As the 2013-14 high school basketball season crosses the midway point, candidates have started to emerge for MaxPreps National Player of the Year honors.
Prerequisites for the nation's top high school hoops honor include big numbers and a winning touch. Five of the eight win POYs dating back to 2006 capped their season with a state championship.
Past recipients include NBA standouts Harrison Barnes, Derrick Favors, Brandon Jennings and Kevin Love.
Here's a look at five players who have broke away from that pack and 10 others who could make a run before the award is handed out in early April (listed alphabetically):Cliff Alexander, Curie (Chicago)POY credentials:
The 6-foot-8, 235-pound forward has raised his game in a big way as a senior. The future Kansas Jayhawk is putting up Love-like numbers and Curie's only loss of the season came with him on the bench serving a suspension.
Stanley Johnson, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)POY credentials:
A future Arizona Wildcat, Johnson is averaging 26.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.8 steals per game for 15-0 Mater Dei – ranked No. 2 nationally by MaxPreps this week. The 6-6, 225-pound power guard could be tough to beat for POY honors if he completes the quest to become the first player in California history to start on four-straight state championship teams.Tyus Jones, Apple Valley (Minn.)POY credentials:
Apple Valley is 42-2 over the past two season with Jones running the point. The future Duke Blue Devil is averaging 26.6 points per game and helped the Eagles snap a long winning streak for nationally-ranked Blue Valley Northwest (Overland Park, Kan.) earlier this month.Trey Lyles, Arsenal Technical (Indianapolis)POY credentials:
Lyles has helped Arsenal go 11-1 against a challenging schedule, posting 22.7 points, 13.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. The Kentucky pledge put up 37 and 14 in a win over nationally-ranked La Lumiere (La Porte, Ind.) earlier this month.Ben Simmons, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.)POY credentials:
The Australian is the most dynamic player on the nation's top team. The versatile 6-8 junior averaged 18.0 points and 11.7 rebounds per game during Montverde's successful four-game run at the City of Palms Classic last month.
Other contendersGrayson Allen, Providence (Jacksonville, Fla.):
Helped Stallions reach semifinals at City of Palms Classic then win the Beach Ball Classic a week later.Joel Berry, Lake Highland Prep (Orlando, Fla.):
A two-time Mr. Basketball selection in Florida, Berry has helped the Highlanders to a 13-3 start by posting 25.2 points and 4.5 assists per game.James Blackmon, Marion (Ind.):
Another Hoosier State star in the midst of a big senior campaign, Blackmon is tallying over 35 points per contest for the tradition-rich Giants.Trevon Bluiett, Park Tudor (Indianapolis):
The Panthers are averaging nearly 95 points per game thanks in large part to Bluiett, who is pouring in 44.2 per outing to go along with 13.2 rebounds.Luke Kennard, Franklin (Ohio):
Junior star is one of the nation's leading scorers at over 40 points per game.Emmanuel Mudiay, Prime Prep (Dallas):
247Sports.com's No. 1 prospect hasn't disappointed, but Prime Prep has come up short in several big games over the past three weeks. Malik Newman, Callaway (Jackson, Miss.):
Star junior and two-time state champion at Callaway is putting up 29.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.Jahlil Okafor, Whitney Young (Chicago):
Duke-bound big man averaged 31 points and 12.5 rebounds per game at Les Schwab Invitational last month.Myles Turner, Trinity (Euless, Texas):
Turner has made Trinity a contender in Texas and that speaks volumes at a school best-known for its powerhouse football team.Isaiah Whitehead, Lincoln (Brooklyn, N.Y.):
The Railsplitters cooled off after Christmas with a couple of losses but Whitehead lit up opponents at the City of Palms Classic to the tune of 25.5 points per game.Past MaxPreps National Players of the Year
2013 – Jabari Parker, Simeon (Chicago)
2012 – Kyle Anderson, St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.)
2011 – Austin Rivers, Winter Park (Fla.)
2010 – Harrison Barnes, Ames (Iowa)
2009 – Derrick Favors, South Atlanta (Ga.)
2008 – Brandon Jennings, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.)
2007 – Kevin Love, Lake Oswego (Ore.)
2006 – Greg Oden, Lawrence North (Indianapolis)