The Bob Cousy Award list has been narrowed from the initial field of 80 to 23 semifinalists, and Harvard’s Siyani Chambers and UMass’ Chaz Williams have made the cut, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced on Monday.
That means close to one-10th of the players who remain in the running for the honor of best point guard in the country play ball for Massachusetts schools.
Ken Kaufman, former president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and current chair of the Bob Cousy Award, said all of the finalists are deserving of consideration.
“The men on this list all have the athletic qualities of an exceptional true point guard in the game of college basketball, the same qualities that made Mr. Cousy an iconic player,” Kaufman said in a statement.
The Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2012-13, Chambers is averaging 11 points, 4.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. He ranks second in the Ancient Eight in assists per game (4.3), third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.7), seventh in steals per game (1.3) and 10th in both 3-point field goal percentage (39.6 percent) and 3-pointers made per game (1.7).
Chambers has the Crimson offense humming this season, at 72.8 points per game just one-10th of a point behind Princeton for tops in the Ivy League, and combined with Tommy Amaker’s usual strong defense, Harvard has hit 20 wins for the fifth consecutive season at 20-4 (7-1 Ivy) with six games to go.
The Golden Valley, Minn., native is the first Ivy Leaguer to make the final 20 since Penn’s Zach Rosen in 2011-12 and the first Harvard player to make it this far since Jeremy Lin in 2009-10.
Williams, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound sparkplug responsible for starting the Minutemen’s offense, is third in the country in assists per game (7.3) and eighth in the country in kenpom.com’s assist rate (38.1).
The senior is averaging 15.4 points (11th in the Atlantic 10) and 2.9 rebounds to go with his 7.3 assists a game.
Despite a stumble in A-10 play that knocked UMass out of the Top 25, Williams and the Minutemen are positioned well for a shot at the Big Dance at 20-5 (7-4 A-10) with five games to play in the conference slate.
The Cousy Award list will be narrowed to five by fan voting, which opens Tuesday and ends March 10, and the winner will be chosen by the Cousy Award selection committee and announced on Championship Monday.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.