While this college basketball season has lacked consistently elite teams, it doesn't mean there have not been plenty of memorable individual performances.
In fact, while some freshmen like Ben Simmons have shined, seniors have stolen the show, with several veterans leading the charge for national honors, led by Oklahoma's Buddy Hield and Michigan State's Denzel Valentine.
As Championship Week gets underway and Selection Sunday looms, it's time to crown the best individuals of the 2015-16 regular season.
National Player of the Year: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
Last week, I wrote a case for Valentine as national player of the year. That argument still stands. But in what could be a coin flip, the slight edge goes to Hield as No. 1, with Valentine No. 1a.
In the future, when we look back at the 2015-16 regular season, who will have had the most memorable individual performance? The answer is Hield. He has been the best scorer in college basketball, a sharpshooter capable of making big shots in big moments and carrying the Sooners when needed. He enters the postseason ranked second nationally in scoring at 25.1 points per game. He is shooting 47.3 percent from 3-point range, 49.5 percent from the field and 89.3 percent from the free-throw line. He is also grabbing 5.5 rebounds per game, with 2.2 assists.
Hield scored 29 points against West Virginia's aggressive defense. He hit eight 3-pointers against Ben Simmons and LSU, while scoring 46 points at Kansas. As the best player in the nation's best conference -- thus playing one of the toughest schedules -- Hield has been required viewing for college basketball fans all season, and he has put Oklahoma in contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. If college basketball has anything close to a Steph Curry at the moment, it's this guy.
Coach of the Year: Bill Self, Kansas
Self didn't even earn official Big 12 coach of the year honors from the league's coaches, as that award went to Texas Tech's Tubby Smith. It's not that Smith wasn't deserving; the Red Raiders went from totally off the radar to a likely NCAA Tournament bid. Still, Texas Tech is a seventh-place team that went 9-9 in the conference. Self has won 12 straight Big 12 regular-season titles, and the Jayhawks ended the regular season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll despite not having a likely first-round pick in their rotation. He is the best coach in the Big 12. He is regularly one of the best coaches in the nation.
Coach of the year awards can be strange, as they are awarded to coaches who most exceed preseason media expectations. Meanwhile, Mike Krzyzewski hasn't been voted ACC coach of the year since 2000. Urban Meyer has one Big Ten regular-season football loss in four seasons and yet hasn't won Big Ten coach of the year. Nick Saban has won four national championships since his last national coach of the year award.
Self, to be fair, did earn the AP's vote for Big 12 coach of the year for the second year in a row and the fifth time since his streak started.
In a season lacking dominant teams, Kansas has gone 27-4 and rides an 11-game winning streak into the Big 12 tournament. It extended its conference title streak in one of the most competitive years ever for the conference, sweeping Oklahoma and also notching wins over Kentucky, West Virginia, Iowa State, Texas, Vanderbilt and Oregon State for a resume that makes the Jayhawks the strongest candidate for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Freshman of the Year: Ben Simmons, LSU
Perhaps no player on an NIT team has been more greatly scrutinized than Simmons. While Simmons should be playing in the NBA right now, the league's age restriction resulted in him going to LSU for one season before trying to become the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft. Things didn't go as planned, as LSU somehow got worse this season, going 18-13 after making the Big Dance last season.
Simmons' effort and disappearance in late-game situations have been questioned -- although some blame goes to coach Johnny Jones -- but it's hard to call this season a disappointment individually, given how ridiculous Simmons' numbers are. Remember, he's a 19-year-old freshman who is 6-foot-10. He averages 19.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game. He's shooting 56.1 percent from the field despite having a jump shot that needs a lot of work. He's good for a double-double nearly every game and often flirts with triple-doubles. Duke's Brandon Ingram and Kentucky's Jamal Murray have also been terrific out of a relatively weak freshman class, but nobody can match Simmons, despite all the issues that have followed LSU this year. He's the nation's top freshman.
Defensive Player of the Year: Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
It's a wide-open choice with no clear answer, as players like Providence guard Kris Dunn, Oregon State guard Gary Payton II, Villanova forward Daniel Ochefu and Purdue forward A.J. Hammons have strong cases. Brogdon deserves the recognition though. He's been the most valuable player in the ACC thanks to his contributions on both ends of the floor.
Virginia ranks seventh in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency, making opponents work for every basket. It's a great team defense, and Brogdon exemplifies it with intelligence, tenacity and versatility. He's not the quickest player, but he's always in the right place and can cover multiple positions.
Game of the Year: Kansas 109, Oklahoma 106
When the Jayhawks held off the Sooners in triple-OT at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 4, the race for this honor was declared finished. There was just no way that college basketball could top what happened on that Monday night in Lawrence in the regular season, and it's unlikely that a postseason game will either. Sure, there could be a more dramatic ending with a buzzer-beater, but this was the best all-around game from start to finish, one of the best college basketball games in recent memory.
Kansas won despite Buddy Hield's 46 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, with Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden and Devonte' Graham all scoring more than 20 points. The showdown lived up to the any and all hype associated with a matchup of teams ranked No. 1 and 2 at the time.
Buzzer-Beater of the Year: Colgate beats Loyola (Md.) from midcourt
The stakes may not have been high nationally -- these are two subpar Patriot League teams, after all -- and this will undoubtedly be topped by a March Madness buzzer-beater that results in a team advancing in tournament play. Still, college basketball is a big sport, with 351 Division I teams, and the best moments can be found in very random places. Even in front of an announced crowd of 943 fans at Cotterell Court in Hamilton, N.Y., on Feb. 21.
In overtime, Colgate made a free throw to go ahead by three points with 10 seconds left. Loyola's Andre Walker pushed the ball up the court and began making a move toward the basket, before thinking better of it, stepping back and shooting a 3-pointer. He made it from the top of the key, tying the game with four seconds left. That was plenty of time for the Raiders.
Senior Austin Tillotson, on Senior Day, quickly took the ball the other way and jumped from behind the half-court line, with the ball sailing through the net as time expired to give Colgate the 93-90 win.
Dunk of the Year: Kerwin Roach, Texas
Dec. 1 wasn't the finest night for Texas, although the Longhorns did manage to pull out an 80-73 win in overtime against a solid UT Arlington team that previously beat Ohio State and Memphis. But that night is memorable for what Roach did.
Goodness gracious --— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 2, 2015
Let Kerwin Roach's FILTHY dunk wake you up from your early morning slumber... pic.twitter.com/N3yMfXXbYH
The 6-foot-4 freshman has had a stellar debut season, and he has repeatedly made highlight-reel dunks. None was more memorable than what he did to the Mavericks.
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First Team All-America
G: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma. The nation's most dangerous scorer and two-time Big 12 player of the year, Hield is scoring 25.1 points per game and shooting 47.3 percent from 3-point range, 49.5 percent from the field and 89.3 percent from the free-throw line. He can create and hit shots that nobody else in college basketball can make.
G: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State. The Spartans' senior jack-of-all-trades guard leads the Big Ten in scoring (19.6) and assists (7.5) and ranks seventh in rebounding (7.5) despite being 6-foot-5.
G: Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia. The senior is an all-around star for the Cavaliers, an efficient player on offense and defense. Despite Virginia's slow tempo, he averages 18.4 points per game, as he has developed into an excellent shooter, on top of his great passing and defense.
F: Brice Johnson, North Carolina. The Tar Heels have struggled to shoot from the outside, but Johnson has often been there to clean up. He averages 16.8 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, and he's shooting 60.6 percent from the field.
C: Jakob Poeltl, Utah. The 7-footer returned for a second college season and has been nearly automatic in the post for the Utes. He's putting up 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game while shooting 66 percent from the field.
Second Team All-America
G: Tyler Ulis, Kentucky. The 5-foot-9 sophomore plays bigger and older than his height and experience level. John Calipari's coach on the floor, Ulis is a fearless, lightning-quick table-setter who has occasionally put the Wildcats on his back. He averages 16.6 points, 7.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
G: Grayson Allen, Duke. Duke lacks depth and great defense, and Allen has often been there to bail the Blue Devils out -- even if he's making many enemies, like other great Duke players of the past. For one of the best offenses in the country, Allen has proven to be effective both shooting from long range and attacking the basket, allowing him to average 21.5 points per game.
G/F: Josh Hart, Villanova. The 6-foot-5 senior has gone from ace sixth man to player of the year candidate. He has a knack for getting to the basket, and he averages 15.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while proving to be a key cog in one of the nation's best defenses.
F: Ben Simmons, LSU. Quibble with the team results all you want, but 19.6 points, 11.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 assists per game is ridiculous for a 6-foot-10 freshman.
F: Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa. While Iowa stumbled down the stretch, it has still had an excellent season behind the emerge of Uthoff as a star. The Hawkeyes' 6-foot-9 senior stretch-four is scoring 18.8 points per game while shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.
Third Team All-America
G: Kris Dunn, Providence. Dunn fills stat sheets like few others as the Friars' point guard, as he averages 16.3 points, 6.4 assist, 5.7 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game. He's a creator on offense and one of the nation's best defenders.
G: Yogi Ferrell, Indiana. A mainstay in Tom Crean's lineup the last four years, Ferrell led the Hoosiers to the Big Ten regular-season title, putting up 17.1 points, 5.5 assist and 3.9 rebounds per game for one of the nation's best offenses.
G: Kay Felder, Oakland. Forget the level of play in the Horizon League. Felder is a star. The 5-foot-9 junior has dazzled all season, with 24.4 points, 9.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. He's fifth in the nation in scoring and first in assists.
F: Georges Niang, Iowa State. The 6-foot-8 Niang has been such a valuable all-around player for the Cyclones. The versatile senior can play anywhere and do just about anything, and this season he's averaged 19.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.
F: Perry Ellis, Kansas. The senior leader of the No. 1 Jayhawks, Ellis has had his best season yet, with 16.5 points and 6.0 rebounds as the closet thing to a centerpiece for this balanced lineup.
G: Jamal Murray, Kentucky. Murray has been phenomenal in SEC play as Ulis' backcourt mate. He has scored at least 20 points in 10 straight games, and overall he averages 20 points per game while shooting 42.1 percent from beyond the arc.
G/F: Brandon Ingram, Duke. The lanky 6-foot-9 wing is a terrific athlete and good shooter who can be a matchup nightmare. He's scoring 16.7 points per game and grabbing 6.8 rebounds despite a lack of bulk.
F: Jaylen Brown, California. A five-star recruit and likely lottery pick, Brown has helped fuel a terrific for the season for the tournament-bound Golden Bears, as a terrific athlete who averages 15.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
F: Ben Simmons, LSU. See previous analysis. He has flaws, but again, let's not be overly critical.
F: Henry Ellenson, Marquette. The Golden Eagles have had a mediocre season, but the 6-foot-11 Ellenson has been a huge bright spot, as he averages nearly a double-double with 16.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.