Former NBA Head Coach Believes Gonzaga Bulldogs Player Deserves National Player of the Year over Luka Garza and Cade Cunningham

Published 03/25/2021, 4:00 PM EDT
Mar 22, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes center Luka Garza (55) reacts after a play against the Oregon Ducks during the first half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


The Gonzaga Bulldogs seem on their way to an unbeaten NCAA title. While this year’s March Madness has been the year of upsets, the #1 seeded Gonzaga have kept their perfect record intact two rounds into the tournament. However, the underdog energy this year is stronger than it has been before.

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But there are titles for the Bulldogs based on their regular-season play. One individual title will be the Naismith Player of the Year trophy, which former NBA Head Coach Avery Johnson believes should go to Corey Kispert and not Luka Garza or Cade Cunningham.

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“It is Corey Kispert. With all due respect to guys like Cade Cunningham and Luka Garza, Kispert has just been unbelievable this year. The best player, in my opinion, on the best team.

“Obviously, Drew Timme and Suggs are outstanding players, but this is the purest shooter in the country. I haven’t seen a guy shoot the ball as effortlessly as Kispert. He is much better off the ball, but it almost seems like when he is shooting the basketball, he is shooting into the ocean and not a basketball hoop.

“This kid is just pure, love watching him play and I think he will have his name called as Naismith Player of the Year.”

Gonzaga Bulldogs: Do they have the National Player of the Year on their team?

The Gonzaga Bulldogs went undefeated this season. That is no easy feat, and one of the rarest team accomplishments in the history of NCAA basketball. How can the best player in the NCAA not be on their team? Well, it is because Mark Few has such a good system that there are three players that could win the trophy.

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Mar 22, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert (24) reacts after making a three point basket against the Oklahoma Sooners during the first half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

However, it is because of that that no Gonzaga player will have the trophy. Jalen Suggs, Drew Timme, and Kispert all take votes away from each other. However, Cade Cunningham led his team to unlikely status as a top-15 team in the nation, whereas Luka Garza put up historic numbers.

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It looks like the trophy is headed Garza’s way, but Kispert shouldn’t be dismissed. His candidacy is real and could provide a surprise when the time comes to announce a winner.

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Ishaan Bhattacharya

1510 articles

Ishaan Bhattacharya is an NBA, NCAA Basketball, and Combat Sports writer at EssentiallySports. Currently, Ishaan is pursuing a Post Graduate Degree in Journalism from Xavier's Institute of Communication. Previously, Ishaan has written for The Indian Express, The Quint, Sportskeeda, and WrestleClub.

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