Luke Hancock wins Most Outstanding Player

Streeter Lecka

From nowhere, Luke Hancock won the Most Outstanding Player Award thanks to a pair of sharpshooting performances in the Final Four.

Luke Hancock of the Louisville Cardinals is the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament. No, I can't explain it either.

Just a few days ago, somebody released odds for all the players that could win the MOP on the players still in the NCAA Tournament. Those odds went down to Carl Hall of Wichita State, who was 33-1. Hancock was not on the list. He was a key player on one of the four teams remaining, but even then it was implausible to imagine that less then a week later, he'd be deemed the most important player in the college basketball season's season-defining tournament.

But Hancock pulled it off thanks to ridiculous shooting. In the Final Four game against Wichita State, he had 20 points, drilling three threes and forcing a turnover in the game's waning seconds. In the national championship, he drilled all five threes he took and had a career-high 22 points. And thus, a guy who averaged about seven points a game coming in ended up as the guy with the biggest piece of individual hardware.

Hancock had had a few nice outings earlier in the year -- 22 in a five-overtime game against Notre Dame, 19 points in a win over then-No. 13 Missouri -- but nothing on the level of what he was able to do in the season's final two games. He didn't hit double-digits in each of the tournament's first three games, but when he got hot, he got hot -- and won his team the championship. His 16 first-half points -- 14 unanswered -- in the title game, got Louisville to the half down just one.

Hancock wasn't even recruited out of high school. He had to go to a year of prep school, then got an offer to George Mason, then transferred away from there after Jim Larranaga left -- and took on a role as Louisville's gunner. Now he's one of the least-likely MOP winners of all time.

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