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Original Issue

Flying Start

No one is running away with the 2017 player of the year award, but this quintet is setting the pace in a race that figures to be one of the tightest ever

Josh Hart6'5" senior guard, Villanova(20.3 ppg)

He does it all for the nation's top-ranked team (6.8 rebounds per game, 3.5 assists), and his performance in the 74--66 win over Notre Dame on Dec. 10—37 points on 14 shots—was one of the best this season.

Frank Mason III5'11" senior guard, Kansas(19.8 ppg)

Other players are scoring much more, but when the game is on the line, there is no one more fearsome than Mason, who has hit one of the season's signature shots: a dagger to beat Duke on Nov. 15.

Luke Kennard6'6" sophomore guard, Duke(21.4 ppg)

Perhaps the most surprising addition to the player-of-the-year discussion, Kennard has been a steady presence for the turmoil-plagued Blue Devils, scoring 20 or more points eight times.

Lonzo Ball6'6" freshman guard, UCLA(14.3 ppg)

There's a new wizard in Westwood. Ball is the engine driving the nation's most efficient—and enthralling—offense, dishing out 8.1 assists (second in the nation) and grabbing 5.7 rebounds.

Malik Monk,6'3" freshman guard, Kentucky(22.4 ppg)

One of the most exciting ballhandlers in the open floor, Monk vaulted into the top five by scoring a Wildcats freshman-record 47 points in a 103--100 victory over North Carolina on Dec. 17.