The Case for Retin Obasohan as SEC Player of the Year
He is one of the most improved players not just in the SEC, but the entire country from last season to this season, and Alabama's Retin Obasohan has become one of the leaders for SEC Player of the Year.
As of now, some pundits consider Kentucky's prolific point guard Tyler Ulis as the leader for the prestigious award, but what Obasohan has done this season is simply undeniable. Sure, the Tide aren't winning as many games as the Wildcats, but had it not been for the production of Obasohan, Alabama would be in some seriously bad shape.
For starters, he's sixth in the conference in scoring with 16.9 per game. But not only is he a consistent scorer (with a consistency rating of 7.89 [population standard deviation]), he's an explosive scorer, going for 20 or more points 12 times this season so far. However, in those 12 games, the Tide are only 6-6, and that may seem like a detriment to Obasohan's case, but here's why it's not: in those six wins where he's scored 20+ points, the rest of Avery Johnson's team has shot only 36.5% from the field. Sure, nine other players have scored double digits in those same six games, but they've done so inefficiently. The main scoring load for this Alabama squad is focused heavily on Obasohan.
When freshman Dazon Ingram went down with a tough injury early in the season, the role of point guard was up in the air: would it be sophomore Justin Coleman leading the point for the Tide, or would senior leader Obasohan take up the role? Well, head coach Avery Johnson has more or less split this responsibility with those two guys, allowing either one to assume the point guard position on the fly. But with a heavier load of minutes shifted toward Obasohan (32.7 minutes/game played), the sheer amount of time he's on the court has been integral to Alabama's unpredictable success this season.
As with every point guard, distribution of the basketball and protecting the basketball are the two most important responsibilities of the on-court quarterback. Obasohan has averaged 2.8 assists/game and 2.3 turnovers/game. For a full time point guard, these numbers aren't fantastic, but keep in mind that he's sharing that role with Coleman (averaging 3.8 assists/game) and that only two players on the Tide's roster averages 10+ points/game, significantly reducing the number of assists that a player could possibly have.
One of the most underrated parts of any player's game is their defensive prowess. With the new rule changes this season in college basketball, it's difficult for many players to play defense like they used to, and it's evident by the increase in scoring this season. But with this decrease in defensive output, Obasohan has been one of the outliers. So far, he's averaged 1.5 steals/game, tied for fifth in the league (with fellow SEC Player of the Year candidate Tyler Ulis).
He's been inexplicably important to the Crimson Tide all over the court the entire season, and without Obasohan, this Alabama team would not be in any NCAA Tournament conversations. There are some great players in the SEC having some great seasons this year (Ben Simmons, LSU; Stefan Moody, Ole Miss; Tyler Ulis, Kentucky), but none of them are as important to their respective teams as Obasohan is to the Crimson Tide.