A breakdown of the leading candidates for the 2004 National Most Valuable Player award from across the country. The table below is complete with stats, team records, state and national rankings and other notes on each candidate.
There are 14 candidates that we came up with, and each one is ranked among RivalsHoops.com's upper echelon of 2004 players. Arizona-bound Jawann McClellan actually happens to be the lowest-ranked of them all at No. 38 (note to Rivals: update rankings ASAP, folks).
What we were basing MVP consideration on was, of course, individual play (stats, feats, etc.) but also on how well a particular player has helped his team improve and lead them to wins and lofty rankings in their city, region, state or in the country.
Again, this list is for the Most Valuable player, not the Player of the Year, which is obviously a completely different animal. Jefferson, Howard and Livingston are sure to be the top three or so for POY honors, but for now we want to examine which player below has been the most valuable.
22.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 6.2 apg, 3.0 spg, 3.0 bpg for 24-0 team that is ranked No. 1 in the state of Texas and No. 4 nationally by USA Today. Has won three MVP awards at tournaments so far this year, including at the Academy National Invitational where he led Milby to wins over two teams ranked in the national top 10.
Al Jefferson 6-8, 255 F/C Prentiss (Miss.) HS ARKANSAS
39.1 ppg for 11-6 team that is NOT ranked Has had games of 57 and 50 points already Season-low is 29 points in first game of the year.
Shaun Livingston 6-7, 175 PG Peoria (Ill.) Central DUKE
18.2 ppg, 6.0 apg, 5.7 rpg for 15-1 team that is ranked No. 1 in the state of Illinois and No. 5 nationally by USA Today Led team to state title last year after transferring from Richwood HS.
Malik Hairston 6-5, 185 MG Detroit (Mich.) Renaissance OPEN
17.4 ppg on a team that is 11-0, ranked No. 1 in the state of Michigan and No. 3 nationally by USA Today Still considering where to attend college.
Joe Crawford 6-3, 180 SG Detroit (Mich.) Renaissance OPEN
Scores more than teammate Hairston does (23.3 ppg) but isn't quite the all-around player. Team is 11-0, ranked 1st in the state and third in the country.
Dwight Howard 6-11, 255 F/C Atlanta (Ga.) SW Christian Acad. OPEN
28.0 ppg, 18.0 rpg, 7.5 bpg for 18-1 team that is ranked No. 1 in the state of Georgia and No. 17 nationally by USA Today Plays against sub-par religious schools for the most part Got hammered by a good but not great Dominguez HS team at the Pangos Dream Classic on Jan. 3.
DeMarcus Nelson 6-3, 200 SG Sacramento (Calif.) Sheldon DUKE
30.8 ppg, 12.2 rpg, 5.5 apg for 14-3 team that is ranked No. 1 in the area. Scored 41 points recently against future college rival Quentin Thomas, who is signed to play at North Carolina. Thomas only had nine points against Marky and his team lost by 46 points.
Marvin Williams 6-9, 230 WF Bremerton (Wash.) HS NORTH CAROLINA
28.1 ppg, 13.2 rpg for 6-6 team that is NOT ranked Even still, Williams is quite possibly the nation's premier all-around talent, AND he has great size.
Darius Washington 6-1, 175 SG Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater MEMPHIS
28.6 ppg for 14-2 team that is ranked No. 1 in the state of Florida and No. 10 nationally by USA Today Scored 36 points in head-to-head matchup with Sebastian Telfair on nationally-televised (ESPN2) game.
Sebastian Telfair 6-0, 180 PG Brooklyn (NY) Lincoln LOUISVILLE
34.2 ppg, 6.4 apg for 17-4 team that is ranked No. 3 in New York City Has had scoring games of 61, 55, 48 and 37 points, respectively. Plus, he's probably the country's best passer, too.
30.7 ppg, 14.5 rpg for 13-7 team that is ranked No. 5 in the state of Texas Didn't sign a Letter-of-Intent with Texas, thus leaving the door wide open for him to head to the NBA - or perhaps another college come spring.
Josh Smith 6-9, 230 SF Powder Springs (Ga.) Oak Hill Academy INDIANA
Plays on an Oak Hill team that is 21-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country by everybody Unfortunately, just as is the case for Hairston and Crawford, great teammates like Brian Johnson and Dayshawn Wright hurt Smith's chances for National MVP honors.
Rudy Gay 6-8, 205 WF Severn (Md.) Spalding UCONN
22.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 4.3 bpg for 16-3 team that is ranked No. 3 in the state of Maryland.
Jordan Farmar 6-2, 175 PG Van Nuys (Calif.) Taft UCLA
25.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.5 apg, and 3.5 spg for 14-3 team that is ranked No. 11 in the Los Angeles area...Loss of USC WR Steve Smith forcing Farmar to do it all by himself as basically a traveling one-man show at Taft.