College basketball rankings players

College basketball rankings players DEFAULT

ESPN

RKPLAYERPOSHOMETOWNHTWTSTARSGRADESCHOOL1SGGlendale, AZ
Dream City Christian6'5''95
Kentucky
Committed
09/07/
2CChester, PA
Westtown School7'1''94
3SGBradenton, FL
IMG Academy6'3''94
Baylor
Committed
08/08/
4SGChatsworth, CA
Sierra Canyon High School6'4''94
5SFMontverde, FL
Montverde Academy6'6''94
6SGJacksonville, AR
North Little Rock High School6'4''93
Arkansas
Committed
09/29/
7SFOak Cliff, TX
Link Year Prep6'7''938PGRochester, NY
IMG Academy6'2''93
Alabama
Committed
09/30/
9PGRichardson, TX
Richardson High School6'3''9210CWeesttown, NY
Wilbraham & Monson Academy6'10''92
11CSan Antonio, TX
Montverde Academy7'0''92
12SFAkron, OH
Oak Hill Academy6'6''91
Kentucky
Committed
09/15/
13SFAntioch, TN
Cane Ridge High School6'7''9114SFBlythewood, SC
Link Year Prep6'7''91
15PGLakewood, CA
Prolific Prep6'3''90
Oregon
Committed
06/22/
16SGNashville, TN
Montverde Academy6'2''90
Kentucky
Committed
10/22/
17CWindsor, CA
Prolific Prep6'9''9018SFSpring Hill, FL
Montverde Academy6'7''9019PFBradenton, FL
IMG Academy6'7''9020SFDurham, NC
Prolific Prep6'5''89
Kansas
Committed
08/10/
21PFPalmetto, FL
IMG Academy6'6''8922CGary, IN
West Side High School6'9''89
N Carolina
Committed
07/10/
23CHialeah Gardens, FL
Montverde Academy6'8''89
Florida
Committed
09/01/
24PGMontverde, FL
Montverde Academy6'5''89
Indiana
Committed
08/24/
25SFWichita, KS
Sunrise Christian Academy6'7''89
Kansas
Committed
03/03/
26SFCoppell, TX
Coppell High School6'6''8927SGBaldwinsville, NY
La Lumiere School6'3''89
Notre Dame
Committed
10/12/
28SGFarmington, UT
Farmington High School6'4''8929CGlendale, AZ
Dream City Christian6'9''8930PFShawnee Mission, KS
Sunrise Christian Academy6'8''8931PGDallas, TX
Justin F. Kimball High School6'3''89
32PGPhoenix, AZ
Hillcrest Prep6'5''8833CSaint Louis, MO
Link Year Prep6'9''88
Michigan
Committed
08/05/
34SFIndianapolis, IN
Prolific Prep6'7''8835SFLos Angeles, CA
Prolific Prep6'5''8836PFSevern, MD
Archbishop Spalding High School6'7''88
Villanova
Committed
10/07/
37CLos Angeles, CA
Sierra Canyon High School6'8''88
38COrlando, FL
Dr. Phillips High School6'10''8839CNorth Little Rock, AR
North Little Rock High School7'0''88
Oregon
Committed
08/09/
40CAmerican Fork, UT
Southern California Academy6'9''87
Michigan St
Committed
09/19/
41SFMiami, FL
IMG Academy6'7''8742PFBradenton, FL
IMG Academy6'8''87
43SFWashington, DC
Oak Hill Academy6'4''87
Pittsburgh
Committed
06/18/
44PGMenomonee Falls, WI
Menomonee Falls High School6'1''87
N Carolina
Committed
06/23/
45PFGrand Island, NE
Grand Island High School6'8''87
Virginia
Committed
08/28/
46PFPhoenix, AZ
AZ Compass Prep6'8''8747SGYorkville, IL
Yorkville High School6'4''86
48SGClinton, MD
DeMatha Catholic High School6'3''8649PFSaginaw, MI
Grand Blanc High School6'6''8650PGMilton, GA
Milton High School6'1''86
Ohio State
Committed
11/26/
51PGChandler, AZ
AZ Compass Prep6'4''86
52PGLas Vegas, NV
Dream City Christian6'3''8553PGBel Aire, KS
Sunrise Christian Academy6'3''85
Baylor
Committed
02/04/
54CFort Lauderdale, FL
Calvary Christian Academy6'9''85
55SFHyattsville, MD
DeMatha Catholic High School6'6''85
Xavier
Committed
07/12/
56SGJersey City, NJ
The Patrick School6'4''8557PFChicago, IL
Whitney Young High School6'7''8558CBristol, CT
Bristol Central High School7'1''85
59CBranson, MO
Link Year Prep6'10''85
Ohio State
Committed
07/26/
60SGBrooksville, FL
Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School6'2''84
Houston
Committed
05/14/
61SGBuffalo Grove, IL
The Skill Factory Prep School6'4''84
Xavier
Committed
07/01/
62PGWashington, DC
Paul VI High School5'9''84
Michigan
Committed
06/17/
63PFAsheville, NC
Christ School6'9''84
Florida St
Committed
10/05/
64SFNiagara Falls, NY
Wasatch Academy6'4''84
Ohio State
Committed
11/13/
65PGJersey City, NJ
Saint Peter's Prep6'2''84
Villanova
Committed
04/08/
66CRoebuck, SC
Dorman High School6'9''8467PGMemphis, TN
Bartlett High School6'2''83
Memphis
Committed
01/01/
68SGMagnolia, AR
Magnolia High School6'3''83
Arkansas
Committed
07/14/
69PFStilwell, KS
Blue Valley High School6'8''83
Missouri
Committed
09/17/
70SFBeaumont, TX
Beaumont United High School6'6''83
71SGPoca, WV
Poca High School6'3''83
Virginia
Committed
01/31/
72SFRichardson, TX
Richardson High School6'5''8373SFWauwatosa, WI
Wauwatosa East High School6'6''83
Virginia
Committed
07/31/
74SFBradenton, FL
IMG Academy6'6''83
George Mason
Committed
09/17/
75PFOrlando, FL
Orlando Christian Prep6'7''8376SFMobile, AL
McGill-Toolen Catholic High School6'6''83
Arkansas
Committed
07/05/
77PFGarland, TX
Garland High School6'7''82
Kansas
Committed
07/01/
78PGLas Vegas, NV
Coronado High School6'2''82
Texas Tech
Committed
09/09/
79CCenterville, OH
La Lumiere School6'9''82
Penn State
Committed
09/18/
80CPlano, TX
Sunrise Christian Academy6'9''82
Florida St
Committed
09/12/
81PFFayetteville, GA
Fayette County High School6'8''82
Indiana
Committed
07/23/
82PGSouth Saint Paul, MN
Cretin-Derham Hall High School6'2''82
Michigan St
Committed
08/07/
83PGGahanna, OH
Lincoln High School5'10''82
Marquette
Committed
08/13/
84CGilbert, AZ
Perry High School6'11''82
Arizona
Committed
04/16/
85SFClinton, MS
Clinton High School6'7''8286PFElkton, VA
East Rockingham High School6'8''82
N Carolina
Committed
09/15/
87SFWashington, DC
St. John's College High School6'6''82
88SFRichmond, VA
Varina High School6'6''82
89SFSomerset, NJ
Blair Academy6'4''8290PGNorthfield, MA
Northfield-Mt. Hermon School6'4''82
Nrthwestrn
Committed
08/30/
91PGBoston, MA
Brewster Academy6'3''82
92SGGladstone, NJ
Gill St. Bernard's School6'1''82
Georgetown
Committed
07/28/
93SGMorrilton, AR
Morrilton High School6'6''82
Arkansas
Committed
10/23/
94SGSuffolk, VA
Combine Academy6'1''82
Illinois
Committed
07/13/
95SFLas Vegas, NV
IMG Academy6'6''82
St. John's
Committed
08/04/
96SFTerry, MS
Terry High School6'7''82
97SFMount Pleasant, UT
Wasatch Academy6'6''8298CLos Angeles, CA
Southern California Academy6'9''8299SGFort Wayne, IN
Homestead High School6'3''82
Purdue
Committed
11/23/
SFCharlottesville, VA
IMG Academy6'6''82
Syracuse
Committed
06/26/
Sours: http://www.espn.com/college-sports/basketball/recruiting/playerrankings

Top Players

Ky McKeon

-Jim Root, Ky McKeon, Matt Cox

We are BACK with the fourth edition of our Top Players in college basketball, a labor of love that always brings out the best in both us and our dear readers.

The ranking process remained very similar: Matt, Ky, and Jim each assembled their own list of top players (this time, we stretched it out to to ensure our Honorable Mention was sound); then, using a HIGHLY scientific scoring system (rank of 1 = points, 2 = points, , = 1 point), we consolidated our rankings into the master list of (plus HM) that you see below.

Ranking players is always going to be an inherently murky exercise. How big a factor is winning? How do you compare the 4th-best player for a top 5 squad with the best player for a top 45 one? How the hell do you measure defensive impact? The nebulous answers to these questions leave a ton of room for debate and disagreement, and you’ll see in our individual rankings that we can be all over the map on certain guys. Also of note: role matters. While someone like Zach Edey might warrant higher placement in a vacuum, we are factoring in that he will likely play 15ish MPG behind Trevion Williams.

As per usual, we will sort through the feedback on a podcast episode in the future, and we included who was high and who was low so that you can direct your own fury appropriately.  

Enough intro - let’s get to 3MW's fourth annual Top Player Rankings:

Honorable Mention (in order, )

Samuell Williamson, F, Jr, Louisville
Eli Scott, F, R Sr., Loyola Marymount
Evan Battey, F, Colorado
Zach Edey, C, So., Purdue
Joey Hauser, F, R Sr., Michigan St.
Tyrece Radford, G, R Jr., Texas A&M
Peyton Watson, G/F, Fr., UCLA
K.D. Johnson, G, So., Auburn
Zach Freemantle, F, Jr., Xavier
Storm Murphy, G, R Sr., Virginia Tech
Josiah-Jordan James, G, Jr., Tennessee
Landers Nolley, G, R Jr., Memphis
Fatts Russell, G, R Sr., Maryland
Allen Flanigan, G, Jr., Auburn
Chuck Harris, G, So., Butler
Marcus Bagley, F, So., Arizona St.
Grant Golden, C, R Sr., Richmond
Geo Baker, G, R Sr., Rutgers
AJ Griffin, F, Fr., Duke
Garrison Brooks, F, R Sr., Mississippi St.
Courtney Ramey, G, Sr., Texas
Kevin Obanor, F, Sr., Texas Tech
Hunter Sallis, G, Fr., Gonzaga
Chris Lykes, G, R Sr., Arkansas
Jared Rhoden, G/F, Sr., Seton Hall

John Fulkerson, F, Tennessee

Yes, he’s still there. A dirty Omar Payne elbow rudely ended Fulkerson’s senior season, but he’s back for a revenge tour thanks to the extra COVID year. His absence clearly impact the Vols’ ability to defend the paint and execute offensively, and getting him back to pair with the rest of a talented roster should maintain a high floor in Knoxville.

Tyson Walker, G, Michigan St.

The CAA’s Defensive Player of the Year and the engine that drove Northeastern, Walker now sets his sights on the Big Ten where he’ll be counted on to run point for the Spartans.

Mike Miles, G, TCU

Please buckle your seatbelts and prepare for take off. After pacing the USA FIBA U19 team to a gold medal this summer, TCU’s scintillating sophomore floor general is all growns up.

Kyler Edwards, G, Houston

A significant three-year contributor for Chris Beard, Edwards journeys across Texas to play for another defensive mastermind in Kelvin Sampson. Teammate Tramon Mark probably has higher upside, but Edwards is a steady, consistent presence who will keep the Cougars among the top 15 or so nationally.

Bryce Hamilton, G, UNLV

The ultimate enigma, ranking Hamilton inside our top may be an unpopular opinion. Team struggles notwithstanding, Hamilton’s proven he’s an incendiary scorer. He’ll look to translate that to the win column under a new regime in

Nate Watson, C, Providence

Now in his fifth season as a Friar, Watson will need to be a monster in the paint if Ed Cooley & Co. want to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Watson is an outstanding interior scorer, but to reach his ceiling as a player, he needs to become a more consistent defensive rebounder at his size.

Noah Williams, G, Washington St.

Williams went Super Saiyan in Isaac Bonton’s absence, highlighted by a late February 36 PPG two-game average and a ridiculous 12/24 3P clip. With Bonton gone Williams is the undisputed leader of a Wazzu team looking to get to its first Dance since

Jabari Walker, F, Colorado

Walker is set to explode in his sophomore season and prove his point NCAA Tournament outburst against Georgetown was no fluke. With NBA teams catching on, it’s possible this will be the final season we’ll see the talented forward in Boulder.

AJ Green, G, Northern Iowa

Did you forget about him? No, this is not Joseph ‘Blue’ Pulaski, but AJ is the recent recipient of not one but TWO brand new plastic hips! Deep cut ‘Old School’ jokes aside, Green has a veteran-laden Northern Iowa squad eyeing the MVC crown in

Kendall Brown, F, Baylor

To the victor goes the spoils. The reigning national champs have big shoes to fills but Scotty Drew is backfilling with blue-chip talent, headlined by Brown, one of the bounciest rookies in the cycle.

Eric Ayala, G, Maryland

Ayala led a surprisingly good Terps squad in scoring last season. He’ll be the senior leader on a team many think will be top good this year.

DeVante’ Jones, G, Michigan

Jones was the Sun Belt Player of the Year in for the Chanticleers of Coastal Carolina. He’ll look to repeat the success of former Columbia transfer Mike Smith and lead Michigan to a top seed in March.

Walker Kessler, F/C, Auburn

Stuck behind three other talented bigs in the UNC rotation, Kessler struggled to deliver on his immense potential and high recruiting pedigree, but he flashed enough “wow” moments (such as dominating Florida State in a home win) to see that the talent was certainly still there. Now the anchor in the paint for Auburn, he is due for a massive breakout season, and the Tigers’ postseason absence should be extremely short-lived.

Anthony Polite, G, Florida St.

Devin Vassell. Raiquan Gray. Anthony Polite? The Noles are dripping with talent, per usual, but Polite’s stock arrow is pointing right at the moon – is he the next breakout in Tallahassee?

Mark Williams, C, Duke

A lone bright spot in Duke’s misery, Williams was a monster down the stretch. Over the final six games of his rookie campaign, Williams averaged 17 points, 7 boards and 2 swats a contest.

Jordan Bohannon, G, Iowa

J-Bo is back for his 20th season with the Hawkeyes. Already the program’s all-time assist leader, the point guard now looks to climb the scoring ranks – a healthy season likely means a spot behind just Luka Garza and Roy Marble on the all-time ranks.

Iverson Molinar, G, Mississippi St.

Mississippi State’s athletic floor leader missed the first three games of the season with an asymptomatic COVID diagnosis, but he came out firing once past that, asserting himself as one of the SEC’s best scorers after adding a deadly three-ball to his game. The Bulldogs’ new additions are getting most of the attention, but if they find themselves back in the Big Dance after a two-year absence, Molinar will be the most significant reason why.

Kihei Clark, G, Virginia

The little engine that could who just won’t go away, yes, Virginia’s mini-maestro is still around. Despite standing 5’10 on his tippy toes, Clark’s ability to stuff the stat sheet is remarkable. If the Hoos push for an ACC title, you can bet Clark’s fingerprints will be all over it.

Jamaree Bouyea, G, San Francisco

Beware the Dons in ! Todd Golden brings everyone back for another shot at the NCAA Tournament including leading scorer and 1st Team All-WCC performer Jamaree Bouyea. He may not be a household name quite yet, but rest assured his notoriety will grow this season.

Quincy Guerrier, F, Oregon

Guerrier left the Carrier Dome and headed west to Oregon fresh off an All-ACC caliber season. He’s one of a handful of Duck transfers looking to boost their squad to a Pac 12 championship and a Final Four appearance.

Jacob Gilyard, G, Richmond

Despite his size, Gilyard is a devastating two-way force at the point guard spot, and if he stays healthy, he’ll become the NCAA’s all-time leader in steals this season. Injuries thwarted Richmond’s high hopes last year, but almost everyone is back from the core that had top 25 hype last year, and Gilyard’s leadership, scoring, and defense are crucial parts of getting the Spiders to deliver on that potential this time around.

Keith Williams, G, Western Kentucky

One of the last high-impact transfers to make his decision, Williams immediately becomes a C-USA Player of the Year candidate after a tremendously productive four-year career at Cincinnati. He became a legitimate go-to scorer as a senior, and when paired with his outstanding defensive prowess, he gives Western Kentucky a star capable of leading the Hilltoppers to conference title.

R.J. Cole, G, UConn

Cole pulled off the difficult feat of maintaining his high-level efficiency while transferring up from the MEAC to the Big East, and he helped keep the Huskies’ offense remain afloat while James Bouknight was hurt. Per Hoop-Explorer, his usage, efficiency, and assist rate all rose when Bouknight went to the bench, evidencing that he can replace the decorated lottery pick as the Huskies’ alpha.  

Kadary Richmond, G, Seton Hall

A dynamic slasher and defender, Richmond’s athletic game should blossom at Seton Hall after injuries limited his playing time at Syracuse (or so Jim Boeheim claimed). He should slot in as the Pirates’ primary creator now that Sandro Mamukelashvili and Shavar Reynolds are gone, and the Big East All-Defense team should probably reserve a spot for him, as well.

Osun Osunniyi, F/C, St. Bonaventure

The Olean Enforcer. The Shoon of Swat. The Bonnie Blocker. Call him whatever you want, but Osunniyi is one of the best rim protectors in the entire country, often taking away the rim as a scoring option entirely when he’s on the court. He’s also a powerful finisher and active rebounder, and he’ll be a pivotal part of any deep postseason run for the much-hyped Bonnies.

Jermaine Samuels, F, Villanova

Samuels was quietly one of the most efficient players in the country last season, expanding his scoring repertoire while also continuing to an impactful rebounder and hyper-versatile defender. His return for a 5th season in Philly is a huge part of why Nova fans are dreaming of a third NCAA title in seven years.

Justin Moore, G, Villanova

Moore struggled with his jumper last year and saw his late-season effectiveness limited by an ankle injury, but he’s a savvy playmaker who was most productive in the Wildcats’ biggest games last year (19 points at Texas, in a win vs. Creighton, etc.). With Jeremiah Robinson-Earl gone, Villanova’s ceiling likely involves Moore stepping up another level as an upperclassman.

Devo Davis, G, Arkansas

Davis did not play a ton to start the season, but his aggressive game on both ends of the court eventually forced Eric Musselman to slot him in the starting lineup, and the young Razorback did not look back. He did some of his best work in the NCAA Tournament, buoying hopes for a massive sophomore breakout campaign, and if he adds a perimeter shot (only 2-for from 3P range), the sky is the limit.  

Posh Alexander, G, St. John’s

Already a co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Big East as a freshman, the powerfully-built Alexander need only to develop his jumper to evolve into an all-conference star. He’s a blur in the open floor and a strong driver, and he perfectly embodies the physical, aggressive style that Mike Anderson wants from his Red Storm.

Antoine Davis, G, Detroit

After a one-year hiatus from our Top player ranks, we welcome back baby Davis to the exclusive club. Refurbished by an upgraded supporting cast (Thanks dad!), Davis went bananas on Horizon defenses last year.

Azuolas Tubelis, F, Arizona

Rising sophomore Azuolas Tubelis is Arizona’s returning leading scorer and rebounder. A PPG / RPG earned him Pac 12 HM All-Conference and All-Freshman honors in He’s one of many reasons to be excited about the Cats under new head coach Tommy Lloyd.

Michael Devoe, G, Georgia Tech

Mike had himself a *nice* lil season last year. His running mate Jose Alvarado is gone, as is interior destroyer Moses Wright, leaving Devoe as the primary engine of the GT offense.

Harrison Ingram, F, Stanford

Freshman wing Harrison Ingram is a top 20 5-star recruit, future NBA 1st rounder, and potentially the best player on the Cardinal this season. Stanford comes into with mild expectations – Ingram can blow those wide open.

Ron Harper Jr., F, Rutgers

Harper was literally one of the best players in the country the first seven games of He averaged 22 PPG and RPG over that span and was the undisputed alpha of a physical Rutgers squad. Though his production tailed off last season Harper is still one of the better players in the country and the Scarlet Knights’ best hope for a return to the NCAA Tournament.

Kyle Lofton, G, St. Bonaventure

If St. Bonaventure was playing basketball for the last three years, Kyle Lofton was on the court. He’s ranked 20th, 5th, and 1st nationally in percentage of minutes played, and he’s a commanding on-ball presence that controls the game from his point guard spot. If he can re-discover his perimeter shot, (just 24% last year), he could make a run at Atlantic 10 Player of the Year while leading the Bonnies to another NCAA Tournament appearance – and possibly beyond.

Darius Days, F, LSU

The lone leftover from LSU’s fearsome foursome of offensive threats, Days steps into more of an alpha role for the Tigers this year. Adam Miller and Xavier Pinson will get plenty of shots up as well, but Days has proven to be a consistent threat from both inside and out.

David Roddy, F, Colorado St.

Built like Sir Charles Barkley, Roddy is truly one-of-a-kind. Watch him grab-n-go to ignite the fast break or swallow up soft shots at the rim, Roddy does it all for the tournament hopeful Rams.

Jaime Jaquez, G/F, UCLA

UCLA’s unsung and (perhaps) underappreciated hero was a 2nd Team All-Pac 12 and All-Defensive Team member in He’ll play an integral part in the Bruins’ bid for a second straight Final Four, though his higher scoring teammate may garner more attention.

JD Davison, G, Alabama

A devastating athlete at the point guard spot, Davison should flourish in the transition-heavy Nate Oats offense. He should also be a nightmare to stop one-on-one, another Oats staple, and along with Jahvon Quinerly, Jaden Shackelford, Nimari Burnett, and Keon Ellis, he is part of one of the best backcourts in the entire country.

Caleb Mills, G, Florida St.

We didn’t see much of the former Houston super-sub sniper in Arguably Kelvin Sampson’s best all-around scorer as a rookie, Mills now heads to the panhandle, where Leonard Hamilton is giddy about his new toy.

Isaiah Mobley, F, USC

The “other” Mobley quietly put together a solid campaign of his own last season, averaging a near-double-double and providing solid interior defense. The former 5-star prospect enters his third season with the Trojans looking to climb up NBA Draft boards in likely his final year in college.

Jabari Smith, F, Auburn

Perhaps the least-discussed top 15 recruit in the country, Smith is a mega-skilled forward who should perfectly complement Walker Kessler in the Auburn frontcourt. He’s also plenty mobile to play in Bruce Pearl’s up-tempo attack, and his perimeter stroke may be crucial to unlocking the Tigers’ spacing. Certainly a candidate to blow away this ranking.

Caleb Love, G, North Carolina

Note: Ranking above not based on prior year performance
Does Hubert Davis have the magic wand to break the hex on Love’s jumpshot? His talent kit has all the bells and whistles but consistency was MIA during Love’s rookie season.

Oscar Tshiebwe, F, Kentucky

Apologies to Aidan Ighieon, but this is college basketball’s Hulk. Tshiebwe may be better at offensive rebounding than any other college basketball player is at any specific skill, and his tireless work ethic and unrelenting physicality adds an element to the Kentucky frontcourt that it simply lacked a season ago. Opposing training staffs, get the ice baths ready.

DeAndre Williams, F, Memphis

The freshmen are getting all the pub (and the higher rankings here), but Williams may be the Tigers’ most important piece. He stabilized the Memphis offense as a deft high post initiator last season, and his multi-faceted game should be on full display alongside such uber-talented teammates. He’s also an outstanding individual and team defender, and he’ll be content to fly under the radar if it results in team success.

Kenneth Lofton Jr., F, Louisiana Tech

What started as a fun curiosity in Ruston evolved into an opponent-crushing wrecking ball, and Lofton’s performance with the FIBUA U19 squad this summer cemented his place among the best in all of mid-major college hoops. If he can help Louisiana Tech to its first NCAA berth since , the svelte center will become a true national sensation.

Sahvir Wheeler, G, Kentucky

Wheeler elevated his game after being the magician’s assistant next to Anthony Edwards for a year, and he now faces a new challenge of taking his game to the pressure cooker that is Big Blue Nation. His speed and high-level court vision should serve him well alongside more talented teammates.

Colin Castleton, F, Florida

An afterthought in Ann Arbor, Castleton pulled a reverse Juwan Howard and took his talents to Florida, where he blossomed into one of the SEC’s best big men. He’s a skilled finisher and a legitimate weapon as a rim protector, and he should be the Gators’ go-to guy in his second season in Gainesville.

Jayden Gardner, F, Virginia

Stuck under a rock at East Carolina, Gardner now gets to strut his stuff with the big boys. His old man game will be just what the doctor ordered for Tony Bennett and company, who just waved farewell to three hyper efficient scorers.

Andrew Jones, G, Texas

The easiest guy to root for in the sport, Jones’ inspirational story is in the rear view but never forgotten. He’s one of the few incumbents sticking around in Austin as the Chris Beard era begins to take hold.

Paul Scruggs, G, Xavier

After three somewhat underwhelming seasons under Travis Steele, Xavier is happy to welcome back Scruggs, who is using his COVID year to return the Musketeers to the NCAA Tournament. He took his game to another level last season, particularly as a playmaker nearly doubling his assist rate and becoming a true floor leader for the Musketeers. If Steele is to punch his first ticket to the Big Dance, Scruggs will play a pivotal part in it.

Buddy Boeheim, G, Syracuse

The Boeheim’s headline a ‘Brady Bunch’ spin off. Now, daddy (Jim) and big bro (also Jim! well, sort of) get a front row seat to Buddy’s sweet, sweet shooting. At this point, another deep Orange tourney run feels inevitable, doesn’t it?

David McCormack, F, Kansas

Following in Doke’s footsteps wasn’t great for ‘D Mac’ s PR but he’s still one of the most dominant bigs the college game has to offer. After a second half breakout last year, you know Bill Self wants to feed him like a hungry hungry hippo in

Grant Sherfield, G, Nevada

Even his bad shots tickle the twine…

One of the coolest customers around, Sherfield dictates the game on his terms – and they’re non-negotiable.

Jalen Wilson, F, Kansas

With the breakout hoopla behind him, Wilson must now go to work with a target on his back. This 6’8 power wing is a chore to keep out of the lane.

Tyger Campbell, G, UCLA

The steady heartbeat of the Bruins’ Cinderella run, Tyger Campbell proved he was one of the nation’s best point guards last year posting a % assist rate with a miniscule % TO rate. He’s the rock-solid leader at the point of attack every program in America wishes they had.

Tyson Etienne, G, Wichita St.

The reigning AAC Co-Player of the Year, Etienne went through the NBA Draft process but ultimately decided to return to Wichita. His perimeter marksmanship is unquestioned, but if he can get to the rim with more frequency and become a consistent playmaker for others, he will not be returning to school for his senior year. Oh, and he helped the Shockers win a regular season championship a year ago, as well.

James Akinjo, G, Baylor

Replacing Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler? No thanks, I’ll pass…
Mr. Akinjo is a braver man than most. He arrives in the Lone Star state riding high off a stellar junior season under the ‘Tucson’ sun.

TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky

Just one year ago, Washington was ranked 74th in ’s composite rankings and was about to receive the Creighton offer to which he would initially commit. Now, he’s a unanimous 5-star gem tasked with fueling Kentucky’s resurgence to the national elite. Fortunately, he has the game and the swagger to do just that, and he could skyrocket a la Jalen Suggs if things break right for him.

Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas

An irreplaceable cog in the Kansas machine, Agbaji is as steady as they come. One could argue he’s Kansas’ 4th best player (*gasp*), a scary proposition for Big adversaries.

Jalen Duren, C, Memphis

When Duren dunks, the ground shakes. A physical marvel with a mean streak, Duren will be the paint thunder to Emoni Bates’ perimeter lightning, and along with the rest of the talented Tiger roster, he will look to take Penny Hardaway’s program into the great beyond of the NCAA Tournament for the first time.

Javonte Perkins, G/F, Saint Louis

The likely preseason Player of the Year in the Atlantic 10, the Billikens are now Perkins’ show following the departures of program pillars Hasahn French and Jordan Goodwin. Perkins is a dynamic three-level scorer and stout defender, and if he shows well enough in his final campaign, a future as an NBA 3-and-D guy seems well within the realm of possibility.

Will Richardson, G, Oregon

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The top 25 players in college basketball for

ByKevin Flaherty

Thursday night marks the NBA Draft, and with it the exit of many of the stars of this past college basketball season. But those vacations have left plenty of room for the next generation of talent, and the pool of players looks to be pretty well stocked.

Picking this year's best players brings an added challenge. Recent history tells us that immediately eligible transfers typically don't play to their previous level at their new stops. There are a number of reasons for this: new setting, new coaches, new system, new fit with a team and in some cases, said player is transferring to a different level of competition. And that's all well and good, except that with the mass proliferation of transfers either already cleared or set to be cleared for immediate eligibility for the NCAA this year, someone, somewhere — likely multiple someones — is set to be the exception to that rule.

So we've tried to take that into account in the ranking. Sure, there are some players who perhaps might have been top 25 players at their previous stops who aren't now because their fits will be different. Take new Michigan point guard DeVante' Jones. Had he stayed at Coastal Carolina, he might have made the list, but he appears due for a more complementary role with the Wolverines, a role he should fill well, but won't likely leave him pushing for as many honors by year's end.

NOTE: This is a projection, and is solely based on where they'll be in college this season. So a high-potential prospect who is destined for the lottery but won't be as impactful on his college team probably didn't make the cut.

With all that in mind, here's a list of the top 25 college basketball players for the season.

No first-year players were picked for the list, but here are six freshmen who could make a push to become one of college basketball's top 25 players at some point this season.

Paolo Banchero, Duke
Perhaps no freshman is as college-ready as Banchero, the No. 2 overall player in the Sports Composite, and he could be a frontrunner to stand out as the nation’s best first-year player.

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
At 7-foot and pounds and a high comfort level handling the ball and shooting from the outside, Holmgren truly is a unicorn. How the top-ranked player in the Sports Composite factors in next to Drew Timme will be fascinating to watch.

Jabari Smith, Auburn
The No. 4 player in the Sports Compsite, and No. 3 player in the class to hit college, Smith steps into a fun situation with North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler and could feast on matchup problems.

Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee
The No. 6 player in the Sports Composite and top-ranked point guard, Chandler should helm the point guard spot for Rick Barnes, who fares best when he has a point guard he can turn loose.

JD Davison, Alabama
It’s unclear which Alabama guard — Davison, Jaden Shackelford or Jahvon Quinerly — will emerge as the Crimson Tide’s best. But in an up-tempo system, Davison will get every chance to show off his ability to get up and down the court. No. 10 in the Sports Composite.

TyTy Washington, Kentucky
Kentucky has a number of newcomers arriving. But at No. 12 in the Sports Composite, Washington is the highest-rated freshman, and he plays a hard-nosed point guard. Washington likely won’t be Kentucky’s best player early in the season, but he could follow Tyler Herro’s trajectory and be among the team’s most indispensable pieces heading into March.

Keyontae Johnson, Florida
No list would be complete without last year’s preseason SEC Player of the Year. The first-team All-SEC pick is a tough player to defend at 6-foot-5 and pounds, and he’d be higher on this list if he weren’t coming back from a heart condition. Without knowing at what level he’ll return this year, he wins a spot on this list, and here’s hoping we get to see Johnson at his best. He’s a heck of a player who averaged points and rebounds in the three full games he played before collapsing.

Matt Bradley, San Diego State
The California transfer looks part linebacker at and pounds. But he’s a basketball player who’s a career % 3-point shooter and who produced and points per game over the last two seasons, respectively. His physicality and toughness, and his free throw shooting, will be a welcome addition to the Aztecs.

Andre Curbelo, Illinois
Of course there’s some projection here. But Curbelo averaged nearly 17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists per 40 minutes last year, and with Ayo Dosunmu gone, the keys to Brad Underwood’s spread offense will sit in his hands. Few players in the country are as dynamic or exciting.

Taevion Kinsey, Marshall
Haven’t heard of Kinsey? You will. The wing has been producing numbers for a couple years now, including points, rebounds and assist last year while making % of his 3s. But forget the numbers: Kinsey will be among the nation’s most exciting players thanks to his explosive leaping and athleticism.

Marcus Sasser, Houston
Sasser produced points per game last year, but should be stepping into a situation where he’ll have more shots in That’s not a bad thing for a guy who scored 20 and made five 3-pointers in each of Houston’s final two games, an Elite Eight win over Oregon State and a Final Four loss against an elite defensive backcourt in Baylor.

Avery Anderson, Oklahoma State
Anderson certainly had his moments as a sophomore, including a stretch at the end of the year where he scored 16 or more points in five of the Cowboys’ final six games. That included 31 points in a win at West Virginia with Cade Cunningham sitting out. With Cunningham off to the NBA and another year’s improvement, Anderson could make a run at all-conference honors.

Alex Barcello, BYU
Barcello started his career at Arizona, where he struggled to get off the bench. But he’s been an absolute sniper since hitting the court for the Cougars. As a junior, he ranked third nationally by making % of his 3-pointers, knocking down 30 at an almost 54% clip in 16 conference games. And he followed that up by making % last year while dramatically upping his assist rate and getting to the free throw line way more often, a good thing for a career 85% free throw shooter.

Matthew Mayer, Baylor
Mayer has long been Baylor’s microwave off the bench. And while Adam Flagler or even Arizona transfer James Akinjo will compete to be the Bears’ best player, Mayer could be one of the nation’s toughest matchups as a super skilled 6-foot-9 player with more athletic pop than you’d think. Mayer averaged points per 40 minutes last year, and his minutes are about to go way up.

Kyle Lofton, St. Bonaventure
The Bonnies were a popular pick to make it past the first round in the NCAA Tournament, and while LSU cut that dream short, Lofton and the gang returning have St. Bonaventure looking dangerous yet again. Lofton played in 96% of his team’s minutes, leading the nation, and he wouldn’t look out of place in any backcourt. If his 3-point shot rebounds to where it has typically been (he made plus percent his first two years, then dipped to 24% last year, he’ll be among the nation’s best guards).

Kevin Obanor, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders are once again packed with players to , and there’s certainly a case for Terrence Shannon as the Red Raiders’ best player. But we went with Obanor, based not just on his All-Summit League season with points and rebounds per game, but also the way he ratcheted his game up in March, putting up 29 points, 11 rebounds and steals per game in Oral Roberts’ two tournament wins. He shot a terrific % from 3.

Julian Champagnie, St. John’s
Like his brother, Julian understands how to fill out a box score: points, rebounds, assists. steals, blocks. Add in that he shot almost 38% from 3 and nearly 89% from the free throw line, and he bears watching as a potential NBA prospect who should have plenty of the spotlight, and the ball, at St. John’s.

Jaden Ivey, Purdue
One of the highest-upside returnees in college basketball, Ivey could push himself into the top 20 picks, if not the NBA Draft’s lottery with continued development. The former No. 89 overall prospect in the Sports Composite was excellent over the summer for the Team USA U team.

Trevion Williams, Purdue
Williams’ résumé says he should be higher. So why is he here? Because I’m just not sure he’s going to be Purdue’s best player this year with the emergence of Ivey. Williams finished 10th in KenPom’s National Player of the Year formula last year, a testament to his rebounding, stellar passing for a big man and the offensive burden he carried—he took % of Purdue’s shots when he was on the floor—first in the nation.

Benedict Mathurin, Arizona
Mathurin is likely one of the top returning NBA prospects after averaging points and rebounds per game as a freshman last year. He could stand to add some polish to his game, but an athletic player who shot almost 42% from 3 certainly has his fair share of upside.

Kellan Grady, Kentucky
Grady transferring to Kentucky from Davidson is an excellent marriage of ability and need. The Wildcats needed to up their shooting and scoring, and Grady is a career points per game scorer who has career makes from behind the 3-point arc.

EJ Liddell, Ohio State
Liddell became a nightmarish matchup once he started knocking down outside shots last year; while he shot % on the year, he made almost 39% from mid-January on. And at 6-foot-7 and pounds, he’s too quick and skilled for most fives and too powerful for most fours to contend with. The next step will be putting it all together and becoming more of a factor on defense.

9. Marcus Carr, Texas
There’s a lot of love/hate out there with Carr, and perhaps rightfully so. When he’s at his best, he easily has All-America potential, and with a more talented team, here’s guessing his shot selection improves and he’s at his best more often. Carr averaged points per game for Minnesota last year, but don’t forget that he’s also always fared well as a facilitator, and he could wear that hat more often at Texas.

8. Remy Martin, Kansas
Like Carr, Martin likely won’t be averaging nearly the points per game this year, but could become more efficient. The Arizona State transfer’s ability to get into the lane to score or pitch the ball outside should blend seamlessly with a Kansas team that doesn’t have as much pop off the bounce, and the Jayhawks’ ball movement should help him make the most of his catch-and-shoot ability.

7. Collin Gillespie, Villanova
Gillespie decided to return for his super senior year after watching his senior year cut short by a torn MCL. The Wildcats reached the Sweet 16 and fell to eventual national champion Baylor without him, but Gillespie would have at least given Villanova a puncher’s chance in that contest. As it is, he’ll team with Justin Moore and another super senior in Jermaine Samuels to give the Wildcats another team capable of a deep March Madness run, with Gillespie’s ability to shoot, score and distribute a big part of that optimism.

6. Max Abmas, Oral Roberts
Abmas led the entire country in scoring last year, then went out and put on a show in the NCAA Tournament, upping his points per game average to points per game over the Golden Eagles’ Sweet 16 run. There’s just so much value in a college point guard who can get wherever he wants with his quickness, and Abmas is also a sniper-like shooter, making % of his 3-pointers and 89% of his free throws. It’s just a shame Obanor moved on so fans didn’t get to see the duo run it back.

Juzang averaged points per game as a freshman at Kentucky, but those who saw him play in high school knew to watch his scoring once he headed to UCLA. And while Juzang’s year-long numbers were solid — he put up points per game — he was darned near unstoppable in March, leading UCLA from the First Four to the Final Four and producing points per contest along the way. Juzang’s ability to get, and hit, a mid-range shot whenever he wants was a driving force for the Bruins, and he should only be better this season with the confidence he built last March and April. That included in the Elite Eight and Final Four, when Juzang scored 28 of UCLA’s 51 points in a big win over Michigan, then followed that up with 29 points in a near upset of Gonzaga.

New Indiana coach Mike Woodson is living right. Not only did he convince players like Xavier Johnson to transfer in and one of the nation’s hottest high school seniors to head to Bloomington in Tamar Bates, he received a huge boon when Jackson-Davis decided to return to school for his third season. Davis certainly fits in that elite group of Big Ten big men; he followed a strong freshman year that saw him put up points, rebounds and blocks per game with on an inconsistent team. Jackson-Davis’ energy level is a big plus, and he brings more defensively than some of the Big Ten’s better low post scorers. It would help him quite a bit if he could become a % free throw shooter; he drew fouls per 40 minutes this past season and shot freebies in 27 games, making % of them.

Dickinson far outplayed his ranking as the No. 10 center and No. 43 overall prospect in the Sports Composite, becoming a consensus second-team All-American as a freshman. Producing points, rebounds and blocks per game is nothing to sneeze at, but Dickinson didn’t start the first five games of the season and was fitting into a veteran team where he didn’t figure to be the No. 1 scoring option. That should change this year, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Dickinson approach double-double range, with his scoring average pushing up another few points per game as well. He also likely won’t be put into tough ball-screen situations as often in the Big Ten as he might in other leagues.

None of these players is perfect. And like Dickinson, how Cockburn defends ball screens is a concern, as is Cockburn’s non-threat as a passer. But Cockburn is so physically overwhelming, which allowed him to put up points, rebounds and blocks per game last year, and with Andre Curbelo getting more time, Cockburn could see his easy opportunities rise as well. There’s quite a bit of value in making % of your shots when you’re taking of them per game, and if Cockburn improves his free throw shooting to what it was as a freshman (%) as opposed to what it was last year (%), the cap could come off the 7-foot, pounder’s scoring. Like Dickinson, Cockburn is a returning second-team All-American playing in the exact right league to make the most of his skill set.

The Bulldogs were lethal inside the arc last year, shooting almost 64% on their 2-point attempts as a team. That’s the best mark since KenPom began tracking in , and it doesn’t hurt when Timme, the team’s 6-foot big man, takes of those shots and makes just shy of 68% of them. Timme put on a masterclass of interior efficiency last year, and while he was selected as a consensus second-team All-American, KenPom’s National Player of the Year formula spit him out as the nation’s best player last year. He had a rough final effort against Baylor, but from round two through the Final Four, Timme averaged 25 points per game. That included 30 points, 13 rebounds and four assists on just 12 shots from the field against Oklahoma, 22 points on 14 shots against Creighton, a with three steals against USC’s vaunted front line, then 25 points on just 15 shots in a nip-and-tuck Final Four win over UCLA. At points, rebounds and assists per game, Timme’s ability to run the floor and finish in a variety of ways is a huge key to Gonzaga’s national title hopes.

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Ranking the Top And 1 best players in college basketball entering the season

The college basketball season is finally upon us. We're a mere two weeks away from real games being played, the first live action in the sport since the season screeched to a halt in March amid the growing coronavirus epidemic.

Fortunately for you, the reader, we've spent the longer-than-expected offseason preparing for this moment by grinding through film, working our sources and getting a feel on the ground for what to expect. We've laid out our All-America teams. We've handed out our annual preseason awards. We even had Matt Norlander, that crazy cat, rank every single college basketball team. All of them!  

Now, though, it's time to get serious and talk in detail about the players to watch this season. As usual, our annual exercise of ranking of the best players in the sport is a herculean task, but with the input from all our college hoops experts, we've compiled a list we feel confident is totally flawless. As a reminder on this list: we do not discriminate on age, or classification. We do not put a weighted preference on players from big schools over smaller schools. We simply rely on the talent and production and let it guide us. This isn't about NBA Draft stock, either. It's just: who are the best players at playing college basketball. 

Our list breaks down by class like this:

  • Freshmen: 11
  • Sophomores: 20
  • Juniors: 25
  • Seniors: 45

So behold, the CBS Sports Top (And 1) college basketball player rankings for this season.

Top And 1 college basketball players 

1. Luka Garza, Iowa: The Hawkeyes' Garza is the only player selected to one of last season's CBS Sports All-America teams who returned to college for the season, which makes him the most logical person to top this list. The 6-foot center averaged points and rebounds as a junior while securing Big Ten Player of Year honors. His decision to play one more season at Iowa gives the Hawkeyes a legitimate chance to make the Final Four for the first time since -- Gary Parrish

2. Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State: The freshman point guard who can become the face of the sport this season,  Cunningham is the most coveted recruit in program history and has grown to and is pounds at last check in early November. Displayed as much habitual maturity in terms of on-court decision-making as any top-five prospect I've seen in the past half-decade. Can single handedly make Oklahoma State a top team this season and should go No. 1 in the draft.  -- Matt Norlander

3. Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois: After an All-Big Ten First Team breakout last season, Dosunmu opted to put a pause on his NBA career and is back as a junior to lead a top Illini team. He figures to be one of the most prolific scorers on a roster that has a real chance to compete for a national championship. -- Kyle Boone

4. Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton: Our preseason pick for Big East Player of the Year is an elite 3-point shooter. But he's also an excellent distributor with a knack for creating shots inside the arc. Zegarowski took huge strides as a sophomore along with the Creighton program. Now both are poised for a season in the spotlight as he will be the star of a Bluejays with lofty aspirations. -- David Cobb

5. Jared Butler, Baylor: Butler averaged a team-high points and steals last season while leading Baylor to a record that was worthy of a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The guard's decision to withdraw from the NBA Draft ensured the Bears would be the preseason favorite in the Big If they win the league, it'll be Baylor's first conference title since -- GP

6. Marcus Garrett, Kansas: Bill Self says Garrett, last season's Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, is the best defender he's ever coached at Kansas. So you better believe we're relishing in the fact that Garrett ( ppg, apg, rpg, spg) is cracking so high on this list because defense matters. We're also banking on him improving offensively in order to justify his spot here. The Jayhawks have a lot to prove with a new roster, so plenty is going to fall on Garrett. -- MN

7. Collin Gillespie, Villanova: The top returning scorer for a potential preseason top Villanova team, Gillespie is just the latest star upperclassmen set to shine as a senior for Jay Wright's Wildcats. He averaged a career-best points per game last season as a junior and should see his role expanded in with Saddiq Bey declaring early for the NBA Draft. -- KB

8. Remy Martin, Arizona State: The Sun Devils' Martin is a fierce competitor and our preseason pick to be the Pac Player of the Year. The 6-foot senior guard probably hit his offensive ceiling in terms of point production after finishing second in the league at points per game last season. But look for Martin to take the next step as a distributor and be the heart and soul of a potentially great team. -- DC

9. Corey Kispert, Gonzaga: The Zags' Kispert is the leading returning scorer from a Gonzaga team that finished last season and was on the verge of earning a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The forward averaged points while shooting % from beyond the arc and % from the free-throw line. His withdrawal from the NBA Draft allowed the Zags to be No. 1 in the preseason Top 25 And 1. -- GP

Evan Mobley, USC: The only freshman who pragmatically can compete for top-newcomer status with Cunningham. The Trojans have a center oozing with talent, someone who is probably so skilled, lengthy and vigorous that he can't even play himself out of the top five in , barring injury. Mobley will give USC a chance at making the NCAA Tournament; without him, it's hard to see how that group would be anything other than NIT-at-best. -- MN

Garrison Brooks, North Carolina: Roy Williams fielded his worst UNC team to date last season with Brooks acting as one of the team's steadying hands. Now he'll field a rebuilt team led by Brooks who we anticipate to have a huge senior season. The top returning scorer and rebounder for the Tar Heels headlines a team that could realistically go from worst to first in the ACC. -- KB

Sam Hauser, Virginia: Hauser will provide immediate relief for a Virginia program that was starved for 3-point shooting last season. The Marquette transfer shot % from 3-point range during his three seasons in the Big East and is also a great rebounder and solid passer. He's not going to post eye-catching statistics because of Virginia's slow pace, but Hauser will be one of the top players in the ACC. -- DC

BJ Boston, Kentucky: The highest-rated prospect in Kentucky's top-ranked recruiting class, the guard averaged points and rebounds last season while helping Sierra Canyon High in California finish with a record. Boston projects as John Calipari's next one-and-done lottery pick. -- GP

Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana: Diehards knew how good this Hoosiers big man was last season ( ppg, rpg, bpg). This season the nation will discover his promise. And we won't get ahead of ourselves, but should Jackson-Davis have a great season and still manage to need a bit more training to grow into a high draft pick, he'll % be a preseason All-American should a junior season be in his future. -- MN

Oscar Tshiebwe, West Virginia: After leading West Virginia in field goal percentage, points, rebounds and shots blocked last season, we expect his jumbo role will further increase as he heads into his second season. The dynamic Mountaineer big man is a force on both ends of the floor and could take the mantle as the Big 12's most impactful frontcourt presence. -- KB

Jalen Crutcher, Dayton: Just because Obi Toppin is gone doesn't mean Dayton is suddenly depleted. The Flyers should compete for another Atlantic 10 title largely because of Crutcher. The senior point guard averaged points and assists last season while leading the A in assist-to-turnover ratio during league play. -- DC

Kofi Cockburn, Illinois: Coburn will combine with his higher-rated teammate (Dosunmu) to create arguably the best inside-outside combo in the country. The 7-foot center averaged points, rebounds and blocks last season for an Illinois team that finished 30th at KenPom. His present in the frontcourt is among the reasons why some regard Illinois as the Big Ten's best threat to win what would be the league's first national title since Michigan State in -- GP

Keyontae Johnson, Florida: The Gators have a lot of talent and a big season of expectation again, but those who saw UF underperform last season know that Johnson ( ppg, rpg) brought the goods way more often than not. Mike White has a forward who's unafraid of attacking around the rim. He's as flexible a player as there might be in the SEC. Does so much all over both ends of the floor. -- MN 

Trendon Watford, LSU: Quietly was one of the most impactful freshmen in the country last season, the LSU sophomore should step into a starring role this season with Skylar Mays off to the NBA. The versatile dual-threat wing is a dynamic defender who can fill it up on offense and has first-round potential if his shot starts falling with regularity from distance. -- KB

Drew Timme, Gonzaga: With Filip Petrusev gone, Timme is in line to post monster numbers for Gonzaga as a sophomore. He played mostly off the bench last season and hit a stunning % of his shots while collecting rebounds and blocks per game in just minutes per game. But he's also a proficient passer who can handle the basketball. -- DC

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova: Robinson-Earl is the second Villanova player to appear on this list, making the Wildcats one of four teams to have two players in the top The sophomore averaged points and rebounds last season for a Villanova team that shared the Big East title. If Robinson-Earl takes the so-called next step, Jay Wright could become just the seventh coach in history to win three national titles at the Division I level in men's basketball. -- GP

Matthew Hurt, Duke: It's Duke so you know we're going to have multiple guys on this list. The tricky part was trying to figure out where to slot them. Our money is on Hurt ( ppg, rpg), who has redefined his body and tweaked his role, making a huge second-season jump for Mike Krzyzewski's team. Probably won't be good enough or big enough in the stats department to win ACC Player of the Year, but seems like he'll be Duke's key player on a particularly young team.  -- MN 

Caleb Mills, Houston: There was arguably no player more valuable to their team last season than Caleb Mills was to Houston. He led all AAC players in league play in usage rate and did it efficiently, too, averaging points per game and earning All-AAC Second Team honors. As he returns for his redshirt sophomore campaign, he's in line to eat up the lion's share of Houston's offense and should be considered one of the few must-watch guards in college hoops. -- KB

MaCio Teague, Baylor: Teague transitioned from the Big South to the Big 12 with impressive efficiency last season after sitting out in as a transfer from UNC Asheville. Now a senior, he and Jared Butler will combine to form what should be the best backcourt in the country this season. -- DC

Oscar da Silva, Stanford: The Cardinal senior forward averaged a team-high points and rebounds last season while shooting % from the field and earning First Team All-Pac honors. The 48th member of Stanford's 1,point club,  he should help the Cardinal make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since -- GP

McKinley Wright IV, Colorado: A terrific point guard who's grown into one of the best players Tad Boyle's ever coached. The Buffs get Wright back ( ppg, rpg, apg) and in doing so now have one of the more valuable players in college basketball. He made the top 20 of our list a season ago, but truth be told, that was a little high. Now, if anything, we might have him a few spots too low. -- MN

Terrence Clark, Kentucky: Kentucky lost 94% of its scoring from last year's roster, so someone has to account for the points for the Wildcats. We think in the hierarchy it's clear BJ Boston will be the go-to guy, but Clarke may be 1B and still has a clear path to stardom as a freshman. The former five-star recruit has the two-way talents to be an immediate impact presence from day one in John Calipari's system. -- KB

John Fulkerson, Tennessee: After playing a reserve role for a pair of NCAA Tournament teams as a redshirt freshman and sophomore, Fulkerson emerged as one of the best big men in the SEC last season. Now back for his fifth season on campus, the lanky left-hander will be the heart and soul of a team with great potential. -- DC

Yves Pons, Tennessee: The SEC Defensive Player of the Year in , Pons has gone from being a seldom-used freshman to a key returner for a team ranked 12th in the preseason Top 25 And 1. He averaged points, rebounds and blocks last season. -- GP

Nate Reuvers, Wisconsin: Greg Gard told me he has no best player at Wisconsin, but we can't abide by those rules. We must rank! So the Badgers' senior center ( ppg, rpg, bpg) is our pick for best Bucky baller. His minutes will swell this season, so we're forecasting a 15/6/2 campaign while fighting for a Big Ten title. -- MN

Fatts Russell, Rhode Island: Fast-approaching Perry Ellis-levels of longevity in college hoops, Russell's presence should be a steadying force for a Rams team that's replacing a few key pieces. Russell is coming off an All-Atlantic 10 First Team campaign in which he posted career highs in points, assists, rebounds and 3-point percentage. Another leap forward as a senior and we're talking about a potential All-American candidate. -- KB

James Bouknight, UConn: Bouknight lived up to his top prospect billing as a freshman last season while transitioning into a starting role and averaging points per game once inserted into the starting lineup. He'll be up against stiffer competition in the Big East this season but has all the makings of a star. -- DC

Landers Nolley, Memphis: The decision to transfer from Virginia Tech to Memphis was a big boost for Penny Hardaway's program. The guard averaged points and rebounds for the Hokies last season. -- GP 

Ziaire Williams, Stanford: They absolutely love this freshman out in Palo Alto, California. Williams ranked as the No. 6 player in the class of and will step into a situation at Stanford that should allow his lottery-pick potential to thrive. The Cardinal make the short list of unheralded NCAA Tournament teams heading into the season.   -- MN

Joey Hauser, Michigan State: After a season on the sidelines serving an NCAA-mandated season off competitive action to satisfy transfer rules, the Marquette-turned-Michigan State forward Hauser steps in as a key cog for Tom Izzo as he looks to replace Cassius Winston and Xavier Tillman. Hauser has the goods to be Sparty's most reliable outside shooter right away after hitting % from 3-point range at Marquette two seasons ago. -- KB

Javonte Smart, LSU: Smart upped his assist-to-turnover ratio while taking on the point guard job as a sophomore, and he shined offensively during conference play. The guard averaged points per game and hit % of his 3-pointers during league play. -- DC

Greg Brown, Texas: This is the type of one-and-done talent who could help Shaka Smart have his best season yet as Texas' coach. The jumping-jack was a consensus top prospect in the Class of -- GP

Isaiah Livers, Michigan: He'll get his ( ppg, rpg) on the offensive end, but it's Livers' well-founded defensive aptitude that ensured he'd crack our top Juwan Howard's got a pretty good team this season, but no player is the barometer for UM success like Livers, who deserves a full season without injury setbacks. -- MN

Chris Smith, UCLA: The arrival of Mick Cronin revived Smith last season as he doubled up his per-season average as a scorer and took over the team's frontcourt in Year Three, establishing himself in the process as a bona fide NBA prospect. Now, as a senior, he's the team's top returning scorer and the foundational piece for the Bruins' Pac title hopes. -- KB

Joe Wieskamp, Iowa: The Iowa native is poised to take another step forward after averaging 14 points and rebounds per game as a sophomore last season. He was second to Luka Garza in both of those categories and should be one of the top players in the Big Ten as the Hawkeyes jockey for a league title. -- DC

Scottie Barnes, Florida State: The highest-rated recruit to ever enroll at Florida State under Leonard Hamilton, Barnes is the type of talent that could help the Seminoles compete for back-to-back ACC championships. -- GP

Micah Potter, Wisconsin: Though there's a spot difference between Reuvers and Potter, the gap might be smaller. In Potter ( ppg, rpg) Bucky's got a big man who seems to make good things happen when he's around. A positive mojo follows with him, similar in some ways to Ethan Happ, which brings joy to UW backers everywhere. -- MN

Brady Manek, Oklahoma: The distinction of Oklahoma's most experienced player belongs to Manek, the in-state standout who is affectionately referred to as "Larry on the Prairie" because of his Larry Bird-like looks. He also gets the nod as OU's most important player on our list. The senior is a knockdown 3-point shooter with good size and skill who the Sooners may rely upon as their go-to option this season with Kristian Doolittle graduating. -- KB

Ron Harper Jr., Rutgers: Harper led Rutgers to one of its best seasons in program history while transitioning from a role player into being the team's leading scorer last season. Now the dynamic wing/forward will try and lead the Scarlet Knights to the long-awaited NCAA Tournament appearance that COIVD robbed the program of last season. -- DC

Neemias Queta, Utah State: Queta averaged points and rebounds last season while shooting % from the field. His 84 blocks in the season represent a Utah State single-season record. -- GP

Matt Coleman, Texas: Shaka Smart has an embarrassment of talent this season, but it's Coleman ( ppg, apg, rpg) who is the most important and probably the best all-around player he's got. Super defense, cunning instincts and needs to be the reliable guy to push Texas into that top or top conversation by the time Big 12 play starts. -- MN

Jalen Johnson, Duke: As is frequently the case at Duke -- and is the case again this season -- the Blue Devils are replacing a ton of outgoing NBA talents. But in Johnson, Coach K has once again stocked the cupboard. Johnson is a former five-star recruit who has a frame the size of a power forward but carries the skill and feel of a guard. His versatility is going to unlock Duke's offense. -- KB

Marcus Carr, Minnesota: Carr emerged as one of the best guards in the Big Ten last season while averaging points and assists after transferring in from Pittsburgh. He flirted with the NBA Draft but decided to return and will be the unquestioned star for the Gophers this season. -- DC

Kihei Clark, Virginia: Clark averaged points and a team-high assists while starting all 30 games last season. The junior point guard is an 86% free-throw shooter. -- GP

Kellan Grady, Davidson: Whereas Grady once had some will-he-leave-early buzz about him, instead the shooting guard ( ppg, rpg) is going to graduate as one of the five best players in program history. If Davidson's going to be an NCAA Tournament team they'll need Grady to upgrade to 20 points per night and pull the Wildcats into a top offense. -- MN

Carlik Jones, Louisville: This Radford transfer is generating intense buzz about Louisville, and we expect Jones to step in from day one as a big-time offensive weapon for Chris Mack and Co. With the Highlanders, he ranked top-three in assist rate for three consecutive years and graded out last season as a top-5 performer in KenPom's offensive rating metric. -- KB

Ochai Agbaji, Kansas: The junior could be in line for a breakout year after averaging 10 points, rebounds and 2 assists per game while playing a complimentary role for a team that relied on departed stars Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike last season.  -- DC

Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky: Bassey was averaging points and rebounds through 10 games last season when he suffered a season-ending leg injury. -- GP

Aaron Henry, Michigan State: Was 90th on our list and he didn't dominate ( ppg, rpg) to validate a big uptick. The reality is Henry is a top player if he puts it all together. The question is if he'll be able to do that this season. We're banking on good things from a high-ceiling Big Ten wing.  -- MN

AJ Green, Northern Iowa: The Panthers won 25 games last season on the strength of a star turn by Green. And this season might have an even rosier outlook. The guard is one of the most electric mid-major players in the country because of the way he can score it at every level. -- KB

Chris Duarte, Oregon: The junior college transfer shined as a two-way player in his first season at Oregon and could be one of the top players in the Pac this season as he takes on an even larger offensive role following the departure of Payton Pritchard. -- DC

Colbey Ross, Pepperdine: Ross has averaged at least points in consecutive seasons while earning First Team All-WCC honors. -- GP

Kyler Edwards, Texas Tech: Chis Beard's junior combo wing ( ppg, rpg, apg) is so impressive because of his poise, defensive consistency and dedication to improvement. His percentages were a bit wonky from freshman to sophomore seasons, but it's likely he becomes the focal point for TTU in -- MN

Scottie Lewis, Florida: As a five-star freshman last season, Lewis didn't live up to lottery expectations. But Florida figured out its groove without him in a starring role as Keyontae Johnson emerged, and now it should be all the better for it as he enters Year Two. Elite-level, lengthy defender who embraces tough assignments. A truly perfect sidekick paired next to a superstar. -- KB

Jacob Gilyard, Richmond: The undersized senior point guard is the returning Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year and will be the heart and soul of a team with NCAA Tournament expectations. -- DC

Matt Mitchell, San Diego State: Mitchell was the second-leading scorer at San Diego State last season, in part because he shot % from the free-throw line. -- GP

Austin Reaves, Oklahoma: He's got great chemistry with Manek, and Reaves' numbers ( ppg, rpg, apg) are likely to swell for an Oklahoma team that's going to be fighting for the top half of the Big He'll also be the Sooners' highest-usage player, provided he can start making at least 30% of his triples. -- MN

DJ Jeffries, Memphis: The crown jewels of Memphis' lauded recruiting class are NBA-bound, but DJ Jeffries still stands. He's the top returning scorer for the Tigers and figures to step into a larger role as a sophomore, where Penny Hardaway will need his two-way talents as a scorer and Swiss Army knife defender. -- KB

Joel Ayayi, Gonzaga: The redshirt junior is one of the best all-around guards in the country who defends, rebounds, distributes and is improving as a 3-point shooter. -- DC

David Johnson, Louisville: Johnson averaged assists in Louisville's final six games last season while establishing himself as an important backcourt piece for the Cardinals. -- GP 

Mitch Ballock, Creighton: The Bluejays will need Ballock's 3-point shooting to remain excellent. The senior averaged ppg, rpg, apg, but it was his % 3-point accuracy that helped the Jays clock in a offensive rating at KenPom last season, No. 3 in the sport behind Gonzaga and Dayton. -- MN

Davion Mitchell, Baylor: The third of Baylor's big returning three, Mitchell will reassume his role this season as a two-way hound who gets in your grill defensively and adds a complementary piece to the offense, which is likely to revolve around Jared Butler. He's the second-leading returning steals leader on his own team but the seventh-leading returning steals leader in the league, which is a testament to just how good Baylor was last season. He averaged points and steals per game as the Bears spent plenty of time last season atop the AP rankings. -- KB

Aamir Simms, Clemson: The forward with a nice outside shooting touch could play his way into NBA Draft consideration this season after leading the Tigers in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocks. -- DC

John Petty, Alabama: Petty averaged points and a team-high rebounds last season while shooting 44% from 3-point range for the Crimson Tide. -- GP

Denzel Mahoney, Creighton: The closest margins between any teammates on this year's list is with Mahoney (ppg, rpg) and Ballock just four spots above. Bluejays coach Greg McDermott tells me there's basically no wiggle room between the two for CU's second-best player honor. -- MN

Mark Vital, Baylor: The Bears' Vital is the defensive glue that holds their vaunted defense together. The two-time All-Big 12 defensive standout averaged a career-high steals per game last season, which ranked seventh among all Big 12 players. -- KB

Justin Moore, Villanova: The Big East all-freshman honoree is poised for a full-time starting role in the Wildcats' backcourt after shooting % from 3-point range last season. -- DC

Jhivvan Jackson, UTSA: Jackson averaged points last season, breaking the previous Conference USA record for points per game in a season that was held by Aubrey Coleman, who scored ppg for Houston in -- GP

Antoine Davis, Detroit: Fitting that we've got the two highest-scoring players in the game back-to-back here. Like Jackson, Davis ( ppg, apg, rpg) is capable of flirting with scoring 30 a night and is only ranked this low because we don't have enough evidence against power-conference teams to boost him higher. -- MN

Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga: You like versatile? How's this for versatile: Jalen Suggs is a five-star guard prospect who was also recruited as a quarterback out of Minneapolis. He picked hoops, and now he's the most highly-touted recruit Gonzaga's signed in its program's history. The Zags have several returning pieces but he'll get a chance to flash some special stuff because of how gifted he is as a combo guard. -- KB

Miles McBride, West Virginia: The unheralded prospect figures to be a starter now after making the Big 12 all-freshman team while averaging points and steals in just minutes per game last season. -- DC

Trevion Williams, Purdue: Williams averaged a team-high points and rebounds last season while shooting % from the field for a Purdue team that finished 24th at KenPom. -- GP

Jay Huff, Virginia: Minimal year-over-year gains for Mr. Huff ( ppg, rpg, bpg), who was ranked 84th on our list last year. That wound up being too high. We expect him to be Virginia's third-best player and put UVA over the top in the ACC. -- MN

Herb Jones, Alabama: In three seasons with the Crimson Tide, Jones has been no more than a complementary piece. But folks around Tuscaloosa are buzzing about a potential fourth-year breakout for the wing, and it's possible that if he's able to put all the pieces together, he steps in as the team's top talent and fills the void Kira Lewis Jr. left behind. -- KB

Quentin Grimes, Houston: The former five-star prospect took a nice step forward last season after transferring from Kansas and is ready to help Houston to another league title. -- DC

Terry Taylor, Austin Peay: Taylor is the reigning Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year after averaging points and rebounds last season. -- GP

Derrick Alston Jr., Boise State: Worried a bit we've got him 30 spots too low because this enticing two-way wing ( ppg, rpg, apg) is quite capable of winning Mountain West player of the year for the NCAA Tournament-contending Broncos. Toyed with staying in the NBA Draft. -- MN

Terrence Shannon, Texas Tech: Chris Beard has a way of developing NBA talents, and Shannon may be next in line here to benefit from a second-year star turn. The sophomore has excellent positional size and athleticism and returns to lead a talented Texas Tech team after averaging points and boards per game in -- KB

Aaron Wiggins, Maryland: Someone will have to replace the production of departed stars Anthony Cowan Jr. and Jalen Smith, and Wiggins -- a former top prospect -- is sure to improve upon the points per game he averaged as a sophomore last season. -- DC

Moussa Cisse, Memphis: Cisse averaged points, rebounds and blocks while leading Lausanne Collegiate School to a Tennessee state title last season, then reclassified and enrolled early seven miles away at Memphis. -- GP

Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall: No Myles Powell and no Romaro Gill means the big Pirate ( ppg, rpg) will step into a starring role for Kevin Willard's team that is hoping to maintain top-three status in the Big East. Say it with us: Mah-moo-kay-lahsh-vee-lee. -- MN

Franz Wagner, Michigan: Wagner was one of five players who last season averaged at least points per game for the Wolverines. But with Zavier Simpson and Jon Teske out the door, he'll assume an even larger share of the workload as he teams up with Isaiah Livers to lead Michigan into something of a reboot in KB

MJ Walker, Florida State: The guard is another former top prospect poised to take a step forward as he enters his senior season looking to up his scoring average after developing a reputation as a high-quality defender. -- DC

Wendell Moore, Duke: The five-star prospect in the Class of averaged points and rebounds while starting 11 games for the Blue Devils last season. -- GP

Timmy Allen, Utah: There are few players on this list who are truly underrated on a national level. Allen ( ppg, rpg, apg) is absolutely one of them due to the fact Utah was merely a season ago and Allen's teammate, Rylan Jones, who missed making our list by or-so spots, was one of the 20 best freshmen in America. -- MN

Jordan Goodwin, Saint Louis: The top-returning shot-taker in the A, Goodwin returns as a senior for Saint Louis to claim the throne of the most productive player in the league. He averaged an astounding points and boards last season at just , and is again in line to be the team's most reliable producer as Travis Ford and Co. gun for the conference crown. -- KB

Derek Culver, West Virginia: The Mountaineers have a deep cast of proven talent, so don't expect Culver to produce eye-popping offensive numbers, but the forward is a great rebounder who does a lot for the Mountaineers. -- DC

Chris Lykes, Miami: The Hurricanes senior is already listed among the best 25 scorers in school history after averaging points last season. -- GP

Caleb Love, North Carolina: The competition to crack the final 15 spots on our list was wild, but Love's upside as a freshman point guard is too tempting not to slide him onto the list. He'll be vital to giving Carolina a shot at top-four status in the ACC. -- MN

James Akinjo, Arizona: A Georgetown import, Akinjo steps into a key role right away in Arizona after the Wildcats lost Zeke Nnaji, the Pac Freshman of the Year, in addition to Nico Mannion and Josh Green. He should be able to pick up where he left off with the Hoyas as a high-volume scorer who can run the offense in Tucson while the team rebuilds around a youthful core. -- KB

Armando Bacot, North Carolina: The Tar Heels are rightfully excited about their freshmen class, but Bacot's freshman-to-sophomore progression could be a huge reason why this team returns to national prominence. -- DC

DJ Carton, Marquette: Carton averaged points in 20 games last season before leaving Ohio State's program and transferring to Marquette. -- GP

Will Richardson, Oregon: A former top national recruit, Richardson is primed to step into a starring role as a junior for the Ducks as he returns as the team's leading returning scorer. -- KB

Jalen Pickett, Siena: This is a confidence pick, as the final four spots are reserved for our write-in votes and I achingly opted to pick Pickett over South Carolina's AJ Lawson. Truth is, Pickett is a borderline-great point guard ( ppg, apg, rpg) who would start on almost every team in America. -- MN

R.J. Cole, UConn: The Huskies have  a star on its hands in James Bouknight, but don't you dare overlook the underrated transfer addition of Cole. A Howard transfer, he averaged points per game in two seasons for the Bison before moving on. He has an opportunity to step into a co-starring role next to Bouknight with senior Christian Vital exhausting his eligibility. -- KB

Jayden Gardner, East Carolina: The AAC's leading scorer from last season also averaged rebounds per game and could help carry the long-suffering Pirates to respectability during his junior season. -- DC

Sours: https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/ranking-the-topandbest-players-in-college-basketball-entering-theseason/

Basketball rankings players college

25 best players returning for the men's basketball season

The DI men's college basketball season is rapidly approaching and Andy Katz is here with his top 25 returning players on the latest edition of the March Madness podcast.

Katz was also joined by four players on his rankings — Texas' Marcus Carr, Mississippi State's Garrison Brooks, Syracuse's Buddy Boeheim and Illinois' Kofi Cockburn — on this edition of March Madness

Here are Andy Katz's top returning players for the college basketball season: 

Tyson Etienne, Wichita State

Tyson Ettiene enters his third year at Wichita State fresh off of winning Co-AAC Player of the Year. Etienne averaged points per game and led the Shockers to the regular-season conference crown in

Matt Bradley, San Diego State

Matt Bradley moved down I-5 to San Diego State to give the Aztecs a needed boost. The Cal transfer was third in the Pac in scoring, shooting % from three.

Armando Bacot, North Carolina

Third-team All-ACC big man Armando Bacot gives North Carolina a physical presence down low. Bacot led the Tar Heels in scoring, field goal percentage, rebounding and blocks last season.

NEW SUITS: The 12 most impactful coaching moves of this college basketball offseason

Julian Champagnie, St. John’s

Julian Champagnie of St. John's

Katz believes if St. John's will compete in the Big East this year, Julian Champagnie will play a big part. Champagnie led the conference with points per game in

Scottie Pippen Jr., Vanderbilt

Scottie Pippen Jr. knows how to fill the stat sheet. The first-team All-SEC guard averaged points per game for head coach Jerry Stackhouse.

Chris Lykes, Arkansas

Chris Lykes joins Arkansas this year, transferring in from Miami (FL). Lykes has sneakily averaged 15+ points per game the last three seasons. In , he improved in every major statistical category and shot % from three. Katz believes Lykes will shine in Fayetteville as one of the best guards in the country.

Kellan Grady, Kentucky

The Davidson transfer keeps the Wildcats nickname but changes colors in Grady averaged 17+ points per game in each of his four prior seasons and will look to bring his scoring ability to Kentucky as Big Blue Nation looks to return to the tournament.

COACH CAL: 8 men's college basketball coaches who could be the next to reach wins

Kevin Obanor, Texas Tech

In , Kevin Obanor was a key part of Oral Roberts’s Cinderella run, averaging points and rebounds in three NCAA tournament games as the No. 15 seed Golden Eagles advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. After transferring to Texas Tech, Katz sees Obanor scoring all over the floor in the Big

Trevion Williams, Purdue

The undervalued big man averaged points, rebounds and assists per game last season for Purdue. Katz envisions a big season on the way for Williams and the Boilermakers.

Sahvir Wheeler, Kentucky

The second Kentucky player on the list is also a new transfer in Sahvir Wheeler. The former Georgia Bulldog stays in the SEC after averaging assists as a freshman.

Garrison Brooks, Mississippi State

Garrison Brooks transfers to Mississippi State after a productive career at North Carolina. The big man joins the Bulldogs looking to add to his 1, career points.

Andrew Jones, Texas

Texas' Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones is back at Texas and brings with him big-time scoring potential. The cancer survivor is healthy entering and is a part of a talented Longhorn team. Katz predicts a breakout season for a player with one of the best stories in college basketball.

GREATNESS AWAITS: 5 men's basketball teams that could be poised for historically great seasons

Collin Gillespie, Villanova

Collin Gillespie was one of the best guards in the country, averaging 14 points per game with a assist to turnover ratio last season. Gillespie returns to Villanova after tearing his MCL late in the regular season, an injury that caused him to miss the NCAA tournament. Healthy again, Gillespie will try to lead Villanova to another Big East title.

Remy Martin, Kansas

Former Arizona State star Remy Martin could’ve gone to the NBA, but he chose to join Kansas instead. The three-time All Pac guard led the conference in scoring with points per game, reaching the 30 point mark four times. Katz believes Martin could be the missing piece for the Jayhawks this year.

Max Abmas, Oral Roberts

The NCAA’s leading scorer is back! Max Abmas took the college basketball world by storm last March, making big-time shots in Oral Roberts’ surprise NCAA tournament run. After averaging points per game and shooting 43% from three, Abmas finds himself amongst the sport’s best entering the season.

Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA

While Jaime Jaquez Jr. might have been overshadowed at UCLA, Katz sees the 6’7’’ wing as a scorer, a baller and a winner entering the season. After improving his stats in the regular season, Jaquez took the next step in UCLA’s Final Four run averaging 15 points and rebounds while shooting 45% from three. Jaquez’s continued growth as a player is part of the reason many have the Bruins as a preseason favorite to return to the Final Four. 

9. Buddy Boeheim, Syracuse

The son of the legendary coach stepped into the spotlight last year and showed what he can do on the floor. Buddy Boeheim scored 55 points in Syracuse’s first two NCAA tournament games making 13 threes on 57% shooting from deep. After shooting the lights out to get the Orange to the Sweet Sixteen, Katz believes Boeheim can replicate his success in

8. Jaden Ivey, Purdue

This summer Ivey shined as one of the best players on the gold medal U USA team, finishing second on the team in scoring despite playing just minutes per game. The summer’s performance followed Ivey’s point NCAA tournament game for Purdue. After an outstanding freshman year that saw Ivey named to the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team, Katz thinks Ivey can be one of the best players in the Big Ten for the Boilermakers.

WHO'S NEXT: 7 programs with strong cases to be college basketball's next 1st-time champion

7. E.J. Liddell, Ohio State

In a conference full of elite bigs, E.J. Liddell can fly under the radar. Liddell averaged points and rebounds per game last year. At midseason’s point, Liddell was on numerous awards watchlists. Liddell helped the Buckeyes to a two-seed in the NCAA tournament. Katz believes he can lead Ohio State to a Big Ten title in

6. Marcus Carr, Texas

The highest-ranked transfer on the list, Marcus Carr joins Texas after making big shots at Minnesota. Carr averaged points for the Gophers and was named first-team All-Big Ten. Carr can also do more than score the basketball; he's Minnesota's single-season assist record holder too. Katz sees Carr as the missing piece for Chris Beard at Texas. He could lead the Longhorns to the Final Four.

CAN'T MISS: 11 can't-miss men's college basketball non-conference matchups to circle this fall

5. Tracye Jackson-Davis, Indiana

The Wooden Award finalist is back in Bloomington! Indiana’s Tracye Jackson-Davis returns after averaging 19 points and nine rebounds, shooting 51% from the field. The All-American will try to get the Hoosiers to the NCAA tournament under new head coach Mike Woodson for the first time since Katz thinks Jackson-Davis could be Big Ten Player of the Year. 

4. Hunter Dickinson, Michigan

Hunter Dickinson returns for Big Blue after a fantastic freshman season. Dickson dominated his position in games and took home numerous accolades in his inaugural collegiate season. Dickinson scored in double-figures in 23 games while shooting nearly 60% from the floor. Only a sophomore, Katz calls Dickinson one of the best bigs in the country.

3. Kofi Cockburn, Illinois

Kofi Cockburn had a busy offseason looking at the NBA and entering the transfer portal. However, he returns to Illinois where he looks to have another exceptional season. Cockburn was a consensus second-team All-American, putting up 16 double-doubles during the season. Katz believes Cockburn’s immovable post presence can lead Illinois deeper in the NCAA tournament and possibly to a Big Ten title.

OFFSEASON: The 12 biggest winners from the summer in men's college basketball

2. Drew Timme, Gonzaga

Drew Timme became a household name during Gonzaga’s undefeated run. After losing in the national championship game, Timme will try to get Gonzaga back to the year’s biggest game, this time with a different result. He’ll have more responsibility this season without NBA lottery pick Corey Kispert, but he’ll be joined by prized recruit Chet Holmgren. Katz believes Timme is one of the country’s best players on one of the country’s best teams.

1. Johnny Juzang, UCLA

After leading UCLA to the Final Four, Johnny Juzang is the top returning player entering the college basketball season. In the NCAA tournament, Juzang averaged points on % shooting from the field. However, after suffering a heartbreaking buzzer-beater defeat, Juzang return to the Bruins better, stronger and more focused. Katz forecasts an outstanding season over the course of the year for one of the best players in the country.

Stan Becton has been with NCAA.com since and has covered numerous NCAA championship events, including the Men’s Frozen Four. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where he played football and earned a degree in Professional Writing. You can follow him on Twitter @stan_becton.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

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Video on ESPN's Top 15 Ranked Players in the Class of 2021!

10 college basketball National Player of the Year candidates, ranked

We are right in the heart of college basketball season, a little less than two months out from Selection Sunday. With that comes a midseason look at some of the best players in the game. On this week's episode of March Madness , Andy Katz does just that — ranking his midseason National Player of the Year candidates. 

This episode also features exclusive interviews with CBS's Clark Kellogg, Villanova's Jay Wright and Virginia's Tony Bennett. 

Here are Katz's National Player of the Year contenders entering the week of Jan.  

Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky — Junior, Center 

If you are a Western Kentucky fan or have just tuned in to a couple of minutes of a Hilltoppers' game this season then you are probably pretty aware of Charles Bassey. Bassey is the heart and soul of WKU's team. The big man averages points, boards and blocks per game and is an absolute force on the inside. 

9. Cameron Thomas, LSU — Freshman, Guard

The 6'4" freshman guard has made a name for himself. Thomas averages  points per game and shoots over 42 percent from the field. Thomas is a name to keep an eye on the rest of this season and is the main reason the Tigers are in the SEC. 

8. Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana — Sophomore, Forward 

Jackson-Davis is one of many talented big men in the Big Ten. The Indiana forward averages  points and rebounds per game so far this season and is the primary scorer for the Hoosiers. 

MUST-WATCH GAMES: Tennessee at Florida prediction and picks for more major men's college basketball games this week

7. Marcus Carr, Minnesota — Junior, Guard

Speaking of talented Big Ten players, Marcus Carr lands here at No. 7. The Minnesota guard averages points per game and shoots over 41 percent from the field. He is the unmatched offensive leader for the Golden Gophers as Minnesota is looking like a fierce competitor in the Big Ten. 

6. Jared Butler, Baylor — Junior, Guard

Baylor is loaded with guard talent but Butler stands out here as Baylor's best player and leader on and off the court. He averages  points per game after his monster point, eight assist performance against Kansas on Jan. Butler has the ability to lead the Bears to a Final Four and compete for Big 12 Player of the Year. 

5. Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois — Junior, Guard 

Dosunmu started the season as one of the top preseason candidates for Player of the Year. He has met expectations as the 6'5" junior is currently averaging points, rebounds and nearly five assists per game. He began the season No. 2 on Katz's preseason list, but because of Illinois' struggles in the Big Ten Katz has him slated as No. 5 on this list. 

College basketball rankings: Alabama, Houston and Iowa rise in this week's Power 36

4. Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State — Freshman, Guard

Cade Cunningham was also high up on Katz's preseason Player of the Year list. The guard out of Oklahoma State was the highest touted freshman entering this season. Cunningham has lived up to those expectations — he averages 18 points, rebounds and steals per game. 

3. Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga — Freshman, Guard

Jalen Suggs and Cade Cunningham will battle throughout the rest of the season to see who will emerge as the Freshman of the Year. Right now Katz has Suggs ahead of Cunningham because of his versatility as a player and his emergence as a leader on a stacked Gonzaga squad. Suggs has been a key contributor for Mark Few this season averaging points, boards, assists and  steals per game. 

2. Corey Kispert, Gonzaga — Senior, Forward

Kispert entered this season as Gonzaga's veteran leader and glue guy. With the season halfway behind us, Kispert has emerged as the Zags' best player. The 6'7" forward averages points per game and shoots over 59 percent from the field. Katz was blown away by Kispert's performance against Virginia at the end of December — a game where he shredded UVA's defense with 32 points and nine threes. 

TURN IT AROUND: Petty leading Alabama on a remarkable run this season

1. Luka Garza, Iowa — Senior, Center 

The preseason favorite to be National Player of the Year is doing it again this season. Luka Garza is putting up his best numbers of his college career — the 6'11" center averages  points, boards and blocks per game. He is the heart and soul of Iowa's offense and will be the cornerstone for the Hawkeyes to make a deep tournament run come March. 

Spencer Parlier has worked at CNN, Heavy Inc., and WFSU-FM. His writing and production have also appeared on CNN.com, Heavy.com and Florida Public Radio. Follow him on Twitter @ParlOfWisdom.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NCAA or its member institutions.

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You will also be interested:

Why this year? Well, because we lost the last three weeks of last season and had to wait an extra two weeks for the start of this one.

Don’t ask these types of questions. Just enjoy this impossible to argue against list.

Jason Preston, JR, G, Ohio

Preston ranked second in the nation in assists last season, and scored in double figures in 30 of Ohio’s 32 games.

Armando Bacot, SO, F, North Carolina

Bacot didn’t quite live up to his five-star billing as a freshman, but he served as the perfect inside accent to Garrison Brooks, a role that will likely carry over into his sophomore year.

Jordan Bohannon, SR, G, Iowa

If he’s fully healthy this season, then Bohannon should be one of the nation’s most lethal outside shooters and should also probably be higher on this list. Recovering from a second hip surgery makes that a big “if.” He played in just 10 games last season before he was forced to call it a year and turn his focus to

Nimari Burnett, FR, G, Texas Tech

Unlike other head coaches who thrive in large part due to intricate defensive systems, Chris Beard isn’t afraid to let talented true freshmen cook. Expect that trend to continue this season with Burnett.

Brady Manek, SR, F, Oklahoma

Once a nice accent to Trae Young, Manek is now the man in Norman.

Justin Bean, JR, F, Utah State

Bean made a massive leap as a sophomore and became the first Aggie to average a double-double since Mike Santos in

Joe Girard III, SO, G, Syracuse

Few players in the country will have more of a green light this season than the man who set a new New York high school scoring record while playing for the same school that produced Jimmer Fredette.

Casey Morsell, SO, G, Virginia

Morsell checks every box when it comes to the prototypical breakout Virginia star. Expect the 6’3 sophomore to “come out of nowhere” and be one of the best players on one of the nation’s best teams.

Nate Reuvers, SR, F, Wisconsin

I’m not quite as high on Reuvers as the rest of the world seems to be, but he certainly possesses all the necessary skills you expect to see from a Badger big man.

Michael Devoe, JR, G, Georgia Tech

Devoe was one of the most improved players in the country last season, going from an ACC no-name to one who ranked seventh in the league in scoring ( ppg) and fifth in field goal percentage ().

Cameron Krutwig, SR, C, Loyola Chicago

Remember this guy? He’ll be bullying Missouri Valley dudes all over the paint for one more year.

Jeremy Roach, FR, G, Duke

Five-star freshman guards at Duke have typically been pretty good in recent years. Roach is a natural point who may have to play off the ball if the primary floor general duties go to Jordan Goldwire. If he can effectively adjust to that slight change, he’ll deserve a spot on the postseason version of this list.

DJ Funderburk, SR, F, NC State

Funderburk, who averaged points and rebounds per game as a sophomore, should be at or near the center of every positive thing that happens for NC State this season.

Justin Moore, SO, G, Villanova

Moore led all Big East freshmen in scoring last season and should be even more of a bucket getter for Nova in year two.

John Petty, SR, G, Alabama

It feels like Petty has lived in this range on these types of countdowns for the last years. He’ll need to once again be his consistent self if Nate Oats’ squad is going to contend with the top tier of the SEC.

Neemias Queta, JR, C, Utah State

Queta was never fully healthy last season, and his production (as well as his team’s) dipped as a result. Expect him to be back to being one of the nation’s most feared shot blockers in

Mark Vital, SR, F, Baylor

He certainly gives off the appearance of a football player playing basketball, but it’s highly effective in Scott Drew’s system.

Jordan Goodwin, SR, G, Saint Louis

One of the most unique players in college basketball, Goodwin averaged a double-double last season ( ppg, rpg) despite standing just 6’3.

Joey Hauser, SO, F, Michigan State

The less heralded of the Hauser brothers will still be assuming a major role for what should be one of the nation’s best teams. Just like big bro.

Kihei Clark, JR, G, Virginia

Never flashy, great passer, pesky defender, big time shot maker, fantastic free-throw shooter; basically everything Virginia opponents hate about having to play Virginia.

Olivier Sarr, SR, C, Kentucky

The talented big man from France finally gets to walk out of the ACC’s basement and into the bright lights of Big Blue Nation.

James Akinjo, JR, G, Arizona

No one questioned Akinjo’s ability during his time at Georgetown but there were other questions. If Arizona is a better fit for the highly-skilled 6’1 guard then he could easily be a First Team All-Pac performer.

Jalen Pickett, JR, G, Siena

After an unbelievable freshman season, Pickett’s numbers dipped slightly as a sophomore, putting to bed any notion he may have had about making an early jump to the league. He’s still without question the biggest talent in the MAAC.

Derek Culver, JR, F, West Virginia

Culver’s game is never going to wow anyone, but his rebounding, toughness, and downright intimidating style are at the heart of the culture Bob Huggins has built in Morgantown.

Kellan Grady, SR, G, Davidson

Grady flirted with an early exit to the professional ranks before ultimately opting to play one more season for Davidson. His scoring average has actually dropped every year that he’s been in college, a trend that’s going to need to be reversed if the Wildcats are going to be a major player in the A

Antoine Davis, JR, G, Detroit

Despite having played only two collegiate seasons, Davis has scored 1, career points and his made three-pointers per game average is the fifth-best in NCAA history. The coach’s son will once again be letting it fly in

Makur Maker, FR, C, Howard

The first five-star prospect to ever sign with an HBCU, it’s going to be fascinating to watch what types of numbers Maker puts up against MEAC competition.

John Fulkerson, SR, F, Tennessee

His game is never going to win a beauty contest, but Fulkerson’s gritty play is at the center of nearly everything positive that happens for the Volunteers.

MJ Walker, SR, G, Florida State

On a Seminole team loaded with young talent, Walker figures to be Leonard Hamilton’s experienced rock. He’s always been one of the ACC’s toughest on-ball defenders, and has developed the ability to turn up his offensive game when the situation calls for it.

Jacob Gilyard, SR, G, Richmond

With Nick Sherod out for the year, it should be Gilyard’s world for the preseason favorites in the Atlantic

Chris Lykes, SR, G, Miami

The diminutive Lykes has been plagued by injuries and the demands of carrying too much of the scoring load throughout his college career. He’ll have more help than he’s accustomed to in his final college season, which could result in the most successful team campaign he’s been a part of.

Paul Scruggs, SR, G, Xavier

Naji Marshall’s graduation means Scruggs will be taking center stage in Cincinnati this winter.

Chris Duarte, SR, G, Oregon

Duarte averaged points per game in his first season with the Ducks, but was largely overshadowed by First Team All-American Payton Pritchard. With Pritchard gone, expect Duarte to team up with Will Richardson to be the new focal points of the Oregon attack.

Quentin Grimes, JR, G, Houston

Grimes, still perhaps best-known for his monster Champions Classic performance in his first game as a Kansas Jayhawk, had a somewhat quietly productive debut season with the Cougars. He’ll look to take another step forward for a Houston team that is once again poised to fight for the top spot in the AAC.

Moussa Cisse, FR, C, Memphis

It’s a safe bet that this year’s five-star freshman center is going to play in more than three games for the Tigers.

Caleb Love, FR, G, North Carolina

Due to Roy Williams’ style of play, there’s always a significant amount of pressure on talented young North Carolina guards to be stellar right out of the gate. How well Love handles that pressure will go a long way towards how far UNC bounces back from last season’s calamity.

Will Richardson, JR, G, Oregon

A former top 50 recruit, Richardson should step into a starring role in Eugene now that Payton Pritchard has moved on.

Scottie Lewis, SO, G, Florida

Lewis was viewed as something of a disappointment as a freshman last season when he averaged just points per game. His offensive game did come around over the season’s final three weeks, and by that point he had already established himself as one of the best defensive wings in the SEC. Expect those offensive numbers to be dramatically improved as Mike White elevates his responsibilities on that end of the floor in year two.

Rocket Watts, SO, G, Michigan State

Watts sort of quietly turned his game up several notches down the stretch last season and was one of the major reasons why the Spartans seemed to finally be living up to their preseason hype. Expect that individual momentum to spill over into his second year running the show for Tom Izzo.

Ron Harper Jr, JR, G, Rutgers

Harper Jr. lived up to his famous name as a sophomore, leading Rutgers in scoring during a season that should have culminated with the Scarlet Knights’

Fatts Russell, SR, G, Rhode Island

More than just one of the best names in the sport, if Russell’s shooting numbers improve as much this season as they did a year ago, he’ll be right in the thick of the race for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year.

Matt Mitchell, SR, F, San Diego State

“The other guy” during SDSU’s historically successful season, Mitchell is now the man for the Aztecs now that Malachi Flynn is gone.

Joe Wieskamp, JR, G, Iowa

The season-long absence of Jordan Bohanon in resulted in opposing defenses paying more attention to Wieskamp on the perimeter. As a result, the sharpshooter’s three-point percentage dipped from percent as a freshman to percent. With Bohannon back and arguably the sport’s top offensive player manning the middle, the pieces are in place for Wieskamp to have a monster junior year for the offense-happy Hawkeyes.

AJ Green, JR, G, Northern Iowa

The reigning Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year, Green averaged just a hair below 20 points per game as a sophomore. He’ll get the Seth Tuttle treatment as a junior, becoming more and more of a name nationally as he spearheads the efforts of what should be one of the three or four best mid-major teams in the country.

Josh Christopher, FR, G, Arizona State

If Christopher and Remy Martin can find a way to peacefully co-exist, Bobby Hurley might have himself the most entertaining backcourt in the entire country.

Trendon Watford, SO, F, LSU

Watford has every tool imaginable, it’s just a matter of when he figures out how to piece them all together.

Isaiah Miller, SR, G, UNC Greensboro

A two-time recipient of the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year award, Miller is relentless on both ends of the court. His length and quick hands make him a nightmare for opposing guards on offense, and his elite slashing and finishing ability make him equally potent when the Spartans are in possession of the ball.

Greg Brown, FR, F, Texas

If Texas is going to live up to its preseason hype, then the outrageously gifted Brown is going to have to live up to his.

Jay Huff, SR, C, Virginia

He’s an awkward looking big man with an awkward looking game, but he makes things happen on both ends of the floor in Tony Bennett’s not so awkward system.

DJ Carton, SO, G, Marquette

For a variety of reasons, it felt like we never got a chance to see the real DJ Carton at Ohio State. Now he walks into a situation at Marquette where he’ll be asked to fill much of the void left behind by Markus Howard, who led the entire country in scoring last season.

Charles Bassey, JR, C, Western Kentucky

No one thought Bassey would be in Bowling Green for more than a few months, but here we are. The former five-star recruit was averaging points and rebounds before a leg injury ended his sophomore season after just 10 games.

Isaiah Livers, SR, F, Michigan

The best indication of Livers’ talent is how Michigan looked without him last season. When Livers was healthy, the Wolverines were without doubt one of the 15 best teams in college basketball. When he was sidelined, Juwan Howard’s team was a dismal

Micah Potter, SR, C, Wisconsin

After sitting out the first semester of last season, Potter’s emergence helped transform Wisconsin from a struggling squad on Dec. 11 to one that won its final eight games of the regular season and earned a share of the Big Ten’s regular season title. Despite playing only minutes per game, Potter finished the season as the Badgers’ second-leading scorer ( ppg) and leading rebounder ( rpg). His percent clip from beyond the arc was also the best on the team, and made Wisconsin one of the toughest teams in the country to guard in the halfcourt.

Jalen Suggs, FR, G, Gonzaga

The highest-rated recruit in Gonzaga history, Suggs has every tool necessary to be a freshman superstar. But if he doesn’t put it all together immediately, Mark Few is going to be fine with bringing him along slowly. The Zags are loaded.

David Duke, JR, G, Providence

One of the most underrated players in the country, Duke is rock solid on both ends of the court and one of the biggest reasons why Providence has morphed into the toughest defensive team in the Big East.

Terrence Shannon Jr., SO, F, Texas Tech

It’s still weird to think of Texas Tech basketball as an NBA factory, but that’s one of the many effects Chris Beard has had on the program. Shannon, a dynamite 6’6 lefty who can score from any spot on the floor, would seem to be the next man up. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if we look back in five months and this ranking feels laughably low.

Franz Wagner, SO, F, Michigan

Expect Franz’s game to look an awful lot more like his older brother’s in his second season in Ann Arbor. All the tools are there.

Ja’Vonte Smart, JR, G, LSU

Smart made a strong ass jump from his freshman season to his sophomore one, and now figures to take on the alpha role for an LSU squad that should be right there with Tennessee and Kentucky at the top of the SEC.

Trevion Williams, JR, C, Purdue

Williams averaged points, rebounds and points per game in Big Ten play last season, and gave the world a glimpse of his full potential when he dropped 36 and 20 in a double overtime loss to Michigan. That effort was the only point, rebound effort by a Division-I player in , and it also marked the first time since that a Boilermaker has produced those numbers.

Mitchell Ballock, SR, G, Creighton

As a junior, Ballock led the Big East in assist-to-turnover ratio, and his 93 made three-pointers and three-point shooting percentage were both team-bests.

Sandro Mamukelashvili, SR, F, Seton Hall

It’ll be a group effort to replace the production of Myles Powell in South Orange, and Mamukelashvili will certainly play a large part. The 6’10 lefty is a double-double threat every time he steps onto the floor.

Matthew Hurt, SO, F, Duke

It’s something of a surprise to see Hurt back for year two in Durham, but the smooth shooting 6’9 forward has reportedly added muscle and figures to have a more well-rounded overall game in

Ochai Agbaji, JR, G, Kansas

I’m probably higher on Agbaji than most people, but after an odd start to his college career (rushed into a midseason burned redshirt as a freshman because Kansas had like six eligible players), I think the 6’5 junior is poised for a star turn. His athleticism has never been an issue, but the lack of polish on parts of his game was painfully apparent at times last season. This season, for the first time in his KU career, he won’t be a bit player.

Aamir Simms, SR, F, Clemson

If you haven’t yet gained a proper appreciation for Simms’ game, well, you’ve only got a few months left to change that. Simply put, everything Clemson does runs through him. A year ago he became the first Tiger in over two decades to post at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists in consecutive games, a feat accomplished in Clemson’s back-to-back wins over North Carolina and Duke.

Carlik Jones, SR, G, Louisville

The buzz all preseason has been that the Radford grad transfer has been Louisville’s best player. He’s put up some eye-popping numbers throughout his college career, but now he has to prove he can get the job done against ACC competition.

Chris Smith, SR, F, UCLA

The Pac’s Most Improved Player in , Smith’s emergence was the main reason UCLA went from total disaster in the first half of Mick Cronin’s debut season to nearly winning a conference championship.

Joel Ayayi, JR, G, Gonzaga

Ayayi’s outstanding sophomore season was capped by an MVP performance in the West Coast Conference tournament, which wound up being how Gonzaga’s stellar campaign came to an end. A loaded Bulldog roster, which now includes an eligible Florida transfer guard Andrew Nembhard, might be the only that can keep Ayayi’s star from shining even brighter as a junior.

Derrick Alston Jr., SR, G, Boise State

The Mountain West’s Preseason Player of the year, Alston led Boise State in scoring ( ppg) and assists ( apg) last season, and also ranked second in rebounding ( rpg). He’ll carry the Broncos as far as they can go in his final college season.

Landers Nolley, SO, G, Memphis

Nolley averaged points and rebounds for Virginia Tech last season before announcing that he was transferring out of the program. He should maintain his primary scorer status at his new home.

Caleb Mills, SO, G, Houston

Mills was a Second Team All-AAC honoree last season despite coming off the bench for the Cougars. Whatever works.

Ziaire Williams, FR, F, Stanford

A one-and-done lottery pick at Stanford? You’re about to see it.

Yves Pons, SR, F, Tennessee

The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year should always be the first guy off the bus for the Vols.

Colbey Ross, SR, G, Pepperdine

The most exciting player in the West Coast Conference might not play for Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s this season. Ross’ career assists are both a Pepperdine school record and the most of any player currently in college basketball. When he scores his 24th point this season, he’ll also set a new Pepperdine scoring record.

Geo Baker, SR, G, Rutgers

The undisputed emotional leader of the Rutgers basketball renaissance, Baker’s game may not be the most aesthetically pleasing in the country, but he also seems to find a way to get the job done when the situation is the most crucial.

Marcus Carr, JR, G, Minnesota

Carr was a monster for Richard Pitino last season, averaging points per game and eclipsing the point mark eight different times. He also set a new Minnesota record for assists in a season with Carr will shoulder even more of the offensive load this season now that big man Daniel Oturu is a Los Angeles Clipper.

McKinley Wright IV, SR, G, Colorado

Wright has been a rock solid presence in Boulder for what feels like a decade now. He’ll look to wrap up his college career by playing in his first NCAA tournament.

Oscar da Silva, SR, F, Stanford

A First Team All-Pac honoree a season ago, da Silva averaged a team-leading points and rebounds per game while shooting percent from the field. His main impact, however, comes on the defensive end of the floor, where he was arguably the biggest reason Stanford finished last season ranked No. 7 in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency.

Aaron Henry, JR, G, Michigan State

Henry didn’t quite have the breakout sophomore season that many were predicting this time a year ago, but he still showed enough flashes of a professional game to flirt with leaving early for the NBA. He ultimately chose to return to East Lansing where his potential star turn could determine just how good Michigan State can be in his third year with the program. Henry also doesn’t get enough credit for his work on the defensive end, where he might be the toughest player in the Big Ten to score on.

Terrence Clarke, FR, G, Kentucky

Even if BJ Boston winds up being Kentucky’s biggest star this season, there will likely be a case to be made that Clarke is Calipari’s most important player. Clarke is a legitimate two-way talent who will almost certainly draw the assignment of guarding the most talented forward or wing on whatever team UK is playing. He has all the skills and athleticism necessary to handle that load.

David Johnson, SO, G, Louisville

A no-brainer pick on any breakout sophomore list, Johnson’s NBA potential was on full display during Louisville’s road upset of Duke last January. The 6’5 Johnson is an electric finisher with tremendous court vision who is just a reliable jump shot away from being a top 20 pick in next spring’s NBA draft.

Oscar Tshiebwe, SO, F, West Virginia

Tshiebwe was thrown into the proverbial fire as a freshman, and responded by leading West Virginia in points, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage. He’s the main reason why the Mountaineers are back among the nation’s top 20 teams.

Terry Taylor, SR, F, Austin Peay

The haters are going to say this is too high, but they’ve been having the same wrong takes about OVC stars for years. Taylor posted averages of points and rebounds per game last season, and should be even more absurd in his (probable) final college season.

Scottie Barnes, FR, G, Florida State

What do you do when you lose two lottery picks from an ACC regular season championship squad? You sign the highest-rated recruit in program history.

Macio Teague, SR, G, Baylor

Jared Butler is garnering all of the preseason accolades, but there were multiple stretches last season where Teague was clearly Baylor’s best player. His outside shooting is crucial when it comes to creating enough space for Butler and Teague’s other teammates to do their things.

Jalen Johnson, FR, F, Duke

A 6’8 forward who can handle the ball and play like a guard, Johnson has already drawn the requisite comparisons to fellow Dukies Brandon Ingram and Jayson Tatum.

Jalen Crutcher, SR, G, Dayton

The Obi Toppin era will never get the ending it deserved, but now it’s on Crutcher’s shoulders to make sure that the momentum gained from the last couple of season doesn’t go to waste. He averaged points and assists last season and led the Atlantic 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio. Now he’ll have to do even more without the best player in the country on the floor with him.

Drew Timme, SO, F, Gonzaga

The Zags lost an All-American in Filip Petrusev, and still won’t miss a beat on the interior this season. That’s how good Timme is.

Corey Kispert, SR, F, Gonzaga

Assuming Gonzaga lives up to its preseason billing and is one of the best teams in college basketball this season, one of the questions that’s going to come up is which Zag gets the most All-American/national Player of the Year love. Kispert, the team’s leading returning scorer and second leading scorer from a season ago, seems like a safe bet.

Keyontae Johnson, JR, F, Florida

A First Team All-SEC performer a year ago, Johnson was the brightest star on a Florida team that spent most of underachieving. There may not be a more fearsome rim attacker in the country.

Trayce Jackson-Davis, SO, F, Indiana

Jackson-Davis was something of a hidden gem last season, averaging points and rebounds for a good, not great Indiana team. Those numbers are especially impressive when you take into account the Hoosiers’ total lack of a perimeter threat.

Collin Gillespie, SR, G, Villanova

Gillespie averaged a career-best points per game as a junior last season, and will be asked to take on even more of the offensive load for a Villanova team that once again has legitimate national title aspirations.

Kofi Cockburn, SO, C, Illinois

One of the most physically imposing specimens in the sport, it’s best to stay out of Cockburn’s general area when a celebration is looming.

Sam Hauser, SR, F, Virginia

Virginia’s defense was incredible last season, even by their own absurd standards. But the Cavaliers still lost seven games due mostly to the fact that on most nights their offense was void of a consistent outside threat. That shouldn’t be an issue now that Hauser is suiting up for Tony Bennett.

James Bouknight, SO, G, UConn

A monster second half of his freshman season made Bouknight an offseason college basketball media darling. Now his talents get a bigger stage as UConn heads into its first season “back” in the Big East.

Garrison Brooks, SR, F, North Carolina

The preseason ACC Player of the Year was one of the few bright spots during last year’s disastrous UNC campaign, averaging points and rebounds per game.

Evan Mobley, FR, F, USC

Mobley is probably the biggest threat to Cade Cunningham when it comes to the battle to be the top pick in the next NBA draft. Andy Enfield will give him plenty of leeway to showcase his full skillset, which should make the Trojans appointment television this winter.

9. Marcus Garrett, SR, G, Kansas

Garrett was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year a season ago, and enters with an earned reputation as the best defender in the country. He’s also worked hard to prove he’s not a one-trick pony, posting career highs in scoring, assists and rebounds in addition to a new career-high in steals last season. The Jayhawks will go as far as their captain can take them this season.

8. BJ Boston, FR, G, Kentucky

The highest-rated prospect in yet another loaded John Calipari recruiting class, Boston probably needs to be a star for the next four months if Kentucky is going to make it back to the Final Four for the first time since

7. Marcus Zegarowski, JR, G, Creighton

An honorable mention All-American a year ago, Zegarowski led Creighton with assists ( apg.) and was second in scoring ( ppg.) while shooting percent from deep. He was at his best when the lights were the brightest, averaging points per game while shooting percent from the field () and percent from three-point range () in Creighton’s eight games against top 25 opponents. The Bluejays went in those contests.

6. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, SO, F, Villanova

The rock solid Robinson-Earl was an easy choice for Big East Freshman of the Year in after he nearly averaged a double-double ( ppg, rpg) in his first season for Jay Wright. JRE was the Wildcats most consistent performer during a year where the Wildcats weren’t quite as consistent as Wright probably would have liked. He’ll be even better in year two.

5. Remy Martin, SR, G, Arizona State

A lightning guard with a seemingly endless motor, Martin might be the best player in the country when he’s playing within himself and seeing the entire floor. If he and five-star freshman Josh Christopher can effectively co-exist, Arizona State could be the best team in the Pac and a legitimate threat to crash the NCAA tournament’s second weekend.

4. Jared Butler, JR, G, Baylor

Butler was a breakout star as a sophomore, earning Third Team All-American honors and becoming the first underclassman since to lead Baylor in scoring. The preseason Big 12 Player of the Year now has his sights set on even bigger things as he prepares to lead the Bears into a season loaded with expectations the likes of which the program has never seen before.

3. Cade Cunningham, FR, G, Oklahoma State

The likely No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, Cunningham finds himself in the unique situation of being a one-and-done player suiting up for a team that is (currently) banned from any sort of postseason play. Even if the Cowboys don’t get to have any March moments, watching Cunningham hang some monster numbers on the Big 12 throughout the winter should be a treat.

2. Ayo Dosunmu, JR, G, Illinois

I’ve never tried to hide my love for Ayo Dosunmu, and that’s not going to change it what will almost assuredly be his final college season. The electric Dosunmu averaged points, rebounds and assists while shooting 48 percent from the field for the Illini last season. He also made a habit drilling ice cold daggers in the closing seconds of tight games.

1. Luka Garza, SR, F, Iowa

Seemingly everyone’s preseason national Player of the Year, Garza is coming off a junior season where he averaged points and rebounds per game and brought home Big Ten Player of the Year honors. While his defense remains a bit of a controversial topic, there’s no reason to believe Garza won’t be once again posting eye-popping numbers throughout

HONORABLE MENTION:

Jayden Gardner, JR, F, East Carolina

DeJon Jarreau, SR, G, Houston

Miles McBride, SO, G, West Virginia

Seth Towns, JR, F, Ohio State

Bryce Hamilton, JR, G, UNLV

KyKy Tandy, SO, G, Xavier

Moses Moody, FR, G, Arkansas

Wynston Tabbs, SO, G, Boston College

*Sharife Cooper, FR, G, Auburn

DeAndre Williams, JR, F, Memphis

Trent Frazier, SR, G, Illinois

Samuell Williamson, SO, F, Louisville

Aaron Wiggins, SR, G, Maryland

Jermaine Samuels, SR, F, Villanova

Jaden Springer, FR, G, Tennessee

Quade Green, SR, G, Washington

Jaden Shackelford, SO, G, Alabama

Devontae Shuler, SR, G, Ole Miss

Bryce Aiken, SR, G, Seton Hall

Timmy Allen, JR, F, Utah

Davion Mitchell, JR, G, Baylor

Tyon Grant-Foster, JR, G, Kansas

D’Mitrik Trice, SR, G, Wisconsin

Nate Reuvers, SR, F, Wisconsin

Tre Mitchell, SO, F, UMass

Wendell Moore, SO, G, Duke

Kendric Davis, JR, G, SMU

Jose Alvarado, SR, G, Georgia Tech

*currently ineligible

Sours: https://www.cardchronicle.com//11/25//thebest-college-basketball-players-for


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