agbaji, Kansas

Kansas has a one-game lead over Baylor in the Big 12 standings, through Feb. 14, and Agbaji leads the team with 19.9 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent inside the arc and 43 percent from behind it.

He's scored at least 11 points in every game he's played in this season.

LATEST RANKINGS: AP Top 25 poll | NET rankings | Andy Katz's Power 36

4. Kofi Cockburn, Illinois

"Kofi, when he's on, when's he's healthy, (a) dominating presence," Katz said. "Absolutely just dominating."

Through Feb. 14, Cockburn ranks eighth nationally in scoring at 21.5 points per game and fifth in rebounding at 11.4 per game. He has Illinois in first place in the conference and he has 13 double-doubles in 19 games this season.

5. EJ Liddell, Ohio State

"He's playing like a first-team All-American," Katz said.

Liddell does it all for Ohio State. He averages nearly 10 more points per game than the Buckeyes' second-leading scorer (20.1 points per game, compared to Malaki Branham's 10.7), he's their leading rebounder (7.5. per game) and he also averages nearly three assists and 2.5 blocks per game.

6. Keegan Murray, Iowa

"Ridiculous numbers for Iowa," Katz said.

Murray ranks third nationally in scoring at 23.3 points per game to go along with 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He has reached the 30-point mark in his last two games (37 against Nebraska and 30 against Maryland), and he has four 20-plus-point performances in a row.

7. Jabari Smith, Auburn

Smith helped Auburn reach No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time in program history and the Tigers stayed there for three weeks, before losing in overtime at Arkansas. The smooth, 6-foot-10 forward leads the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game, while shooting roughly 40 percent from three on five attempts  per game.

"Now, his numbers have not been like crazy," Katz said, "but his ability to alter shots, to force opposing teams to cover him in a variety of ways has basically ensured that Auburn is going to be near the top of the SEC and in the country."

8. Drew Timme, Gonzaga

Through Feb. 14, Gonzaga has won 14 games in a row, with its last loss coming to Alabama on Dec. 4, and since then, the Zags have jumped out to a 10-0 start in WCC play while absolutely dominating their conference competition. Timme is a major reason why. His 17.7 points per game lead the team and he's the second-leading rebounder at 6.2 boards per game for a Bulldogs team that's in contention for another No. 1 seed.

"Timme has been as consistent as anyone," Katz said. "You can make an argument for first-team All-American."

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9. Jaden Ivey, Purdue

"Ivey's had player of the year moments," Katz said. "The way he finished off their game against Ohio State with the buzzer-beater and then Sunday, helping them come back against Maryland."

On a team with several players worthy of potential individual honors, it's Ivey who leads the team in scoring at 17.4 points per game, while scoring efficiently, making 52 percent of his 2-point attempts and 40 percent of his 3-pointers. Purdue's offense ranks No. 1 in efficiency nationally, according to kenpom.com, and Ivey is the engine that makes the Boilermakers go.

10. Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona

In coach Tommy Lloyd's first-ever season as a head coach, Arizona is in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament as the Wildcats are off to a 22-2 start, with Mathurin averaging 17.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game for a Wildcats squad that has a three-game lead in the loss column in the Pac-12 standings.

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