The Notebook has been pumping Texas freshman Kevin Durant since day one, so we shall refrain from doing so again this weekend, notwithstanding how much he might deserve it. His numbers and, more importantly, the way he produces them, have put him in a stratosphere not even a casual fan can ignore. In fact, his performances have thrust him into the national player of the year conversation. So, for POY, the strongest candidates have been Wisconsin's Alando Tucker (big shots, big plays in big games), Texas' Durant (the most talented player in America), Nevada's Nick Fazekas (he has been as good as any big man), Florida's Joakim Noah (no player is more productive in just 24 minutes), UCLA's Arron Afflalo (plays on both ends and is the Bruins' heart), LSU's Glen Davis (big-time college player),Oklahoma State's Mario Boggan (one of the most productive interior players in the country) and Tennessee's Chris Lofton (this year's Redick). Let's add another name ... Oregon's Aaron Brooks. Brooks is averaging more than 18 points, almost 5 assists and 2 steals, and he has taken it on himself to hit every big shot Oregon has needed to win key games. It was Brooks who shot down UCLA, and he was magnificent on the road at Arizona. There might be a long way to go in this whole player of the year debate, but Brooks deserves to be in it as much as anyone we have named so far.
• With Boston College forward Sean Williams dismissed from the team and out of the running for national defensive player of the year, the award can go to only one player, in my judgment. Florida's Corey Brewer should begin clearing space on his trophy case shelf because he will be accepting the award at the end of the season. Brewer is perhaps the most exceptional and best perimeter defender I have seen since Wake Forest had Josh Howard and UNLV had Stacey Augmon. Brewer is 6-foot-8 (and please, stop telling everyone he is 6-foot-9 ... he is not) and he is lengthy and has the ability to run and move laterally. He is the best backflow defender in the country, and he gets deflections, the occasional block, pressure on shots and is generally disruptive on the defensive end. Brewer is a pro, and he is a big reason Florida has been so successful the past few years.