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Wooden Watch: Frank Mason III tops players' poll

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New face emerges in Wooden race (1:55)

As the season winds down, North Carolina's Justin Jackson enters the top five of the Wooden rankings. Meanwhile, seniors Josh Hart and Frank Mason III make their marks and hold their positions. (1:55)

The players know what's going on, they're some of the biggest fans in college basketball. So here at the Wooden Watch, we decided to present them with a secret ballot.

The Watch polled the 20 players on the late-season list of Wooden Award candidates to see who they would vote for as national player of the year. (To avoid a list of 20 players with one vote each, players were instructed that they could not vote for themselves.)

Like any national election, it's difficult to get 100 percent participation. So the results are based on 18 responses.

And with regards to the Oscars, there will be no envelopes read by mistake over here. The winner wasn't unanimous, but did cultivate 39 percent of the votes cast. Without further ado, the results, please:

In a bit of a shocker, Villanova's Josh Hart, who has been at the top of the Watch for seven of the eight weeks, did not receive any votes. And in the past two seasons, he has played against five of the top 20 candidates, so it's not like he has been playing in a vacuum.

North Carolina's Justin Jackson, UCLA's Lonzo Ball and Florida State's Dwayne Bacon each received one vote. Kansas freshman Josh Jackson received two votes.

We had a tie for first runner-up between Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk and Purdue sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan. Both players received three votes.

That leaves the players' choice, if their votes were cast right now for the Wooden Award: with a total of seven votes, Kansas senior guard Frank Mason III.

1. Frank Mason III, Kansas Jayhawks

Mason closed out his final appearance in Allen Fieldhouse in typical dramatic fashion. He scored 11 of his game-high 23 points during the Jayhawks' furious 31-9 run to close the game and rally to turn a 12-point deficit into a 73-63 win over Oklahoma.

2. Josh Hart, Villanova Wildcats

Hart played one of his least efficient games of the season in the Wildcats' 74-66 loss to Butler. He shot just 7-of-18 from the field, missed all four free throw attempts and had three turnovers to one assist. In Nova's win over Creighton, Hart bounced back with a solid 16-point, seven-rebound performance.

3. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue Boilermakers

Swanigan perhaps played his swan song at Mackey Arena in helping the Boilermakers best rival Indiana 86-75. Swanigan's 21 points were boosted by his 11-for-12 effort from the free throw line. He added 10 rebounds to help Purdue stay in first place in the Big Ten with one game remaining.

4. Lonzo Ball, UCLA Bruins

Wins against Arizona State and Arizona last week showed why Ball doesn't have to score to be effective for the Bruins. He scored a season-low four points against the Sun Devils, but tied the game high with 11 rebounds. Ball dished out eight assists to go with 11 points in their win over the Wildcats.

5. Justin Jackson, North Carolina Tar Heels

Without Jackson's consistent scoring this season, no way the Heels would be in first place in the ACC. He delivered a pair of big games with 21 and 23 points, respectively, in wins over Louisville and Pittsburgh. He was held to just seven points in UNC's lowest scoring game in nearly 40 years, a 53-43 loss at Virginia.

Honorable mentions