The Honest Coaches: Who Will Be the Best Men’s College Basketball Player in 2022-23?

Gary Parish and Matt Norlander of CBS Sports polled nearly 100 coaches in the annual Candid Coaches Series. They surveyed everyone from head coaches in elite programs to assistants at small Division 1 schools. In exchange for complete anonymity, these instructors offered complete honesty on a number of topics. Over the course of three weeks, we release the results of our summer survey on the state of college basketball.

The 2022-23 season is poised to feature more big guys than any college basketball year has seen in any generation. Of course, that’s a byproduct of the NBA no longer valuing traditional positions or weighted power forward the way they have for 60 years. But thanks to NIL, and because the college game still boasts myriad styles and more eclectic lineups than the pros, a series of high-profile 4s and 5s will return to the hardwoods of college.

In the rare case, two CBS Sports First All-American Team They come back, something that hasn’t happened in a very long time. This also means that the National Player of the Year race should not only be compelling, but should also help increase the popularity of college hoops and Q ratings among casual players. Some of the recognizable faces and recognizable names aren’t just there for another season, they wear the uniforms of strong brand programs and highly-rated teams.

Here the coaches think it will be the best. Our annual question, a three-man race (for now), asked us:

Who will be the best college basketball player this season?

Others get multiple votes: Trace Jackson Davis, Indiana; Jaime Jaques, University of California; Marcus Sasser, Houston

The others get one vote: Max Abmas, Oral Roberts; Hunter Dickinson, Michigan; Keyonte George, Baylor; Derek Lively, duke; Caleb Love, North Carolina; Nick Smith, Arkansas

Quotes that popped

on Timme

  • “Timme has won more games than any player in his class. He’s the best other player I’ve seen in college basketball in so many years and I don’t know how many years he’s been a brilliant winner. He’s bad, tough and he can score, his IQ is dependable. He doesn’t have a weakness. Other than Analytics – Yeah, yeah, he’s been exposed a little bit vs. Baylor. He’s got a ‘cool con, too.’ Freddie Mercury.”
  • “We play with them twice a year, so take a close and personal look at him. In the last two years he’s been the most dominant player and the hardest to prepare for. He finished everything eight feet and in. You double him, he can pass out. It’s a complete nightmare. We literally had to try every possible defense in his face… and it seemed like nothing worked.”
  • “They (Gonzaga) are still playing a traditional basketball style, inside out, moving parts, not just 3 seconds and passing the ball. I don’t know if they get into all the stats and all that stuff, kenboms and so on, I just know. When I watch them play they play the traditional style of basketball. For me, that’s the most exciting thing to watch in college basketball as a coach. He’s probably the best player in the country playing that way.”

in chiboy

  • “I hate voting for a British guy, but this really big thing is really good. I don’t know if he’d become the top scorer, but overall I think he’d be the guy who impacts the game the most.”
  • “He is the best returning player of the year. The UK manages very few plays for him, yet he manages to average 17 and 15. I have Baku in second for the same reason. Both can dominate the game (and cup) without claiming the ball. Almost every possession.
  • “The fact that he can control the match without scoring a point makes it impossible to prepare for it.”
  • “I’m going with a big Oscar. I think he’s got a chip on his shoulder the way they finished last year, and another year with Kentucky would make him more comfortable. It’s hard to keep up with his drive and rebound. I’d be more afraid of that. I play him as a coach than any other player.”

Ali Bakut

  • “Bacot’s numbers will be off the charts and old teammates around him will make them win at a high level.”
  • “He finished the season doing his best and I have to imagine that the recruitment process kept him on the path of improvement and development. He is experienced, he wins at a high level and has the ability to not only dictate the opponent’s defensive style and plan, but also set the offensive game plan.”
  • “In an age where the traditional big boys are going extinct, it’s funny how many of the best returning guys in college are more traditional big guys – the best in that group. He can totally control the game with the pressure of the backboard, and so different from Tshiebwe. He has touch and skill about the edge “.

on jackie’s

  • “This guy’s great. What’s he not like about him? … I really think if he was on the East Coast he would have gotten more love. He’s a good player, the way he treats UCLA is in terms of pride and I’d like to be a representative of that.” The program and that school, I love guys like that.”
  • “Jaime Jaques is the most underrated player in my mind.”


The margin/result of this poll surprised me. Tshiebwe was the consensus at NPOY last season, winning the award not only here at CBS Sports but also in all of the other prominent national outlets: Naismith, Oscar Robertson, Associated Press, Wooden and NABC. He averaged 17.5 points and 15.1 rebounds, becoming the first player in over 40 years to average over 15.0 rebounds and 15.0 rebounds. He led Kentucky to the second seed… Then Kentucky flipped in a historic upset for St. Peter’s.

So in between, and given that Timme is also an offensively proven and reliable player for a title contender, I got it. I just thought Tshiebwe would hardly beat Timme here. Instead, it’s Gonzaga’s BMOC that wins with the extra space.

One coach on why he took Timme over Tshiebwe: “I rely on a better team and less ego around Timme. Timme is more than a natural goalscorer. Usually that’s something too: if you score more. Better culture, less ego on his support team and a better team” .

That’s one way of saying that Timme doesn’t have as talented players around him as Tshiebwe in Kentucky. I’m not sure this is the case. Gonzaga will be ranked slightly ahead of the UK at the start of the season. When the two meet in Spokane, Washington, on November 20, it is conceivable that they will both be ranked in the top five. Also, as was recently pointed out in my 68 things to know before the season specialTimme vs. Tshiebwe will celebrate for the first time In nearly 50 years That Returning Player of the Year and All-American Player twice against each other. A private yard awaits.

Timme would have an average chance of 20 and 10. Tshiebwe might average 18 and 18. Both are great, but they are very different.

I don’t think this will be a two-man race by mid-season, though.

A strong third place in this discussion is the man who helped bring North Carolina to another championship game and set a championship record in the process. Bakout was the first player to score six doubles in an NCAA tournament. While Timme and Tshiebwe received a combined 77.6% of the vote, a few coaches I spoke to were enthusiastic and insisted that Bacot become the country’s most consistent man this season. He has a smaller but perhaps more ardent group of believers.

Part of this is due to the presence of the United Nations leadership in the ACC. The expectations of some coaches were that the heels would win the league and this would help Baku’s condition even more. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up being the man, although Caleb Love could also be a forward player this season.

If you look at who got other votes, Jackson-Davis and Jackies are also two big guys. Dickinson too. The sport will be loaded with these types of players, and because of that, it will be interesting to see which keepers end up being the best players. Sasser, Love and George have the most support, but don’t forget that Apmas led the nation in scoring at Oral Roberts in 2020-21.

If NIL legislation isn’t in place, it’s safe to say that at least a few of these players won’t return. Thank God they are. Tshiebwe, Timme, Bacot – These players will be able to sign deals that will make them millionaires while playing college basketball. Perhaps the most important factor in keeping college basketball viable and relevant beyond March and the first few days of April.

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