While this may be college basketball’s Year of the Freshman, it is a senior who is the sport’s very best player. The attention and hype foisted upon this season’s freshman class is well-deserved.

With Kansas’ Andrew Wiggans and Joel Embiid, Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Arizona’s Aaron Gordon it is one of the most talented collections ever. Freshmen will very likely make up more than half of the first 10 picks in the NBA draft.

Yet none of them is likely to surpass Creighton senior Doug McDermott for the John Wooden Award as college basketball’s most outstanding player. The 6-8 small forward doesn’t leave people talking about “upside” and “potential” because he already is realizing both. The Bluejays’ leading scorer is averaging 24.8 points and has been stunningly consistent in a way that none of the freshman has.

He is the biggest reason that the Bluejays (17-3) have rocketed to the top of the Big East standings in their debut season in the conference. They next play Tuesday night at 9 when they host St. John’s.

“I think he’s the best player in the country,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said last Monday after his then-No. 4 Wildcats suffered a 28-point obliteration at the hands of Creighton in Philadelphia. “I love his combination of skill and intelligence. It seems like he rarely takes a bad shot.”

“He’s the best in the country because of his experience, ability to play inside and out and the way he doesn’t stop the other (Creighton) players from doing what they do best,” DePaul coach Oliver Purnell said.

McDermott is in line for the Wooden Award because he opted for a road less traveled. After last season ended with Creighton’s loss to Duke in the NCAA Tournament third round, McDermott could have gone to the NBA and been a first-round pick. Instead he liked the idea of playing one more season with his current teammates, one more year for his father, Jays coach Greg McDermott, and the opportunity to play in a big-time conference like the Big East.

“I remember the flight home pretty much basically in tears thinking that it could be all over. Seeing (senior) Grant Gibbs to the left of me and being all emotional too know it was his last game,” McDermott said. “We’re a brotherhood here and it played a huge part in it.”

When Jays’ top assist man Gibbs was granted another full year of eligibility — because of injuries that cost him his first year after transferring from Gonzaga — McDermott gave up his scholarship so that Gibbs could have it and became a walk-on. Quantifying McDermott’s value to the rest of the team isn’t always easy, though his assist average has doubled in the five games since Gibbs went out with a knee injury. Ethan Wragge, who is shooting 50% on 3-pointers, explained it this way: “He draws a lot of attention and if it wasn’t for him . . . I wouldn’t get open looks. I am not creating these shots myself.”

Creighton not only makes the most 3-pointers in the country, it also shoots the highest percentage. It is expected to make its second appearance in the Top 25 on Monday afternoon.

“Playing in games like this was definitely in the back of my mind the whole time,” McDermott said of the win over Villanova. “The NBA is great, making money playing basketball, but I get as much satisfaction playing with some of my friends here.”