News & ToursMay 1, 2009

Who will win national player-of-the-year honors?

With less than a month left in the college season, both the men's and women's national player of the year races remain fairly wide open. Here is my take of how the competition stacks up, trying to take into account not just what's happened to this point in the 2008-09 season but also consider players' potential for success at NCAA regionals and the national championship.

__FAB FIVE

My look at the top five candidates for national player of the year

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__[#image: /photos/55ad7193b01eefe207f682a1]|||Matt Hill 2008-09.jpg|||

__1. Matt Hill, N.C. State

Starts:__ 11 (includes All-American Classic)

Average: 70.16

Wins: 5 (Hartford Hawks, General Jim Hackler, E-Z-Go Schenkel, River Landing, ACC)

Top-5s: 7

Top-10s: 8

Worst finish: T-14 (Bank of Tennessee/Ridges)

Odds to win: 5-1

Skinny: Has the most wins and has the most consistent season of all D-I players. Share of the ACC title moved the sophomore from Bright's Grove, Ontario to the No. 1 spot

Nick Taylor 2008-09.jpeg

__2. Nick Taylor, Washington

Starts:__ 11 (includes All-American Classic)

Average: 71.38

Wins: 4 (CordeValle, Big Island, Duck Invitational, U.S. Intercollegiate)

Top-5s: 6

Top-10s: 7

Worst finish: T-51 (USC Collegiate)

Odds to win: 7-1

__Skinny:The junior, another Canadian, has had best season in Washington history and has helped the Huskies become a top-five squad in 2008-09. __

Jorge Campillo 2008-09.jpeg

__3. Jorge Campillo, Indiana

__Starts: 9 (includes All-American Classic)

Average: 70.48

Wins: 3 (Wolf Run, Windon Classic, Hoosier Invitational)

Top-5s: 6

Top-10s: 8

Worst finish: T-11 (U.S. Collegiate)

__Odds to win:__8-1

Skinny: The senior defends title at the Big Ten championship this weekend and has confidence from runner-up finish at 2008 NCAA Championship.

Thumbnail image for Mike Van Sickle 2008-09.jpeg

Starts:__ 11 (includes All-American Classic)

Average: 69.67

Wins: 5 (Gopher Invitational, Xavier Invitational, Pacific Invitational, Western All-American, Palisades Collegiate)

Top-5s: 9

Top-10s: 10

Worst finish: T-22 (FAU Spring Break)

Odds to win: 10-1

Skinny: Leads country in scoring average, birdies and eagles. Only out of the top 10 once this season. Playoff win at the All-American Classic helps bolster his candidacy. Strength of schedule is his biggest issue, as is the fact that Marquette might have the toughest time of any of the POY candidates' school of getting to nationals.

Thumbnail image for Morgan Hoffmann 2008-09.jpg

Starts:__ 9

Average: 71.56

Wins: 3 (Ping Preview, Morris Williams, Big 12)

Top-5s: 5

Top-10s: 5

Worst finish: T-54 (Isleworth)

Odds to win: 12-1

Skinny: The true freshman has come on strong with wins at Morris Williams and an impressive Big 12 victory. Feels like he could roll to a Regional title pretty easily. Wins in big events are impressive, even if he shared title at Ping Preview and Morris Williams.

Cameron Tringale 2008-09.jpeg

__Dark Horse: Cameron Tringale, Georgia Tech

Starts:__ 9

Average: 71.33

Wins: 2 (Brickyard Collegiate, Southern Highlands)

Top-5s: 3

Top-10s: 6

Worst finish: T-41 (U.S. Collegiate)

Odds to win: 15-1

Skinny: The senior who graduates tomorrow must be very impressive at Regionals and Nationals to leap the first four.

Billy Horschel 2008-09.jpg

__Sleeper: Billy Horschel, Florida

Starts:__ 10 (includes All-American Classic)

Average: 71.34

Wins: 1 (SEC)

Top-5s: 4

Top-10s: 7

Worst finish: T-42 (Ping Preview)

Odds to win: 20-1

Skinny: Good win at SECs hints that the senior might be ready for run at Regionals and Nationals. A sweep here might be enough for him to steal POY away.

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WOMEN

__[#image: /photos/55ad7194b01eefe207f682b3]|||Lizette Salas 2008-09.jpeg|||

__1. Lizette Salas, USC

Starts:__ 8

Average: 71.35

Wins: 2 (Stanford Intercollegiate, Arizona Invitational)

Top-5s: 6

Top-10s: 8

Worst finish: T-10 (Mason Rudolph, UCF Challenge)

Odds to win: 4-1

Skinny: Consistency has been the sophomore's hallmark this year. Improved average 2.21 strokes from her freshman season (73.56), when she never once broke 70. Still, with only two victories she needs impressive finishes at Regionals and Nationals in order not to get passed at the finish line.

Maria Hernandez 2008-09.jpeg

__2. Maria Hernandez. Purdue

Starts:__ 10

Average: 72.9

Wins: 5 (Lady Northern, Lady Puerto Rico, Betsy Rawls, Ping/ASU, Big Ten)

Top-5s: 6

Top-10s: 6

Worst finish: T-30 (NCAA Preview)

Odds to win: 5-1

Skinny: Five wins help offset slow start the senior from Spain had last fall. Only one finish outside the top-10 this spring (T-28 at UCF Challenge). If her stroke average were a little lower, she would be the favorite at this point. Needs solid finish at Nationals, where she's gone T-21, T-21, T-41 the past three years.

Candace Shepperle 2008-09.jpeg

__3. Candace Schepperle, Auburn

Starts:__ 9

Average: 72.0

Wins: 0

Top-5s: 6

Top-10s: 9

Worst finish: T-10 (SEC)

Odds to win: 12-1

Skinny: The goose egg in the win column is the biggest negative on the junior's resume as she's had a standout season otherwise. Must get a win at Regionals or Nationals to have a realistic shot at passing Salas and Hernandez.

Caroline Hedwall 2008-09.jpg

__4. Caroline Hedwall, Oklahoma State

Starts:__ 9

Average: 72.24__

Wins:__ 1 (NCAA Fall Preview)

Top-5s: 4

Top-10s: 5

Worst finish: T-24 (Stanford Intercollegiate)

Odds to win: 15-1

Skinny: Only times the freshman has been out of top 20 this year were the two tournaments sandwiched around her trip to Australia to help Sweden win the Women's World Team Amateur. Having won already at Caves Valley, you have to like her chances at Nationals should the Cowgirls advance.

Carlota Ciganda 2008-09.jpeg

__5. Carlota Ciganda, Arizona State

Starts:__ 6

Average: 72.28

Wins: 1 (Pac-10)

Top-5s: 4

Top-10s: 5

Worst finish: T-14 (UCF Challenge)

Odds to win: 18-1

__Skinny:__Great stats for having played just a half season, and the playoff win at the Pac-10 Championship hints at the potential for a strong finish to the season. Still, a win at Nationals is likely needed to offset having played only the spring semester.

Jane Chin 2008-09.jpeg

__Dark horse: Jane Chin, UC Irvine

Starts:__ 8

Average: 71.83

Wins: 3 (Coast BMW Intercollegiate, Price's Give 'Em Five, Kent Youel)

Top-5s: 7

Top-10s: 8

Worst finish: T-7 (Aztec Spring Invitational)

Odds to win: 20-1

Skinny: Fifth-year senior has capitalized after redshirting last season with a truly impressive season. Chin falls victim to a weaker schedule in the POY race but will be robbed if she's not a first-team All-American.

Erica Moston 2008-09.jpg

__Sleeper: Erica Moston, San Jose State

Starts:__ 8

Average: 71.4

Wins: 3 (Mountain View, Canes & Cardinals, WAC)

Top-5s: 6

Top-10s: 8

Worst finish: 8th (Cal Poly Invite)

Odds to win: 25-1

Skinny: Has won her last three starts and has shot only three rounds higher than 72 all season.

All photos courtesy of schools' Sports Information Departments

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