This has proved to be a difficult season to handicap Player of the Year candidates.

While Alabama is consistently mentioned as the best team in the SEC, and escaped with a win over Vanderbilt on Saturday, the Crimson Tide have a balanced roster, and lack a bona fide breakaway star. ESPN writer Myron Medcalf has taken the task of listing the Player of the Year candidates for each conference entering Saturday’s action, including the SEC.

Medcalf named Cameron Thomas of LSU, who had 16 points by halftime on Saturday against Auburn, as the front-runner, and Tre Mann of Florida as his top competition. Here’s the explanation:

“We watched Thomas (22.6 PPG) demonstrate his significance to Will Wade’s NCAA tournament aspirations over the past two games, as the guard averaged 25.0 PPG (10-for-17 inside the arc) in back-to-back wins over Mississippi State and Tennessee, both by double-digit margins. He has scored 17 points or more in nine consecutive games for an LSU squad that entered the week as a No. 8 seed in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology.”

By early in the second half against Georgia, Mann was the only Florida starter in double figures. Medcalf explained why he’s in the mix.

“Mann has been a critical player for a program that had to weather the absence of Keyontae Johnson, who recently announced he would not return after collapsing during a matchup against rival Florida State in December. Prior to the team’s Dec. 3 pause, it had won four of its previous five games as Mann (14.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.8 APG, 1.5 SPG), who has made 38% of his 3-pointers in league play, blossomed and helped Florida maintain its postseason hopes during a difficult season for Mike White’s program.”