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College basketball: Top five player of the year candidates

Caitlin Clark (Joseph Cress/USA TODAY Sports)

As college basketball season continues, players are making their cases for the national player of the year awards.

While the plethora of talent makes narrowing the list difficult, Just Women’s Sports takes a look at five front-runners for the end-of-season honors.

Caitlin Clark, Iowa

27.8 PPG / 7.9 APG / 7.9 RPG / 46% FG

At this point, the Naismith Player of the Year award could be Clark’s to lose. After featuring heavily in the conversation last year, Clark is having an even better season this time around.

To give a rundown of everything Clark has done so far this year: She became the only player to put up at least 40 points against a ranked opponent twice this season. Her triple-double against then-No. 2 Ohio State put her in the same conversation as Dwyane Wade and Courtney Vandersloot. And she is the only player in Division I basketball history to have four triple-doubles with 25 or more points.

She’s also the only D-I player in the past 20 seasons to have four straight games of at least 20 points and 10 assists. Her points and assists both rank second in the country, and if last year wasn’t Clark’s year to win the POY award, this one certainly could be.

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina

12.9 PPG / 10.0 RPG / 60.1% FG

The reigning player of the year has dropped off a bit after her historic season in 2021-22. But she set the bar incredibly high.

That Boston has seen a dip in production as other players have stepped up for South Carolina isn’t unusual. But it also speaks to her leadership skills, as freshman Raven Johnson leads the team in assists and steals. Still, she’s one of just three players in this conversation averaging a double-double on the year.

Angel Reese, LSU

23.4 PPG / 15.5 RPG / 54.6% FG

The primary challenger to Clark’s player of the year bid appears to be Reese. The sophomore transfer has 22 double-doubles to start the season, which has coincided with LSU’s 22-0 start – the longest winning streak in program history. Her streak puts her just five back of the SEC record (set by Aliyah Boston last season), and she already has broken the LSU record set by Sylvia Fowles.

She also became the first SEC player to have at least 25 points and 25 rebounds in 20 seasons, putting up 26 points and an LSU record 28 rebounds in a win over Texas A&M in January.

Mackenzie Holmes, Indiana

22.3 PPG / 7.8 RPG / 69.2% FG

One of the most efficient shooters in the country, Holmes is a danger to her opponent anytime she steps on the court.

With six straight games of 20 or more points, Holmes has been a stalwart on an Indiana team currently ranked fourth in the country. Her average of 26.5 points per game over those contests is bolstered by the fact that three of those games were against ranked opponents: then-No. 21 Illinois, then-No. 13 Michigan and then-No. 2 Ohio State.

Aneesah Morrow, DePaul

25.4 PPG / 11.6 RPG / 41.9% FG

Aneesah Morrow is one of the best sophomores in the country, if not the best. And it doesn’t come as a surprise after she averaged 21.9 points and 13.8 rebounds per game as a freshman. With multiple games of 40-plus points this season, she’s building on a résumé that likely will make her a top WNBA draft pick. She’s second in the Big East in scoring and leads the conference in rebounding all while taking on a bigger role for the Blue Demons.