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Napheesa Collier Curiously Excluded From Naismith Trophy Finalist List

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What the hell?

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Hours after being left of the finalist list for the Naismith trophy, Napheesa Collier quietly put on another incredible performance in UConn’s opening game of the NCAA tournament. She had 23 points (on 9-15 shooting), 14 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks - a performance worthy of national player of the year conversations.

Collier has been putting on these type of performances all season long. She’s averaging a double-double, plus 3.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. She shoots over 65 percent from two-point range, scores 1.16 points per play, assists on 20 percent of her teammates’ field goals and collects 21 percent of available defensive rebounds while on the floor. Yet, somehow she still seems to fly under the radar.

So it’s extremely confusing why Collier wouldn’t be among the four finalists for the Naismith trophy: Megan Gustafson (Iowa), Sabrina Ionescu (Oregon), Asia Durr (Louisville), and Arike Ogunbowale (Notre Dame).

Outside of Gustafson, who leads all players with 28 points per game, the finalists and Collier all hover around an average of 20 to 21 points per game. Collier scores much more efficiently though, at 1.29 points per true shooting attempt on the season, which ranks in the top one percent in the country. Durr is the only other player of the group (again excluding Gustafson) that even ranks in the top 10 percent for scoring efficiency.

When she’s not finishing at the basket, Collier dishes out the assist on over 20 percent of her teammates’ made field goals. The only finalist with a higher assist rate is Ionescu. Gustafson is the only finalist that has her beat on rebounding and block rates, and Ogunbowale is the only one that has her beat on steal rate. Collier is the only one doing it all at such a high level.

In fact, she is one of just three players in the whole country averaging a double-double while being in the top 10 percent for both assists and blocks. She’s part of less than one percent of players who average a double-double, and part of the less than two percent of players who average over 15 points per game and rank in the top 10 percent for assists per game. Napheesa Collier is without a doubt one of, if not the most elite players in the country, making it rather shocking that she has been eliminated from contending for the award for the nation’s top player.