By Anthony Cullotta
My selection for the Most Outstanding Player Award is Texas Tech sophomore guard Jarrett Culver. He took a big step in his sophomore campaign and increased his season averages in almost every category. He jumped from 11.2 to 18.5 points per game and started in every game he played.
During the tournament, he averaged 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and almost five assists per game, including a 29-point performance in the opening round against Northern Kentucky.
The improvements have made Culver a projected top-five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and the success of his regular season carried over into the NCAA Tournament.
Culver has led the Red Raiders throughout the tournament by taking over late in games, helping out his teammates and even sacrificing personal success for the sake of the team.
Although he struggled to score against Michigan State in the Final Four, his ability and skill set forced Michigan State to focus their attention on him. This led to open opportunities for the rest of the Texas Tech team.
Culver’s teammate Matt Mooney took over the game and scored a game-high 22 points in a win to send Texas Tech into the championship against Virginia.
Though the stat sheet shows how good of a player he actually is, the intangibles of being a smart teammate led to Tech’s success.
Cameron may say Kyle Guy deserves the MOP but you can’t just measure success of a player just by the win column. Without Culver, Texas Tech wouldn’t have gone far in the tournament and that deserves some applause.
By Cameron Irwin
Remember the dreadful shooting that Kyle Guy had at the beginning of the NCAA Tournament? Yeah, neither does he.
A 25-point, 10-rebound performance against Purdue in the regional final and a 24-point shooting clinic in the NCAA National Championship win propelled Guy to be named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
In the regional final, Guy matched Purdue’s Carsen Edwards late in the game, as he rattled off clutch 3-pointers to keep Virginia alive.
Guy hit three free throws late in the Final Four game against Auburn to seal the victory for the Cavaliers. His calm attitude under pressure and true shooting form sent Virginia to their first championship appearance.
On the biggest stage, Guy shot 8-15 from the field, including four three-pointers and a perfect 4-4 from the free-throw line. On top of his shooting performance, he shut down Tech’s Davide Moretti on defense, who was heating up late in the second half.
The remarkable turnaround made by the Virginia program began with the junior. He improved his shooting percentage, points per game and rebounds per game from last year.
When Virginia needed him the most, he was there. For him, the bigger the stage, the bigger the performance.
Anthony may argue that Jarrett Culver is more deserving for MOP, but it’s all about who’s on top in the end that makes up the great players.