Video: Cade Cunningham highlights
Montverde Academy senior is among front-runners for POY honors.
As the regular season nears its conclusion, the race for MaxPreps National Player of the Year honors is heating up with seven elite seniors separating themselves from the pack.
Unlike recent years, however, no runaway candidate has emerged. Based on a dominating season thus far, Montverde Academy players Cade Cunningham and Scottie Barnes appear to have a slight advantage over other deserving candidates like Jalen Green, Cam Thomas and Deivon Smith.
Here's our current list of finalists (listed alphabetically) with an opportunity to bolster their case for Player of the Year honors behind a strong postseason run.
MaxPreps National Player of the Year Watch List
The versatile wing impacts the game in a variety of ways for the top-ranked Eagles, averaging 11.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 21 minutes per contest. The Florida State signee is the ultimate team player for the Sunshine State powerhouse, doing whatever is necessary for his team to win. Barnes could strengthen his case for Player of the Year honors behind stellar play at GEICO Nationals.
While teammates have been stealing the national headlines, Boston has consistently produced at a high level for the Trailblazers. Averaging a team-high 19.7 points per game, the Kentucky pledge has established himself as the go-to guy on a star-studded Sierra Canyon roster. The 5-star guard has guided the two-time defending CIF Open Division champions to a 22-3 record and No. 17 national ranking.
The Oklahoma State signee averages 13.3 points, 6.5 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals, while playing 22 minutes per outing. He's guided the Eagles to a 25-0 record, where they're beating opponents by an average of 39 points. A strong performance and title at GEICO Nationals could solidify his case.
Green has guided the Crew to their best season in program history with a 22-3 record and No. 13 national rank. The 5-star guard averages 27.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals and has consistently stepped up in big moments. Green is averaging 34.7 points and 6.7 rebounds in his last three outings.
The only player not ranked as a 5-star prospect on this list, the athletic guard from the Peach State has played like one of the top players in the country. Averaging 17.7 points, 8.2 assists, 8.2 rebounds and 3.5 steals per contest, Smith is the catalyst in the Rams' 24-1 record and No. 4 rank.
Averaging 23 points per outing for the three-time defending state champions, he's established himself as one of the game's elite prospects. The Gonzaga commit has led the Red Hawks to a 15-2 mark and No. 9 ranking, and put together an impressive performance — 23 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and six steals — in Minnehaha Academy's 78-58 win Sierra Canyon.
Despite an omission from the McDonald's All-American Game roster, the LSU-bound guard has put together an impressive senior season, averaging 30.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists. The prolific scorer has led the Warriors to a 32-2 record and No. 5 rank. Look for Thomas to be on a mission at GEICO Nationals.