|JAMES DANIEL III|
COURTESY: HOWARD UNIVERSITY
Saturday, February 13, 2016
There's Buddy Hield, the runaway favorite to win national Player of the Year, sitting at No. 2 with an average of 25.7 points per game. Well-known non-power conference stars Jack Gibbs of Davidson (24.6 ppg) and Kahlil Felder of Oakland (24.6 ppg) are just behind him. Anthony "Cat" Barber from NC State (23.5 ppg) and Stefan Moody from Ole Miss (23.3 ppg) are also right there near the top.
But what about the guy with a firm grip on the top spot?
James Daniel has a boring name, he is, by basketball standards, a boring size (5'11, 165-pounds) and he plays for a Howard program which hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1992. He's also on pace to average more points in a season than any Division I player since Jimmer Fredette in 2010-11.
This wasn't supposed to happen for Daniel, who enters the weekend pouring in 27.4 points per contest. A season ago, he averaged a solid, but not spectacular 16.1 ppg while playing more of a traditional point guard role for the Bison. He knew he'd be asked to do more scoring in a junior season, but a rash of injuries to his teammates left Daniel -- who also goes by "J-Byrd" -- shouldering more of the offensive load than he could have ever imagined.