Column - KJ deserves to be Big East POY
Published: Monday, March 5, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 6, 2012 07:03
Kevin Jones has done a lot of things this year that not many players have accomplished.
He's just the third player in Big East Conference history to lead the league in both scoring and rebounding in the same season, joining former Notre Dame forwards Troy Murphy and Luke Harangody (both former Big East Players of the Year).
Jones is the only player in the country to average 20 points and 10 rebounds per game this season.
He has 20 double-doubles and hasn't scored less than 10 points since the Mountaineers' NCAA tournament loss to Kentucky last season, and during Big East play he had a streak of nine 20-point games in a row – which is second to Jerry West and "Hot Rod" Hundley.
Yet, when the Big East Player of the Year award is announced later today, there are some who have argued that Jones shouldn't be the one to receive it.
I just don't get it.
In a season where West Virginia has been desperately trying to find some kind of consistency, Jones has been the one constant. It didn't matter who the opponent was, Jones came to play every single night and often picked up the slack for his other teammates who were struggling.
Actually, Jones usually played better as the competition got better in his final season.
In West Virginia's eight games against ranked teams this season, Jones has averaged 20.5 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Against those teams he's scored at least 20 points six times and has four double-doubles.
The one player who it looks like could win the award over Jones is Marquette senior Jae Crowder. The forward was the only player named a unanimous all-Big East selection.
While Crowder has easily been one of the best players in the league and is a huge reason that the Golden Eagles have been as good as they have been this season, I'm just not sure the season that he's had is comparable to what Jones has done with WVU this season.
They play similar games. Jones and Crowder are both big forwards who can do a lot of damage in the paint as well as step outside and hit midrange jumpers with ease. Crowder holds an edge in athleticism, Jones is the superior rebounder.
But, in my mind, the biggest difference comes down to how important each player is to his team.
Let's look at what Marquette has other than Crowder. The Golden Eagles are lucky enough to have another first team all-Big East pick playing alongside Crowder in senior guard Darius Johnson-Odom. Johnson-Odom is averaging more than 18 points per game and helps to take a lot of pressure off Crowder.
If Crowder's off one night, Marquette can still find ways to win with the supporting cast it has around him.
I don't think the same can be said about the West Virginia team.
Sure, the Mountaineers have third team all-Big East pick Truck Bryant, but there hasn't been a consistent second option that West Virginia can turn to.
Bryant and junior forward Deniz Kilicli have been so up and down this season when it comes to scoring the basketball that, if Jones isn't making shots, it doesn't look like the Mountaineers have a good chance of winning games.
That's the biggest factor, I think. Take away Crowder from Marquette and it would still be an NCAA tournament team.
Take away Jones from West Virginia and the Mountaineers would be fighting for a chance to play in the NIT.
Both players are very deserving of the honor. Both have things in their favor.
Jones has been the consistent player who leads the league in scoring and rebounding. Crowder is the catalyst to one of the best teams in the conference.
But, I tend to agree with something that WVU head coach Bob Huggins has been saying all season; KJ deserves to win Player of the Year and there's something wrong if he doesn't win it.