Any concerns that the rest of the country wouldn't take the American Athletic Conference seriously have long been dismissed, at least for the 2013-14 season and as it pertains to basketball. Things might change when Louisville leaves for the Atlantic Coast Conference, but for now there's no disputing that the AAC is legit.
The latest evidence: According to CBSSports.com, three AAC players are among the top-5 names in the country in the running for player of the year. That's absurd.
Details from CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish, who is responsible for the candidate list.
3. Russ Smith (Louisville)
Why he's here: Look at where Smith is on this list, then remember that he was just a two-star recruit coming out of high school who only played 5.6 minutes per game as a freshman. He has developed nicely, huh?
4. Sean Kilpatrick (Cincinnati)
Why he's here: The emergence of Cincinnati as a national threat is largely due to the emergence of Kilpatrick as a great college basketball player. He's averaging a career-high 20.5 points, and he has scored at least 22 in five straight games.
5. Shabazz Napier (Connecticut)
Why he's here: How good are the guards in the American Athletic Conference if Napier can reasonably be ranked as the third best from the league? The senior is shooting a career-high 41.5 percent from 3-point range while averaging 17.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists.
Not surprisingly, Creighton's Doug McDermott and Duke's Jabari Parker are the top two candidates.
Napier, who leads the Huskies in points (17.8), rebounds (5.8), assists (5.5) and steals (1.9), is also up for the Bob Cousy Award, the Naismith Award, the Wooden Award and the Oscar Robertson Trophy.