Villanova’s Jalen Brunson named AP player of year

Villanova’s Jalen Brunson was named The Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year on Thursday.

The junior point guard has the Wildcats within two games of their second national championship in three seasons.

Villanova will face fellow No. 1 seed Kansas on Saturday in the national semifinals. The winner will take on either No. 3 Michigan or No. 11 Loyola-Chicago in Monday’s championship.

Brunson earned 36 of 65 votes from the same panel that determines the weekly AP Top 25 rankings, with voting taking place before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Oklahoma freshman Trae Young, who led the country in scoring and assists, finished second with 15 votes. Arizona freshman Deandre Ayton finished third with seven votes, followed by Duke freshman Marvin Bagley III with four votes.

The first Villanova player to earn the honor, Brunson was also the leading vote-getter on the AP All-America first team, which also included Young, Ayton and Bagley along with Kansas senior Devonte’ Graham.

Brunson, who is averaging 19.2 points this season, also earned Big East player of the year honors this season. He was the second straight Villanova guard to earn the honors, after senior shooting guard Josh Hart won last season.