South Carolina Basketball: Meechie Johnson on list for National Player of the Year

South Carolina basketball star Meechie Johnson was nominated for the Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award.

South Carolina basketball star Meechie Johnson
South Carolina basketball star Meechie Johnson / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
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South Carolina basketball lost to Alabama earlier this week, but the Gamecocks are still in really good position to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. Sitting at 13-2 with wins over Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, Grand Canyon, and George Washington, the Gamecocks are a good SEC season away from going dancing for the first time since the magical Final Four run at the end of the 2016-2017 season.

The best player for the Gamecocks this year (and one of the best players in the Southeastern Conference) has been Meechie Johnson. The former Ohio State Buckeye is in his second year as part of the South Carolina basketball team and has taken his game to a new level.

Prior to this week's game against Alabama, Johnson was the 7th-most efficient offensive player in the country according to Ken Pomeroy, and he was among the SEC leaders among guards in points, 3-pointers made, free throws made, and rebounds.

His strong first half of the season (yes, we are almost halfway through with the college basketball year already) has earned him some well-deserved recognition. He was last week's SEC Player of the Week (an award he shared with LSU's Jordan Wright), and his name is the first to come up during any analysis of the Gamecock basketball team.

On Wednesday, Johnson was named to the Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award midseason watchlist, one of just 30 players honored.

Named after legendary coach Lute Olson (Arizona), the Lute Olson National Player of the Year Award has been given to the player deemed college basketball's most outstanding performer since 2009-2010. Sometimes the Olson Award goes to the same player who wins the Naismith National Player of the Year trophy, but most years, the winner has been different.

Past winners have included recognizable names like Ja Morant, Doug McDermott (2x), and Kemba Walker. The winner is selected by a committee of current and former college coaches, current and former NBA players, former college players, and highly esteemed basketball media figures.

If Meechie Johnson were to win the award, he would become the first Olson Award recipient from the South Carolina basketball program and the first National Player of the Year honor of any kind. John Roche (1968-1969, 1969-1970) and Sindarius Thornwell (2016-2017) won the ACC Player of the Year and SEC Player of the Year, respectively.

Next. South Carolina Basketball: Why Meechie Johnson is a real SEC Player of the Year candidate. South Carolina Basketball: Why Meechie Johnson is a real SEC Player of the Year candidate. dark