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SEC basketball Player of the Year race: Walker Kessler moves up

 Chris Lee   in Basketball

Auburn center Walker Kessler has been an unstoppable force lately. 

Here's how we rank the top 14 candidates for SEC basketball Player of the Year heading into games of Saturday, Jan. 29.

1. Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky: String of amazing stat lines continues with 22 points, 21 rebounds in a win over Mississippi St. 

2. Walker Kessler, Auburn: The Tigers are full of great players, but Kessler may be their most indispensable one. 

3. Jabari Smith, Auburn: It took 20 games before Smith (2-of-15 from the field vs. Missouri) had a bad one. 

4. TyTy Washington, Kentucky: The 'Cats aren't the same without him, and hopefully he's back for Kansas. 

5. Iverson Molinar, Mississippi St.: Was so steady and smooth in nearly willing the Bulldogs to an upset at Rupp Arena this week

6. Tari Eason, LSU: Cramps kept him out of part of the Texas A&M game, and that nearly cost the Tigers. 

7. Santiago Vescovi, Tennessee: 23 points, four assists vs. Florida, and his first-half play kept the Vols survive a miserable period and set up a comeback. 

8. Wendell Green Jr., Auburn: A stat-sheet stuffer who does everything but block shots. 

9. JD Notae, Arkansas: He's leading the league in points (18.9) and steals (2.4) per game. 

10. Darius Days, LSU: The Tigers need that ankle to heal after he missed the win over Texas A&M.

11. Keon Ellis, Alabama: Leads the Crimson Tide in free throw percentage (87.7%), rebounding (6.4) and steals (42).

12. Jaden Shackelford, Alabama: Leads the SEC in minutes played (675) while pacing the 'Tide in scoring (17.1). 

13. Colin Castleton, Florida: He's missed the past four games, so the face he's still listed tells you how good he was in the 16 he's played. 

14. Kellan Grady, Kentucky: He's easily the league's best shooter, and so efficient (63.4% TS%, 1.5 assists to turnovers) while still leading Kentucky in minutes (629).