When Kris Dunn announced his intentions to pass on the NBA Draft and return to Providence, he was rightfully selected as the preseason Big East Player of the Year. Even though he split the actual award with Ryan Arcidiacono last year, even the most die-hard Villanova fan would have to acknowledge that Dunn is on another level as a basketball player.
His combination of size, speed, playmaking ability and defensive prowess is unmatched in the league and arguably in all of college basketball. It's why he's going to be a lottery pick in the NBA. He's every bit as good as advertised and deserves all the plaudits he gets.
Here's the thing about accolades though - the best players don't always win them. Josh Hart proved it this preseason when he wasn't voted to any of the preseason All-Big East teams despite winning 6th Man of the Year and Big East Tournament MVP last season.
Josh Hart is having the best season of his career, for the best team in the Big East which is currently on a historic 22-game conference winning streak. That stuff matters to voters, even if it shouldn't. To be fair to Dunn, Hart being on a better team absolutely helps his cause. But like Dunn has time and again, Hart has been putting Villanova on his back lately, and the national media is finally starting to notice the Wildcats unappreciated star.
Here's the raw statistics for both players thus far. It should be noted, this is for the full season and not conference-only because I'm not convinced that the coaches are throwing OOC play out the window when voting. And if you really want to look at conference-only stats, you'll see they actually get better for Hart while worse for Dunn.
Not much separating them, right? They play different positions which needs to be accounted for, and while Dunn has better 'sexy' stats like PPG and APG, they both best each other in different categories. It's extremely close.
For comparison's sake, take a look at KenPom's breakdown of the two players.
Hard to argue Dunn's value to his team when you look at these numbers. This really shows just how important he is - and the Friars are having a breakout season because of it. But Hart is very clearly a more efficient offensive player. He's been extremely lethal, even in a year when his 3P% has regressed and that's a credit to his work ethic to continue to develop his offensive arsenal.
FWIW, KenPom currently has Josh Hart 4th (and interestingly enough, Daniel Ochefu 5th) in his own National POY rankings. Kris Dunn isn't on the Top 10 list.
Bottom line, you could make the case for either player and you wouldn't be wrong. There's plenty of season left - we get our first head-to-head comparison on Saturday - but it's quite clear that Josh Hart has not only entered the race, he's pulled a Kool-Aid Man in to it. He's got a real shot, and it's exactly what he deserves after being snubbed in the preseason.