2. Jae Crowder (2011-2012) vs. 7. Lazar Hayward (2009-2010)
The case for Crowder: It’s not fair to say he came out of nowhere, seeing as his father was a pretty good basketball player himself, but who would have thought a junior-college transfer would dominate the premier conference in the country and put in one of the greatest statistical seasons of the past six year in all of college basketball (No. 7 in John Pudner’s Value Add metric)? The Villa Rica, Georgia, native averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.1 assists this past season, helping to lead the Golden Eagles to their second consecutive Sweet 16 appearance. Basketball-Reference gave Crowder 8.1 Win Shares for this past season, sixth best in the country and the best mark in Marquette history since the statistic was tracked, besting Dwyane Wade’s 2001-’02 mark of 6.8.
The case for Hayward: The more you look back on Hayward’s senior campaign the more astounding it becomes. Yes, he ended up playing with two future NBA players on that team (Butler, Johnson-Odom), but this was his team hands down. Lazar did it all, averaging 18.1 pts, 7.5 reb and 1.5 ast while playing the five on defense as the teams strongest player and leading the Golden Eagles to its 5th straight NCCA Tournament appearance in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Marquette.