Connecticut v Kansas
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If college basketball season ended today, it would likely result in Purdue center Zach Edey becoming the first player to repeat as Naismith Player of the Year since Ralph Sampson did it for Virginia in three straight seasons from 1981-83. Edey is playing roughly 2.5 fewer minutes per game than he did last season and is still producing at astronomical clip for the No. 2 Boilermakers.

But in the unlikely event that Edey struggles during the season's second half or the voters get fatigued with his dominance, who else would be in contention for the award? 

One player vowed as a potential challenger to Edey's dominance in the preseason was UConn center Donovan Clingan. But foot injuries hampered Clingan in preseason practice and have kept him out since Dec. 20, limiting him to just 12 games thus far and -- in all likelihood -- eliminating him from the POTY race. Illinois wing Terrence Shannon Jr. was also mounting a challenge to Edey by averaging 21.7 points on 40.8% 3-point shooting through 11 games before he was suspended in late December amid a rape charge.

But even with Clingan and Shannon out of the picture, there are still a handful of college basketball stars within shouting distance of Edey in the player of the year race. For this week's edition of the Dribble Handoff, our writers are revealing the player not named Zach Edey who they would pick to be player of the year.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke

Barring a serious injury, I can't see anybody beating (or even seriously approaching) Edey in this POY race. He's just too statistically great for a team that seems likely to win another Big Ten title. At this point in the season, it's not even really a race. Anybody who would cast a vote for somebody other than Edey shouldn't be allowed to vote. That said, Filipowski is a reasonable secondary option. The 7-foot center is averaging 18.2 points, 8.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 51.7% from the field and 41.2% from 3-point range. He's doing all of that for a blue-blood program that's ranked seventh in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, which means Filipowski also has the type of team success that is often a prerequisite to winning an award of this caliber. So if Edey goes down, Filipowski could emerge as the favorite. -- Gary Parrish

RJ Davis, North Carolina

In looking up and down the candidate list for this week's DH, it became all the more clear to me that Edey has almost no chance of giving away this award. But as of Jan. 17, I'd take Davis as my No. 2 guy on the board. North Carolina has jumped into the top five of the rankings thanks to Davis, who usurped Armando Bacot as UNC's best player this season. Davis is averaging 20.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists and is shooting 41.0% from beyond the arc. We're at the midway point of the season and he is unquestionably a First Team All-American at this stage. Put it this way: If you took Edey off Purdue and Davis off North Carolina, I think UNC's drop-off is steeper than the Boilermakers'. That speaks to Davis' value in this turnabout season of promise for the Tar Heels. -- Matt Norlander

Jaedon LeDee, San Diego State

Strip the name off the front of the jersey and ignore the conference affiliation of SDSU being in a "mid-major" -- sarcastic air quotes there, given how strong the league has been this year -- and LeDee is a First Team All-American in real contention to be the NPOY. I'd argue that even with those qualifiers he should be under consideration for both, even if, admittedly, Edey is far and away the frontrunner unlikely to get tracked down.

The Mountain West has been a tougher conference this season than any other league out west, and LeDee has dominated it for the Aztecs, averaging a league-leading 21.6 points while adding 8.6 rebounds per game and hitting 40% from distance on the season -- all career-highs.

LeDee's success has translated to team success, too. SDSU is 14-3 on the season and leading all MWC players in Player Efficiency Rating while ranking just outside the top-10 in that metric. He's a true breakout superstar this season after averaging just 7.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, and his star turn into one of the best in basketball -- even if it isn't on par with the very best of what we've seen from Edey -- merits praise.  -- Kyle Boone

Hunter Dickinson, Kansas

 Dickinson's decision to leave Michigan after three all-conference seasons and transfer to Kansas is aging well. Amid the change in scenery, the 7-footer is averaging a career-best 19.3 points, shooting a career-best 60.7%, averaging a career-high 11.7 rebounds and making a career-best 44.4% of his 3-pointers. He also feasted on Big 12 opposition during Kansas' 3-1 start to league play, averaging 21.8 points on 61.3% shooting.

Though Edey's field goal percentage is slightly higher than Dickinson's, it comes with the caveat that Edey doesn't attempt 3-pointers. Dickinson is actually shooting slightly better (63.7%) on 2-pointers than Edey (63%) and brings some perimeter pop. Dickinson's ability to step out and hit 3-pointers opens up the Kansas offense in a way that Edey cannot replicate for Purdue. Opposing bigs are forced to leave the basket and guard Dickinson on the perimeter because of the fact that he's 16 for 36 from beyond the arc for the year. Driving and passing lanes are created as a result. Even if overtaking Edey for NPOTY is impractical, Dickinson is absolutely playing himself onto the ballot. -- David Cobb

Dalton Knecht, Tennessee

Knecht is one of the best stories in college basketball. As a fellow "Big Sky Sicko" I got a chance to watch him play a few times last season when he was at Northern Colorado. While his overall numbers have declined from last season (points, rebounds and minutes) he's shooting a career-high in field goal (48.6%)and 3-point percentage (41.7%) on a similar volume while playing against top competition in the SEC. If you haven't had a chance to read David Cobb's story about Knecht, now would be the perfect time to do just that.

In his last three games, Knecht has put up 28, 36 and 39 points after playing limited minutes in the SEC opener against Ole Miss. While Edey is likely to be the national player of the year, Knecht deserves some serious consideration. Knecht is currently in a two-horse race with Texas A&M's Wade Taylor lV for SEC Player of the Year and if he continues to play like this, Tennessee should make a deep run come March. Regardless of the awards he may or may not win, Knecht is someone who has improved his NBA Draft stock tremendously in the last two months. -- Cameron Salerno