Duke Frosh Zion Williamson Early Naismith Trophy Betting Favorite

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, December 5, 2018 5:11 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018 5:11 PM UTC

Duke freshman Zion Williamson has taken the country by storm, and he’s your early Bovada betting favorite to win the Naismith Award as the nation’s top player.

Everyone knows what the top individual college football award is called: the Heisman Trophy. There are numerous NCAA basketball awards given out at the end of a season for National Player of the Year, but the cream of the crop is the Naismith Trophy, given out by the Atlanta Tipoff Club board of selectors, which is comprised of coaches, administrators and media members from across the USA.

At the start of season, a 50-player Watch List is released and it’s updated and shortened at different points of the year. Needless to say, the Watch List is mostly full of returning college players because no one is really sure what freshmen will become – but there are always some highly-touted freshmen on the list. For example, one was Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland, but he already has been lost to a season-ending injury.

Bovada has released its first odds to win the Naismith Trophy and the favorite is Duke superstar freshman Zion Williamson at +450. No question, he has been the most hyped and exciting player in the country thus far and could be the No. 1 player selected in the 2019 NBA Draft. Some NBA fan bases already are coming up with phrases like: “Tankathion for Zion.”

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Did you know there has only been three @CitizenWatchUS Naismith Trophy winners born outside of the US? @andrewbogut was born in Melbourne, Australia; @CoachEwing33 was born in Kingston, Jamaica; and Buddy Hield was born in Freeport, Bahamas!

— The Naismith Trophy (@NaismithTrophy) November 26, 2018
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While freshmen usually go No. 1 in the NBA Draft these days, no freshman has won the Naismith Trophy since Kentucky’s Anthony Davis in 2012. He’s the only one this decade and the last winner who became a great pro player. An upperclassman has won it the past five years. It was Villanova guard Jalen Brunson a season ago. No Duke player has won it since J.J. Redick in 2006. Williamson’s freshman teammate, RJ Barrett, is +550 on this Bovada prop.

Also at that number is Purdue junior guard and Big Ten leading scorer Carsen Edwards. Fabulous player and surely will be a first-team All-American, but not sure the Boilermakers will have enough of a national profile – or be good enough – for Edwards to win this award. Last year, Edwards won the Jerry West Award given to the nation's top shooting guard.

Kansas transfer Dedric Lawson and North Carolina senior forward Luke Maye are each +600. Lawson is a double-double machine on perhaps the nation’s top team. He sat out last year after leaving Memphis.

The leaders are rounded out by Nevada senior forward Caleb Martin (+700), and if you haven’t seen the Wolf Pack that team is freaking loaded and easily the best out west, and Syracuse junior guard Tyus Battle (+1000).

Like the Heisman, the Naismith Trophy generally goes to the best player on one of the country’s best teams. Don’t believe Purdue or Syracuse are among that latter group. Rui Hachimura could be a steal at +1500 as he’s the star of Gonzaga, which might run the table in the regular season and already beat Duke.

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