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Kentucky Star Towns Favored For Final Four Most Outstanding Player
The last time Kentucky won the national title, it was led by a freshman big man, Anthony Davis, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four and would then be drafted No. 1 overall later that summer. Could history repeat itself? At Bovada, Kentucky freshman big man Karl-Anthony Towns is the 3/1 favorite to win Final Four MOP, not a surprise considering he's the top NBA prospect on UK, which remains the heavy tournament favorite to cut down the nets in Indianapolis.
Towns Dominated Irish
It's likely that either Towns or Duke's Jahlil Okafor will go No. 1 in this year's NBA draft so how fitting would it be if Duke and Kentucky square off for the title? Seen as a top-five NBA draft pick all season, Towns' NCAA Tournament display vaulted him to No. 1 on Monday in the eyes of two top analysts. Both ESPN's Chad Ford and DraftExpress.com now list the 6-foot-11 UK freshman, with his lethal hook shot, as the projected top pick ahead of Okafor. If the mock drafts hold up, Towns, who averages 10.1 points and 6.1 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game, would join solid company. John Wall (2010) and Davis (2012) also went as No. 1 picks out of UK after coaching from John Calipari.
UK wouldn't have beaten Notre Dame in a fantastic Elite Eight game without Towns. Here is Towns' stat line from Saturday night: 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting, 5-for-6 on free throws, five rebounds, four assists, two steals. Seventeen points came in the second half.
"Karl was tremendous," Calipari said. "He was unbelievable. By the time this season winds down, I want people to look and say, 'Wow, a big man can make free throws, can score around the basket, can play pick-and-roll defense, block shots. That's what you want, and I'll tell you, he's the greatest kid. He's a great kid, really is."
The offense went through Towns in the second half, and he proved too strong for the Fighting Irish, who couldn't stop him close to the basket.
"I just did a better job of getting better position," Towns said via the New York Post. "In the second half, I just trusted what the coaching staff told me, and I guess the results speak for themselves. I felt very confident in myself and just made confident moves."
Don't Sleep on Cauley-Stein
The second favorite at 4/1 for the award is Kentucky's other star big man, Willie Cauley-Stein. He was rather quite against the Irish with six points and four rebounds. Cauley-Stein also will be a first-round pick this summer if he comes out but he's limited offensively.
Duke's Okafor is 5/1 to win the award, with freshman teammate Justise Winslow at 5/1 as well. Winslow's NBA stock has really gone up of late. Kentucky's Aaron Harrison (7/1), Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky (8/1) and Sam Dekker (8/1), and Michigan State's Travis Trice (12/1), Denzel Valentine (16/1) and Branden Dawson (20/1) are the other betting options. Kaminsky is the national player of the year but Dekker has been the Badgers' best player in this tournament so far.
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