The 2015-16 college basketball season has produced some big performances from talented three men. Today, the finalists were announced for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award, including a few of the brightest stars of tomorrow:
Roosevelt Jones (Sr., Butler)
Team Record: 15-7 (4-6) | Avg. 14.7 points/game, 6.7 rebounds/game, 4.6 assists/game
- Though Jones stands at only 6’4, he’s one of the toughest wings in the nation, tallying double-digit rebounds in 6 contests. He shoots an efficient 50% from the field by attacking the rim with ferocity.
Wayne Selden Jr. (Jr., Kansas)
Team Record: 17-4 (5-3) | Avg. 15.4 points/game, 3.4 rebounds/game, 2.6 assists/game
- Thrust into the starting small forward spot with the emergence of Devonte’ Graham, Selden Jr. is having is best year yet, averaging career-highs in points and rebounds. Wayne is knocking on the door of the first round (if he declares for the 2016 Draft) and has Kansas in the mix to capture their 12th straight Big 12 title.
Damion Lee (Sr., Louisville)
Team Record: 18-4 (7-2) | Avg. 17 points/game, 3.9 rebounds/game, 1.9 assists/game
- A graduate transfer from Drexel, Damion Lee is getting plenty of buckets for Coach Rick Pitino and the Cards (leads team in scoring at 17 ppg). He’s had some big nights v. UK (27 points) & Va. Tech (29, 6, and 5) this season.
DeAndre’ Bembry (Jr., Saint Joseph’s)
Team Record: 18-3 (7-1) | Avg. 16.9 points/game, 8 rebounds/game
- Saint Joe’s is flying under the radar but it’s time to take notice of Bembry’s talent – a “dirty work” small forward, who can play inside and out, with a game much bigger than his size (6’6).
Dillon Brooks (So., Oregon)
Team Record: 18-4 (7-2) | Avg. 16.6 points/game, 6.2 rebounds/game, 3 assists/game
- The Ducks are atop the Pac-12 and Brooks is a huge reason why. He’s been aggressive in wins over Stanford (15, 10 & 7), UCLA (25 & 7) & Arizona (24 points). Brooks is a dark horse candidate for the award as Oregon continues to rise.
Nigel Hayes (Jr., Wisconsin)
Team Record: 13-9 (5-4) | Avg. 17 points/game, 6 rebounds/game, 3.5 assists/game
- Wisconsin’s underperformed at 13-9 but Nigel Hayes has maintained his strong play (avg. 22 points/game) during their recent, 4-game winning streak over Michigan State, Penn State, Indiana and Illinois.
Trevon Bluiett (Xavier)
Team Record: 19-2 (7-1) | Avg. 15.4 points/game, 6.6 rebounds/game
- Trevon Bluiett is the driving force behind Xavier’s hot start and stabilizes everything for the nation’s 6th-ranked squad. The model of consistency, Bluiett has reached double-digit scoring in 20 of 21 games.
Brandon Ingram (Fr., Duke)
Team Record: 15-7 (4-6) | Avg. 16.6 points/game, 5.4 rebounds/game
- Brandon Ingram, a flat-out stud likened to a young Kevin Durant, is a tall 3 man (6’9) with a delicate, outside touch. A matchup nightmare waiting to happen, Ingram needs to utilize skills on the defensive end for Duke to bounce back in the standings.
Denzel Valentine (Sr., Michigan State)
Team Record: 19-4 (6-4) | Avg. 18.5 points/game, 7.8 rebounds/game, 6.6 assists/game
- Denzel Valentine isn’t a prototypical small forward by any means but fulfills whatever role is necessary for Tom Izzo. Though Sparty has struggled in conference play, Valentine is rocketing up draft boards by constantly displaying a versatile skill set (triple-doubles v. KU & BC) unmatched by few in college basketball this season.
Ben Simmons (Fr., LSU)
Team Record: 14-8 (7-2) | Avg. 19.5 points/game, 12.5 rebounds/game, 5 assists/game
- One of the most dominating forwards around, this year’s Julius Erving award is his to lose. Simmons’s Tigers are right behind Texas A&M in the SEC and he’s starting to get teammates like Tim Quarterman more and more involved. Ben’s key game was an incredible 43-point, 14-rebound and 7-assist performance v. North Florida…and get this, he’s STILL a little too passive at times!
Who will come away with the award? Let us know in the comments below or on twitter @dofgamesports!