SB Nation

Mike Rutherford | October 28, 2014

The best 100 players in college basketball

  1. A.nthony Lee+
    Ohio State

    School: Ohio State
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    Anthony Lee was one of the lone bright spots on arguably the worst Temple team of the past decade, averaging 13.6 points and 8.6 rebounds for the Owls in 2013-14. He then became one of the most highly sought after transfers in the country when he announced his intention to spend his final season of college ball somewhere outside of Philly. He'll be relied on heavily by an Ohio State team that really struggled in the paint last season, finishing 216th in the country in rebounding.

  2. K.T. Harrell+
    Auburn

    School: Auburn
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Bruce Pearl isn't walking into an unavoidably catastrophic first season with the Auburn Tigers, and K.T. Harrell is one of the biggest reasons why. The senior guard averaged 18.3 points per game last season in his first year with the Tigers after transferring from the Virginia Cavaliers. Perhaps the biggest task for Harrell this season will be learning how to shoulder the scoring load with Niagara Purple Eagles transfer Antoine Mason, who was the nation's second-leading scorer a year ago.

  3. J.erShon Cobb+
    Northwestern

    School: Northwestern
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    If the Northwestern Wildcats are finally able to shed their ignominious title of being the lone power conference team to never make the NCAA Tournament this season, then JerShon Cobb will almost certainly deserve a significant portion of the credit. Cobb, who is considered a legitimate NBA prospect, will likely see his scoring output increase this season thanks to the addition of true freshman point guard Bryant McIntosh. Assuming McIntosh is up to the task of running the show, Cobb will be able to move back to his natural position off the ball and focus more on putting up points.

  4. D.J. Balentine+
    Evansville

    School: Evansville
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    The Missouri Valley's leading scorer a season ago, D.J. Balentine (22.8 ppg) figures to be a safe bet to defend his title in 2014-15. He'll need to mesh with transfers Willie Wiley, Mislav Brzoja and Taylor Stafford in order to keep the Evansville Purple Aces from falling into the trap of becoming a one-man show on offense again.

  5. A.nthony Drmic+
    Boise State

    School: Boise State
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    The fact that both Anthony Drmic and teammate Derrick Marks were on this list a season ago -- and that Drmic was ranked higher than he is here -- should tell you all you need to know about the Boise State Broncos' disappointing 2013-14 campaign. The preseason first-team All-Mountain West selection has led Boise State in scoring in each of the last three seasons, and enters his senior year just 521 points away from breaking Tanoka Beard's school record for career points.

  6. L.aDontae Henton+
    Providence

    School: Providence
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    The third-leading rebounder in the Big East last season, LaDontae Henton's return has more than a handful of experts believing Providence can make it back to the Big Dance even without do-it-all guard Bryce Cotton. Henton was the team's second-leading scorer a season ago at 14.0 points per game, but with Kris Dunn and Tyler Harris also returning he shouldn't have to increase his scoring output significantly in order for the Friars to have success.

  7. R.ashad Vaughn+
    UNLV

    School: UNLV
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Guard

    The third straight Runnin' Rebels rookie to be named preseason Mountain West Freshman of the Year, Rashad Vaughn is an elite scorer with an NBA-ready body who will be asked to spearhead UNLV's offensive attack from day one. As a senior at Findlay Prep last year, the 6'6 Vaughn averaged 19.9 points and 4.9 assists per game.

  8. M.ichael Frazier+
    Florida

    School: Florida
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    Perhaps the best pure shooter in the country, Michael Frazier hit 44.7 percent of his 3-point attempts last season and is the lone returning starter from the Gators' Final Four team. As he was a season ago, Frazier will be asked to improve his game closer to the point where he's viewed as a dual threat. He made 40 shots from inside the arc in 2013-14, up from just 10 during his freshman year. The expansion of his offensive game will force teams to stop draping him on the perimeter, something UConn did successfully in last year's national semifinal.

  9. T.J. McConnell+
    Arizona

    School: Arizona
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Often referred to as the unheralded reason for Arizona's success last season, McConnell provided the Wildcats with the stable presence at point guard they had been sorely lacking the year before. The Duquesne transfer has earned all-conference accolades in each of his three seasons of college basketball, and now has the NCAA Tournament experience that he could never gain with the Dukes.

  10. S.eth Tuttle+
    Northern Iowa

    School: Northern Iowa
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    Seth Tuttle is one of the most versatile players in the country, not just in the Missouri Valley or the mid-major ranks. The Panther star ranked in the top six of the MVC last season in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots, and will anchor a UNI team set up to make plenty of noise in 2014-15. While shipping the Missouri Valley MVP award to Wichita seems like a formality to the rest of the college hoops world, there are plenty in the Midwest who believe Tuttle might have a great deal to say about that.

  11. C.ameron Ridley+
    Texas

    School: Texas
    Year: Junior
    Position: Center

    The hero of Texas' Round of 64 win over Arizona State, Cameron Ridley and his burly 290-pound frame are back for another season in Austin. The biggest challenge for the big man in his third season as a Longhorn might be figuring out the best way to play in the post with five-star freshman Myles Turner.

  12. S.iyani Chambers+
    Harvard

    School: Harvard
    Year: Junior
    Position: Center

    Siyani Chambers emerged as the outside threat that Tommy Amaker's squad had to have last season, connecting on 38 percent of his 132 attempts from beyond the arc. The former Ivy League Rookie of the Year teams up with Wesley Saunders to form one of the most formidable backcourts in the country. The duo hasn't experienced a season at Harvard without an Ivy League title and a victory in the NCAA Tournament.

  13. S.hannon Scott+
    Ohio State

    School: Ohio State
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    After three years of waiting for Aaron Craft to graduate (insert your worst "Aaron Craft played at Ohio State forever" joke here ... and then never make one again), it's finally Shannon Scott's time to run the show in Columbus. The former McDonald's All-American signed with OSU fully expecting to start at point guard from day one, but wound up stuck in an awkward supporting role in each of his first three seasons as a Buckeye. Now it's finally time to see if all that talk about Scott being OSU's best player in practice was legitimate.

  14. M.arkus Kennedy+
    SMU

    School: SMU
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    The trendy pick for AAC Player of the Year, Markus Kennedy will give Larry Brown the versatility in the post that he could have used to get the Mustangs off the bubble and into the Big Dance last season. As a sophomore at Villanova in 2012-13, Kennedy averaged 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. He and point guard Nic Moore should be able to form the most lethal inside/outside attack in the American.

  15. D.orian Finney-Smith+
    Florida

    School: Florida
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    The SEC's Sixth Man of the Year award recipient, Dorian Finney-Smith spent his first season as a Gator leading Billy Donovan's team in rebounding despite being viewed by many as an undersized power forward. He'll step into a starting role this season, which should allow his numbers to improve and his versatility to receive more national attention.

  16. T.revor Cooney+
    Syracuse

    School: Syracuse
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    When Trevor Cooney came back down to earth in February and March of last season, so did the Syracuse basketball team. You can choose to view that as a coincidence if you'd like, but I'm sure Orange fans would just as soon see Cooney's numbers start high and stay high throughout his junior campaign. That will likely require a couple of Jim Boeheim's newcomers -- preferably Chris McCullough or/and Kaleb Joseph -- emerging as legitimate scoring threats themselves, as Cooney is most comfortable spotting up and being fed beyond the arc.

  17. A.ngel Rodriguez+
    Miami

    School: Miami
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    The K-State transfer is exactly what Jim Larranaga needs to get back in the ACC mix after the team's rebuilding effort last season. Angel Rodriguez was an All-Big 12 honoree and a member of the league's All-Defensive team as a sophomore in 2012-13, and should provide the leadership at the point guard position that the Canes were missing without Shane Larkin last season.

  18. R.asheed Sulaimon+
    Duke

    School: Duke
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    Rasheed Sulaimon was No. 28 in these rankings a year ago, and suffice it to say he did not make quite the sophomore leap that your faithful narrator was expecting. Still, he shot better than 40 percent from three and was the fourth-leading scorer on a Blue Devil team that was a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That's not a bad effort by any stretch of the imagination.

    Sulaimon's biggest role as a junior will likely be to provide leadership on a Duke team that will need its experienced vets to mesh with its top-rated freshman class. Averaging double-figures from the two spot would also help.

  19. S.indarius Thornwell+
    South Carolina

    School: South Carolina
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    Sindarius Thornwell spent time at three different positions for the Gamecocks as a freshman last season, and wound up scoring just under 20 percent of the team's points. The All-SEC Freshman honoree led all conference rookies in both scoring and assists. He spent the summer working hard to improve his outside shot, a skill which would be huge for Frank Martin's team now that deep threat Brenton Williams has moved on.

  20. M.att Carlino+
    Marquette

    School: Marquette
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    The third and final stop on Matt Carlino's college hoops tour of America is Marquette, where first-year head coach Steve Wojciechowski now has an experienced offensive threat to spearhead the Golden Eagle backcourt until his young guards are ready to assume the spotlight. Carlino has been criticized often for his shot selection (especially at key moments), but he's never averaged fewer than 11.5 points or 4.3 assists per game in a season.

  21. R.yan Harrow+
    Georgia State

    School: Georgia State
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    After a tumultuous first (and only) season at Kentucky, Ryan Harrow found immediate redemption at Georgia State last season. He averaged 17.8 points and 4.2 assists per game for the Panthers, who went 17-1 in the Sun Belt and were a point away from becoming everyone's Cinderella pick in the NCAA Tournament. He'll join R.J. Hunter and Louisville transfer Kevin Ware to form a backcourt that should be able to hang with any team in the country, and which could carry GSU to a 30-win season.

  22. J.arvis Summers+
    Ole Miss

    School: Ole Miss
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    While the rest of the world was focusing on what Marshall Henderson was saying, eating and tweeting, Jarvis Summers was busy averaging 17.3 points, leading Ole Miss in assists (3.8 per game), and earning second-team All-SEC accolades. There's no question that the Rebels are Summers' team this season, a fact that has likely already left Andy Kennedy sleeping better than he has in a couple of years.

  23. A.ndre Hollins+
    Minnesota

    School: Minnesota
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Andre Hollins will be the guy most in charge of taking the Gophers from NIT champs to NCAA Tournament participants in Year 2 of the Richard Pitino era. Hollins' numbers are solid enough, but most of what he does well is subtle. He's terrific at getting to the line (where he's a career 84 percent shooter), he defends hard, he gets the ball to the right spot, and he doesn't turn it over. Along with backcourt mate DeAndre Mathieu, Hollins will be in charge of pushing pace and wearing down opponents in typical Pitino style.

  24. J.onathan Holmes+
    Texas

    School: Texas
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    Despite playing just 24.3 minutes per game for the Longhorns in 2013-14, Jonathan Holmes led UT in scoring (12.8), was second in rebounding (7.2) and field goal percentage (51 percent), and was third in blocks (1.3). His status as the only mid-sized forward on Texas' roster forced him to play out of position and compete against much bigger players in the post at times last season, a problem the addition of five-star big man Myles Turner should help alleviate. Holmes isn't flashy and he's not especially large, but he has still produced across the board for his entire college career. That doesn't figure to change in his senior season.

  25. A.J. Hammons+
    Purdue

    School: Purdue
    Year: Junior
    Position: Center

    Long advertised as the savior of Purdue basketball in the post-recruiting class of '07 era, A.J. Hammons is about to begin what amounts to a make-or-break season for his legacy as a Boilermaker. There have been instances over the past two years when Hammons has looked like a player capable of competing with the best centers in the country, but more times than not he's shown all the same symptoms of the infamous highly touted college big man who "needs time to develop."

    The defense has always been there, but Hammons needs to showcase the type of polish on the offensive end that would force the ball to go through him on every possession. If that transition doesn't occur, then it bodes poorly for both Purdue's 2014-15 season and Hammons' next-level prospects.

  26. B.obby Portis+
    Arkansas

    School: Arkansas
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Forward

    Bobby Portis introduced himself to the college hoops world (and plenty of NBA scouts) last February. In a game against Alabame, he hit 14 of his 17 shots on his way to an Arkansas freshman record 35 points to go along with nine rebounds and six blocks. He wasn't quite as brilliant for the entirety of his debut season as a Razorback, but he still showcased a level of skill and athleticism that has plenty of NBA Draft mockers (mock drafters?) penciling him in as a lottery pick for next June.

    Outside of his size and natural ability, the thing that has next-level executives so high on Portis is his work ethic. He impressed everyone at the Nike Skills Big Man Camp and the LeBron James Skills Academy over the summer by being among the first and last people in the gym every day.

  27. K.asey Hill+
    Florida

    School: Florida
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    The former blue-chip recruit takes over for the graduated Scottie Wilbekin, and will attempt to show why he was rated as the second-best point guard in the country coming out of high school. Kasey Hill fit the part of a big-time college floor general last season when he was able to get out in transition, but struggled a lot more when he was forced to run the show in the halfcourt.

    The potential for stardom was on full display in Florid's Sweet 16 win over UCLA, when Hill came off the bench to hand out 10 assists in the decisive victory. The only other players to hit double-digit assists in a Sweet 16 game? Jason Kidd, Keith Gatlin and Magic Johnson.

  28. J.ordan Sibert+
    Dayton

    School: Dayton
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    All the Ohio State transfer did in his first season as a Flyer was lead UD to the Elite 8 and turn them into America's team. He'll be called upon to do even more in Year 2 now that Dayton has lost three starters and its top reserve from that team.

    As a junior, Jordan Sibert led the Flyers and finished second in the Atlantic 10 in three-pointers made (83), and was third in the conference in three-point percentage (.426). He was the team's leading scorer at 12.2 points per game, and established himself right out of the gate as the squad's go-to guy with the game of the line. He began 2013-14 by drilling a game-winner at the buzzer in Dayton's season-opener against IPFW, and then ended it by hitting a dagger in the final minute of UD's Round of 32 win over Syracuse.

  29. A.lex Poythress+
    Kentucky

    School: Kentucky
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    Ranking Kentucky players on this list feels like a frivolous task. Staring at the roster without having seen the team play a game, it's next to impossible to predict who is going to play where and how long they're going to stay on the court. More certain is the fact that just about every Wildcat player who is fortunate enough to see "big" minutes is going to produce numbers that aren't necessarily reflective of their abilities.

    The guessing game starts with Alex Poythress, a player not many of us thought we'd see make it to his junior year. Poythress has as much NBA potential as just about any player on John Calipari's team, but a perceived lack of focus or effort have often left him in the Kentucky doghouse. If he can play the way he did during UK's exhibition trip to the Bahamas -- when he averaged 11.8 points and 5.7 rebounds in just 18.8 minutes per game -- then he will finally be the consistent monster we've seen glimpses of.

  30. C.hris Jones+
    Louisville

    School: Louisville
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    The buzz around Louisville this month has been that the diminutive senior point guard has been Rick Pitino's best player through the first few weeks of practice. Chris Jones showed glimpses of that potential at times last season, but admitted that his lifelong status as a score-first guard made adjusting to life in a backcourt that already had Russ Smith more than a bit difficult. Now Smith is suiting up for the Pelicans, and Jones should be able to serve as the perfect accent to Terry Rozier, a more natural two guard than Russdiculous was.

  31. A.ntoine Mason+
    Auburn

    School: Auburn
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    If you're taking on a rebuilding project, you might as well take on one that includes the nation's leading returning scorer. That's the situation Bruce Pearl made for himself when he landed Niagara transfer Antoine Mason, the son of former NBA player Anthony Mason.

    As a fourth-year junior for the Purple Eagles, Mason averaged 25.6 points per game last season. Only consensus National Player of the Year Doug McDermott scored more. Sure, he'll see a heightened level of competition in the SEC, and sure there are going to be more guys to share the ball with at Auburn than there were at Niagara (scroll up and see No. 99 on this list for more), but if you can score 846 points in a single season anywhere in Division-I then you're a player.

  32. J.ohn Brown+
    High Point

    School: High Point
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    The Shaq of the Big South (still accepting nickname nominations), John Brown averaged 19.5 points and 7.7 rebounds last season. But the Panthers, for a second straight year, won the conference regular season crown and then fell in their opening game of the conference tournament. Brown has already announced that this will be his final season in college ball, so it's now or never when it comes to making the Big Dance and snagging a national spotlight.

  33. L.e'Bryan Nash+
    Oklahoma State

    School: Oklahoma State
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Writing about Le'Bryan Nash and his potential to be an All-Big 12 performer has become an October tradition on par with trick-or-treating and raking leaves. It's not that Nash has been bad -- he averaged 13.9 points and shot 52 percent from the floor last season -- it's just that he hasn't really seemed to noticeably improve his game in any area since his standout freshman year of 2011-12. While Nash is certain to be good as a senior, it's going to take cutting down on turnovers, exercising better shot selection, and having a vastly improved attitude for him to finally become great.

  34. D.avonte Lacy+
    Washington State

    School: Washington State
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    A breakout junior season saw Davonte Lacy average better than 19 points per game in 2013-14. That number may dip under first-year head coach Ernie Kent, who would prefer to see the team utilize a more balanced scoring attack, but there will still be no doubt as to who the Cougs' most important player is. Lacy led Washington State in scoring in 16 of the 23 games he played last season, and in the eight games he missed because of injury Wazzu's scoring average dipped from 61.4 points to 49.1.

  35. D.akari Johnson+
    Kentucky

    School: Kentucky
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Center

    Dakari Johnson started 18 of the final 20 games of his freshman season, including each step of Kentucky's run to the national championship game. There were times when he dominated games for long stretches, but he drew consistent criticism for a perceived lack of conditioning. It was the main issue he chose to address after making the decision to return to UK, and he's listed in the Wildcat media guide as being 10 pounds lighter than he was at the end of last season. He appeared to be both thinner and bouncier when he averaged 7.2 points and 7.3 rebounds over just 20 minutes per game during Kentucky's Bahamas trip.

  36. R.ayvonte Rice+
    Illinois

    School: Illinois
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    In his first season as a member of the Illini, the Drake transfer scored in double-figures 31 times on his way to earning team MVP and honorable mention All-Big 10 honors. Rayvonte Rice did a significant portion of his damage on the perimeter last season. However, the addition of highly touted freshman big man Leron Black ought to help spread defenses out and allow Rice to attack the basket more as a senior, something his skill-set is more suited for.

  37. B.ryce Dejean-Jones+
    Iowa State

    School: Iowa State
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Bryce Dejean-Jones led UNLV in scoring last season, and he will attempt to replace the departed DeAndre Kane in the role of the senior transfer star at Iowa State. In his preseason press conference earlier this month, Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg described Dejean-Jones in a manner that reminded more than a few folks in Ames of Kane.

    "Bryce has been awesome," Hoiberg said. "As a basketball player, he does things that you can't teach. He's extremely athletic. He plays above the rim in transition. The thing we're trying to talk to him about is spacing and taking the right shots on the floor. He's a very good midrange shooter. We talked about not taking a lot of long, contested 2-point shots, but he finds a way to make them. You have to let him shoot some of them, and then he can shoot the three."

  38. A.aron White+
    Iowa

    School: Iowa
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    As a junior in 2013-14, Aaron White was the only player in Division-I who shot better than 58 percent from the field and 80 percent from the free-throw line. He'll enter his senior year as the face of a team that is still being asked about the improbable collapse that occurred at the end of last season. In order to remedy that reputation, White will have to do more in the mid-range game to help replace the production lost by the departure of Roy Devyn Marble. It's something he spent a great deal of time working on this summer while attending the Kevin Durant and LeBron James Skills Academies.

  39. L.arry Nance Jr.+
    Wyoming

    School: Wyoming
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    Despite suffering a season-ending ACL tear on Feb. 18, Larry Nance Jr. was named first-team All-Mountain West and was included on the conference's All-Defensive team after averaging 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 2.1 blocks. He led the Cowboys in all four of those categories. The members of the league's media had enough faith in his ability to fully recover from the injury to name him preseason Mountain West Player of the Year, making him the first Wyoming player to earn the honor since 2007.

  40. W.inston Shepard+
    San Diego State

    School: San Diego State
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    There's a cycle going on at San Diego State. Unheralded player becomes star. Unheralded player who became star is referred to as irreplaceable. Unheralded player who became star and who was referred to as irreplaceable is replaced by a formerly unheralded player who becomes a star.

    First it was Kawhi Leonard, then it was Xavier Thames, now it's ... probably Winston Shepard or Dwayne Polee. This is me going on record with the belief that it will be Shepard, who has the size, all the skills, and now the experience necessary to make it happen. Getting to the rim has never been an issue for Shepard, but finishing or capitalizing at the free-throw line have been entirely different stories. If he can remedy those issues as a junior, then we're probably talking about the Mountain West Player of the Year.

  41. S.am Thompson+
    Ohio State

    School: Ohio State
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    His unbelievable athleticism has already allowed him to make a misleadingly high number of highlight reels, but the time for Sam Thompson to step up as an all-around star for Thad Matta's team has finally arrived. He doesn't need to replace the scoring left behind by LaQuinton Ross and Lenzelle Smith all by himself, but he does have to drastically improve his rebounding numbers and, along with Shannon Scott, serve as a leader.

  42. D.arrun Hilliard+
    Villanova

    School: Villanova
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Darrun Hilliard flew a little bit under the radar last season as the Wildcats cruised to a Big East regular season title, but that's unlikely to be the case in 2014-15. Hilliard is the most efficient returnee in the Big East, and the departure of James Bell will likely result in even more playing time and scoring opportunities for the Pennsylvania native. He's also a player who has been able to increase his production in each major offensive category in all three of his seasons at Villanova. You should expect that trend to hold true for his fourth.

  43. K.eifer Sykes+
    Green Bay

    School: Green Bay
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    The reigning and preseason Horizon League Player of the Year, Keifer Sykes might be the most underrated guard in the country. He averaged 20.3 points and 4.9 assists per game last season, and he's the primary reason Green Bay is considered one of the best mid-major teams in the nation heading into 2014-15. Sykes stands just 5'11, but he's deadly in the lane, which is an area of the court he's nearly impossible to keep out of. He attempted over 76 percent of his shots from inside the arc, and according to hoop-math.com he converted on 64 percent of his opportunities around the rim.

  44. K.evon Looney+
    UCLA

    School: UCLA
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Forward

    Tony Parker is the lone member of the 2013-14 UCLA frontcourt returning to Westwood this season, meaning Kevon Looney will be relied on heavily to produce from November on. He's set up to do just that, with a skill-set and an affinity for the art of the outlet pass that have reminded more than a few scouts of former Bruin Kevin Love.

  45. J.abari Bird+
    California

    School: California
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    Jabari Bird has added 10 pounds of muscle and has hordes of folks predicting a breakout season followed by a jump to the league. He'll need to improve the poor shot selection that plagued his freshman season in order for that to happen. If Bird can come close to doubling his 2013-14 scoring output of 8.3 points per game, that might be the biggest key to success for Cuonzo Martin in Year 1 at Cal.

  46. N.igel Williams-Goss+
    Washington

    School: Washington
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    One of the few Pac-12 players versatile enough to impose his game on just about any opponent, Nigel Williams-Goss was a freshman star for Lorenzo Romar last season, averaging 13.4 points, 4.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds. He'll be tasked with filling up the stat sheet to an even larger degree this season, as he's being billed as both the leader and the focal point of the Husky team. It's a role he says he embraces, and one he'll have to in order to join the impressive list of guards that Romar has passed along to the NBA.

  47. R.odney Purvis+
    Connecticut

    School: Connecticut
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    "My Ferrari is now out of the garage. Rodney Purvis. Now I can drive my red Ferrari and I can't wait. He's a wonderful young man. I don't know how long we're going to have him because, you know, our guys, they go to the NBA real, real quick. They develop quickly. He is a great, great young man. He's going to come out and play the right way, a little bit of point guard, a little of two guard. He's excited, I'm excited for him. You're going to see him, you're going to love him."

    Those were Kevin Ollie's words when he was asked earlier this month about Rodney Purvis, the sophomore guard who sat out last season after transferring in from NC State. Ryan Boatright might be the heir apparent to Shabazz Napier, but Purvis is going to have to do an awful lot of what Napier did last season in order for the Huskies to have any shot at repeating.

  48. J.ustise Winslow+
    Duke

    School: Duke
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Forward

    Justise Winslow seems to fit the mold of the "one-and-done" era at Duke. He has the type of natural size and ability that you'd expect from a five-star recruit, but he also has the polish of a sophomore or junior who's going to be ready to contribute the moment the ball is tossed in November. He averaged just under 28 points per game during his senior season at St. John's High School in Houston, and he'll be asked to help fill the void left behind by both Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood right away.

  49. B.rice Johnson+
    North Carolina

    School: North Carolina
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    One of Roy Williams' consistent contributors from last season has to make a massive leap forward if the Tar Heels want to contend for the crown in 2015. All signs point to Brice Johnson, who averaged 10.3 points and 6.1 rebounds despite playing fewer than 20 minutes per game. He's packed on 40 pounds since arriving in Chapel Hill a little more than two years ago, which should allow him to be a force on the block this season. Marcus Paige can't do it all on offense again this season, and Johnson seems to be the player best-suited to pick up that slack.

  50. D.ez Wells+
    Maryland

    School: Maryland
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Dez Wells earned third-team All-ACC honors last season, after leading the Terps in scoring for a second consecutive year and also emerging as the squad's best distributor. His reputation for being one of the best guards in the country at getting into the lane and finishing is a deserved one, but he hasn't developed the type of improvement in his outside shot that Mark Turgeon and company would like. Wells' game is probably better-suited for the Big 10, which bodes well for Maryland in its first year in the league ... even if not all that much else does.

  51. B.randon Ashley+
    Arizona

    School: Arizona
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    Had Brandon Ashley not broken his foot on the first day of February last season, there's a very real chance that we would have spent the summer talking about reigning national champion Arizona. Instead, Ashley had to watch the final 16 games of his sophomore season -- one in which he had been averaging 11.5 points and 5.8 rebounds -- from the sidelines.

    Widely projected to be a first-round pick, Ashley has stated repeatedly in recent weeks that his foot is 100 percent ready for the season. However, head coach Sean Miller has been a bit more cautious. According to Miller, he wouldn't be surprised if Ashley didn't hit his stride until after Christmas. Given the plethora of talent Miller has at his disposal, he can afford to be patient with the junior star.

  52. A.lan Williams+
    UC Santa Barbara

    School: UC Santa Barbara
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    Advanced statistics love Alan Williams the way 20-something women love pictures of themselves in DJ booths.

    "Just about every basketball skill you can think of, he's really good at," stat guru Ken Pomeroy said last March. "All these numbers he puts up are the numbers you would expect to come from somebody who's 6 feet 10 inches or 6 feet 11 inches. Being a huge shot-blocker and a great rebounder and a guy who can draw a bunch of fouls in the paint -- it's definitely unique for someone as short as he is."

    Williams hasn't yet been able to get the Gauchos into the NCAA Tournament (they made the field in each of the two seasons prior to his arrival at UCSB), and as a result he hasn't received nearly the amount of national attention he deserves. Putting up some solid numbers against Kansas in the season-opener on Nov. 14 would certainly go a long way toward changing that.

  53. D.'Vauntes Smith-Rivera+
    Georgetown

    School: Georgetown
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera was one of the Big East's leading scorers at 17.6 ppg last season, but that was mostly out of necessity. With a talented group of newcomers entering the fold, John Thompson III will likely ask DSR to return to the facilitator role that he typically asks his stars to play. Also notable is that Smith-Rivera's return marks the first time since 2010 that Georgetown has brought back its leading scorer.

  54. K.evin Pangos+
    Gonzaga

    School: Gonzaga
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    It feels like it's been about 15 years since Kevin Pangos introduced himself to the college hoops world by burying nine threes and dropping 33 points on Washington State in the 2011 College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. Since then, he's established a reputation for being one of the nation's most consistently productive guards. He's averaged double figures in points and better than 3.3 assists per game in all three seasons at Gonzaga, and he's never shot worse than 40 percent from beyond the arc. The one thing Pangos hasn't been able to do yet is carry the Zags into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. His final shot comes with his most talented supporting cast.

  55. J.ayVaughn Pinkston+
    Villanova

    School: Villanova
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    It's been a long road to get to this point for JayVaughn Pinkston, who was suspended for his entire freshman season after being arrested and charged with assault following a fight off campus in November 2010. Since then, Pinkston has been a rock for Jay Wright, averaging better than 13.0 ppg and shooting better than 46 percent from the floor in each of the past two seasons. Villanova is a program with a reputation for building around guards, but this senior forward might be the most important piece to a team looking to repeat as Big East champions.

  56. M.arcus Foster+
    Kansas State

    School: Kansas State
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    Marcus Foster was a star from day one in Manhattan last season, leading the Wildcats in scoring as a freshman by dropping 15.5 points per game. He spent the majority of the summer working on his ball-handling with the hope of establishing himself as a true combo guard, but he'll likely need to showcase a heightened desire to take care of the ball (he turned it over a team-high 73 times last season) before Bruce Weber trusts him enough to run the point for extended stretches.

  57. R.yan Boatright+
    Connecticut

    School: Connecticut
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    If only because Shabazz Napier picked up right where Kemba Walker left off, most in college hoops are expecting Ryan Boatright to take over Napier's role without missing a beat. That might not be fair, but expectations rise when a program wins two national championships in four years. Boatright's already shown what he's capable of doing on the court -- he averaged 13.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game in last year's NCAA Tournament -- but he'll have to mesh with backcourt mate Rodney Purvis the same way he and Napier gelled in order for his reign as team captain to have a chance at being as successful as his predecessors'.

  58. T.reveon Graham+
    VCU

    School: VCU
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    While Shaka Smart is accomplishing things in the recruiting world that Rams fans could have never imagined a decade ago, his unquestioned star is still a player who came to Richmond as an unheralded two-star prospect. The story goes that despite Treveon Graham having just two other Division-I scholarship offers (Cleveland State and Northeastern) at the time, Smart told the unheard of small forward that he believed he could break the VCU all-time scoring record one day. Fast-forward four years later and Graham is 604 points away from making that recruiting pitch come to fruition.

  59. D.'Angelo Harrison+
    St. John's

    School: St John's
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    The main knock on D'Angelo Harrison, who hasn't averaged below 16.8 ppg in his three seasons at St. John's, has always been his inconsistency as a shooter. The statistics back this up as a legitimate criticism, but the lack of offensive weapons around him also deserve their share of credit for the ever-fluctuating numbers. Steve Lavin's hope is that the predicted breakout season for highly-touted sophomore point guard Rysheed Jordan comes to be, and Harrison is both relieved of some of his offensive burden and blessed with a bit more room to operate.

  60. J.oseph Young+
    Oregon

    School: Oregon
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    An abundance of talent was supposed to make Joseph Young's ppg average dip from the lofty 18.9 mark of a season ago. That no longer appears to be the case after the dismissals of Dominic Artis, Brandon Austin and Damyean Dotson, the transfers of Ben Carter and A.J. Lapray, and the academic ineligibility of five-star freshman JaQuan Lyle. Now, head coach Dana Altman has just nine scholarship players, and an offense which will likely amount to "Joe Young and the Ducks" for another year.

  61. A.ndrew Harrison+
    Kentucky

    School: Kentucky
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    A season after much of the blame for Kentucky's NIT season was laid at the feet of point guard Ryan Harrow, Andrew Harrison was expected to arrive in Lexington and pick up right where John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague left off. Harrison followed those players' paths of NCAA Tournament success, but he didn't follow their trend of spending just one season as a Wildcat. That's because Harrison, who was a projected lottery pick across the board this time a year ago, shot just 36 percent from the field and averaged 2.7 turnovers per game on his way to leading UK to an uninspiring 12-6 mark in SEC play.

    Kentucky's tournament run helped most people forget their regular season criticisms of both Andrew and his twin brother Aaron, but not NBA scouts and executives. Thus, both Harrisons are back at Kentucky and looking to win one more game this season. For that to happen, Andrew has to improve both his shooting and his shot selection, as well as turn himself into more of a true point guard as opposed to a guy who uses his size to bully his way into the lane, then makes things up from there.

  62. I.saiah Taylor+
    Texas

    School: Texas
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    Isaiah Taylor's freshman stats don't jump off the page, but his unexpectedly productive season was the biggest reason Texas was one of the Big 12's most pleasant surprises in 2013-14. Taylor's quickness and composure made him one of the league's most difficult floor generals to guard, which is saying something considering the lack of respect opponents were allowed to show to his outside shot. In that area, he's a slight improvement away from being ready to make a jump to the league.

  63. J.erian Grant+
    Notre Dame

    School: Notre Dame
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Jerian Grant played just 12 games last season before being forced to leave Notre Dame because of an "academic matter," and the rest of the country seemed to immediately forget that he had been averaging nearly 20 points per game and 6.2 assists. He spent the succeeding months doing some soul-searching before ultimately deciding to return to the Fighting Irish and finish out his college career. He'll step right back into his old role of being the focal point to a Mike Brey team that is hungry after missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.

  64. Y.ogi Ferrell+
    Indiana

    School: Indiana
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    Yogi Ferrell's transition from freshman to sophomore came with the unusual request of morphing from game manager to score-first point guard. He took the added responsibility in stride, averaging a team-best 17.3 ppg and earning second-team All-Big 10 honors. He improved his 3-point shooting percentage by nearly 10 points (30.3 percent to 40.0 percent) and more than doubled his shot attempts per game (6.3 to 12.8). With arguably an even worse supporting cast this season than last, Ferrell will be tasked with much of the same responsibilities he had as a sophomore, and will be forced to achieve them with defenses paying even more attention to him.

  65. W.esley Saunders+
    Harvard

    School: Harvard
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Wesley Saunders is more than capable of starting in the backcourt for any team in America. He has an NBA frame and a game so smooth and under control that appears as though he treats the sport like a geometry equation.

    Saunders also knows how to win. Harvard hadn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1946 before Saunders arrived, and they haven't been left out of the field of 68 since. In addition to leading each of the last two Crimson teams in scoring, Saunders also led them to the first two NCAA Tournament wins in program history. Somehow, expectations are even higher in 2014-15, a season which will see Harvard begin in the Top 25, and perhaps end with more than one victory in the big dance.

  66. K.elly Oubre+
    Kansas

    School: Kansas
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Forward

    Not only does Kelly Oubre have the one-and-done talent that the folks in Lawrence are now used to, he also has the leadership intangibles that guys like Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid were so often criticized for not having last season. Oubre has all the potential in the world, but the smooth-shooting lefty's lack of strength and sometimes shaky ball-handling might keep him from having quite the same impact that Wiggins and Embiid did in their lone seasons as Jayhawks.

  67. M.yles Turner+
    Texas

    School: Texas
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Center

    The No. 2 player in the class of 2014 according to ESPN, Myles Turner averaged 18.0 points nearly 7.0 blocks per game last season as a senior at Trinity High School in Bedford, Texas. Despite standing at 6'11 (or 7'0 depending on who you talk to), he has great touch and a reliable outside shot, a pair of skills that Cameron Ridley's (No. 90 on this list) presence will allow Turner to showcase from forward. The only thing that could hold Turner back from making a serious run at All-American and Freshman of the Year honors is figuring out the best way to co-exist with Ridley and fellow forward Jonathan Holmes.

  68. S.am Dekker+
    Wisconsin

    School: Wisconsin
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    Offseasons seem to love Sam Dekker. A year ago, it was the graduations of Ryan Evans and Mike Bruesewitz that had everyone in America predicting a breakout season followed by a trip to the NBA Draft lottery for Dekker. A year later, it's an oft-discussed two-inch growth spurt that has the same people talking about the same thing.

    Dekker has next-level skills, there's no question there, but I'd like to actually see him to do some of things everyone says he's capable of before showering him with the same expectations that he fell well short of last season. He's a tremendous cutter and he uses screens extremely well, but Dekker will have to show more aptitude as a 1-on-1 player if he wants to get Wisconsin back into the Final Four and himself into the All-American discussion.

  69. T.yler Haws+
    BYU

    School: BYU
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    He looks like a mix of Barry Pepper and Mickey Parke from the fake boy band 2Gether, but he's scored 1,177 more career points at BYU than both of those guys combined. Perhaps the odds-on favorite to lead the nation in scoring this season, Tyler Haws backed up a 21.7 ppg sophomore year by dropping 23.2 per game in 2013-14. With Matt Carlino transferring to Marquette, the stage is set for Haws to put up numbers that will result in approximately 9,000 Jimmer Fredette comparisons per day.

  70. P.erry Ellis+
    Kansas

    School: Kansas
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    One of two players who were unanimous preseason All-Big 12 selections, it's hard to compare Perry Ellis' accomplishments and his lack of name recognition without shaking your head. Kansas' leading returning scorer (13.5) and rebounder (6.7), Ellis is has already been projected to be the Jayhawks' leading scorer by head coach Bill Self.

    "I think his mind-set is more aggressive," Self said of Elli at Big 12 media day. "He knows he's a good player. He's always probably thought he was. Now he knows he is. He knows he should be our leading scorer. I think he's ready to have a big year."

    Ellis doesn't have exceptional size or athleticism for a power forward, but effort and near flawless fundamentals allowed him to be arguably KU's most consistent player a season ago. Self has already said that Ellis will be asked to do far more damage outside of the paint than he has in his two seasons prior. If he can develop a consistent mid-range jumper, then it's hard to envision Ellis staying in Lawrence for a fourth year.

  71. B.uddy Hield+
    Oklahoma

    School: Oklahoma
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    Perhaps basketball's most accomplished Buddy since Hoosiers, Buddy Hield's breakout sophomore year was the biggest reason the Sooners surprised everyone on their way to earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament last season. Hield averaged 16.5 ppg last season and was the leading scorer on the Bhamian national team at the FIBA Americas tournament this summer. Perhaps it was that experience combined with his success at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy that had the junior feeling especially confident when he talked to CBS' Jeff Borzello in July:

    "We're gonna win the Big 12. I'm saying it right now, we're gonna win the Big 12."

    He doubled down on that statement at Big 12 media day, saying: "I believe in my team. If you ask anybody, they would never doubt their team. I said it because I know what my team is capable of doing it."

    If it happens, we can all say Buddy told us first.

  72. C.liff Alexander+
    Kansas

    School: Kansas
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Center

    Like so many five-star big men, profiles of Alexander are littered with words and phrases like "raw," "explosive," "athletic," and "high ceiling." While all of that bodes well for Alexander's chances of being a multi-millionaire this time next year, it doesn't always translate to immediate success at the college level.

    Alexander is often compared to former Kansas All-American Thomas Robinson because of his brute strength and aggressiveness. The difference is Robinson has two inches on the 6'8 Alexander, and he wasn't asked to be a star at KU until his junior season. Alexander doesn't have that luxury, as he'll be asked to step in and immediately help fill the crater-sized void left behind by Joel Embiid.

    The biggest issue for Alexander at the college level may be learning how to use his strength and aggressiveness without getting into foul trouble. He'll also have to develop more touch and better feet, as the days of bullying 6'5 high school centers in the paint are now long gone.

  73. O.livier Hanlan+
    Boston College

    School: Boston College
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    One of the most feared scorers in the ACC, Hanlan thrived last season when he was allowed to shift over the two spot. He has good size, great ability as a passer, a reliable outside shot, and the ability to both get around defenders and create space for himself. The only problem is he's the only player on Boston College's roster who possesses anything resembling that skill-set. Hanlan won't be able to do it all for first year head coach Jim Christian, but it will be entertaining to watch him try.

  74. J.ordan Mickey+
    LSU

    School: LSU
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Forward

    In terms of freshman production, last season was supposed to be the Jarell Martin show in Baton Rouge. Instead, it was Jordan Mickey who emerged as the Tigers' most reliable frosh threat, averaging 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, and leading the SEC in blocks per game with 3.1. He finished the year with 106 blocked shots, becoming the first LSU player not named Shaquille O'Neal to hit triple digits in a single season. Without Johnny O'Bryant around to help him out in the post, Mickey will be leaned on even more heavily in year two.

  75. B.randen Dawson+
    Michigan State

    School: Michigan State
    Year: Senior
    Position: Forward

    Michigan State rarely "rebuilds" under Tom Izzo, but that hasn't stopped more than a few national pundits from predicting that the Spartans will take a major step back in 2014-15. The biggest key in avoiding that fate is Dawson, who will look to ride the Adreian Payne four-year success plan all the way to an award-filled senior season and a trip to he NBA.

    For most of the postseason last March, Dawson was Michigan State's best player. He averaged 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in MSU's first six tournament (Big 10 and NCAA) games, but then was able to attempt just three shots in the Spartans' stunning Elite 8 loss to Connecticut. Evenings like those must be few and far between for his team to be right back in the Big 10 championship mix yet again.

  76. M.alcolm Brogdon+
    Virginia

    School: Virginia
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    Malcolm Brogdon was the most complete performer on Virginia's dual ACC championship team of a season ago, and he'll be asked to do even more as a junior. He's a solid shooter from any spot on the floor, he has the strength to make plays in the lane, and he might be the best on-ball defender in the ACC. Brogdon was brilliant in the conference championship game a season ago, scoring a team-high 23 points and almost single-handedly limiting Duke star Rodney Hood to 4-of-12 shooting from the field. With the Joe Harris era in the books, the Cavaliers are now Brogdon's team.

  77. R.J. Hunter +
    Georgia State

    School: Georgia State
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    The sweet-shooting 6'5 junior from Indianapolis was never going to be your ordinary mid-major player. He had scholarship offers from a handful of Big Five programs, but chose to attend Georgia State in large part because his father, Ron, is the head coach.

    R.J. Hunter was among the most lethal outside threats in college basketball last season, shooting 44.4 percent from three while averaging just under eight attempts from beyond the arc per game. His "coach's son" genes are most apparent in his terrific ability to move away from the ball, a skill which figures to serve him extremely well in a Panther backcourt that will also include Ryan Harrow and Kevin Ware.

    But Hunter is far from just a catch-and-shoot guy. Every move he makes is calculated, and though he'll never be the quickest or most athletic guy on the court, he's lethal with either hand and knows the exact maneuver to make in order to free himself or one of his teammates up for an open look. He's like a bigger, slightly slower and slightly less lethal Steph Curry. That was a compliment, trust me.

  78. T.erry Rozier +
    Louisville

    School: Louisville
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    There were more than a few folks who asserted a belief that it was Terry Rozier -- and not Russ Smith or Montrezl Harrell -- who was the best NBA prospect on Rick Pitino's roster last season. It was a bit difficult to understand, as Smith was setting scoring records, Harrell was setting dunk records, and Rozier was averaging a pedestrian 7.0 ppg to go with an equally pedestrian 18.9 minutes per game.

    Rozier has the one thing that Pitino's best guards in recent years haven't had: size. He's not quite a Harrison twin, but he has the frame and enough height to take full advantage of his NBA-ready athleticism (see this picture for further evidence). Getting to the rim is the easy part, it's the finishing that Rozier has to master in order to make the type of jump that a lot of people are predicting. With Smith and his insanely high usage rate off to the NBA, he'll have plenty of opportunities.

  79. D.elon Wright +
    Utah

    School: Utah
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    Utah has become a trendy sleeper pick this preseason, and the player who some numbers point to as the best in college basketball is at the center of that hype. The 6'5 combo guard played nearly 92 percent of the time in his first season as a Ute, and shot a ridiculous 63.3 percent from inside the 3-point line. He's arguably the best defender in the Pac-12, which makes developing a reliable shot from beyond the arc the only thing keeping him from becoming a lottery pick.

  80. A.aron Harrison +
    Kentucky

    School: Kentucky
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    After hitting decisive last-minute three-pointers from the same side of the court in three consecutive games to take Kentucky from the Sweet 16 to the national championship game, Harrison doesn't need to do all that much more to curry favor with the Big Blue Nation. While Andrew Harrison's freshman season was widely viewed as something of a disappointment (at least individually), there were many people who believed that Aaron's NBA Draft couldn't possibly surpass where it was after UK's run came to an end last April. Still Aaron and his twin both chose to return to Lexington with the hope of both winning one more game in the tournament and improving their draft prospects.

    Aaron's game is unlikely to look a great deal different than it did a season ago. He's still going to be big, he's still going to be capable of muscling into the lane and making shots or drawing fouls, and he's still going to be a solid outside threat. The only big change for the elder twin (by one minute) in his sophomore season is likely going to be the addition of freshman Devin Booker, a player who gives John Calipari another elite 6'6 outside shooter to work with. On nights when Aaron's shots aren't falling, it's unlikely that Calipari will be hesitant to send in the young(er) gun.

  81. C.hris Walker +
    Florida

    School: Florida
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Forward

    This felt like more than a bit of a leap of faith already, and then Walker went and got himself suspended for the first two games of the regular season. Still, I'm resisting the urge to send Walker down the land of the "also considered." Maybe I just have too much faith in people. I don't know.

    There's no point in any extended look at the pros and cons of the 6'10 former McDonald's All-American. If he decides he's going to grow up, focus, work hard and stay out of trouble, then he belongs in this spot, if not higher. If he doesn't, then he might not see him on the court after Christmas ... or at all. It's that simple.

  82. R.on Baker +
    Wichita State

    School: Wichita State
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    Let's get this out of the way first: it's time to stop with the Luke Skywalker jokes. They've all been made now. If I see you making one on Twitter come March, well, I'm not going to unfollow you because I feel really uneasy about taking that drastic step, but I'm definitely going to shake my head.

    It's safe to assume at this point that pigeonholing Ron Baker is a mistake. First he was the kid who couldn't really play, then he was the spot-up shooter, next it was the guy who did everything sufficiently but nothing extraordinarily, and now he's the guy some people are predicting will leave school a year early so he can be selected in the 2015 NBA Draft.

    Baker landed on the radar of many an NBA scout before his breakout season of 2013-14, mostly because they caught a glimpse of him while scouting teammate Cleanthony Early.

    "They all ask about Ron when they leave," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said of the scouts a year ago. "He's got a big-time stroke."

    Baker proved those scouts right during Wichita States lone loss last season, connecting on 7-of-12 shots and dropping 20 points on a Kentucky team littered with future pros. He'll have plenty more chances to showcase himself on yet another Wichita State team that will have the nation's attention.

  83. N.orman Powell +
    UCLA

    School: UCLA
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    The main topic of conversation the last handful of years in Westwood has shifted fluidly back and forth from coaching controversy to highly-touted recruits and freshmen. Norman Powell has been there all that time, quietly going about his business and consistently putting up numbers. Now, finally, it's his time.

    Powell is one of the best driving (and finishing) guards in the country, but he hasn't shown much over the past three years to make opposing defenses respect his outside shot. Still, his game is far more suited for Steve Alford's style than it was for Ben Howland's, and it showed in 2013-14. He was named by every media member in attendance as one of the top performers at this summer's adidas Nations camp, and all signs point to him being right in the mix for Pac-12 Player of the Year.

  84. W.illie Cauley-Stein +
    Kentucky

    School: Kentucky
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    The biggest surprise returnee on John Calipari's roster, Willie Cauley-Stein was assumed to have one foot in college and one in the NBA Draft for the entirety of last season. The eccentric 7-footer then surprised the college hoops world, and his head coach, by announcing in April that he planned to return to Lexington for another season.

    "He said, ‘One, I'm having a ball,'" Calipari told The Courier-Journal. "Two, I'm not ready for that league, to do what I want to do. Three, I want to win a (championship) before I leave.' Well then it's good reasons to come back."

    Cauley-Stein moves remarkably well for a person his size, and he doesn't block shots because he's big, he has terrific defensive instincts. Playing on a team that seems to have a dozen interchangeable big men will make it next-to-impossible for him to put up any eye-popping numbers, but that doesn't mean Cauley-Stein won't be one of the biggest reasons for Kentucky's national championship, should such an event occur.

  85. W.ayne Selden +
    Kansas

    School: Kansas
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Guard

    A shooting guard who looks like he might be able to be the Jayhawk football team's leading tackler, Wayne Selden's brute frame and proficiency in the paint has led head coach Bill Self to say he might use the 6'5 sophomore as a stretch four in certain situations. That lineup is unlikely to be the norm, but there's not really a position outside of center that Selden couldn't play adequately, even at the highest of levels. He can score from any spot on the court, he's both quick and strong enough to defend multiple possessions, and he's a powerful finisher around the rim.

    Many expected Selden to follow classmate Andrew Wiggins to the league after just one season at KU, but a nagging knee injury kept him from displaying the explosiveness that had made him one of the most coveted recruits in the country. Still, there was some doubt surrounding Selden's future in the days following Kansas' upset loss to Stanford in the NCAA Tournament, doubts which Selden says he put to bed immediately.

    "I knew I wanted to come back, probably even before the season was over," Selden said at Big 12 media day. "I knew where I wanted to be. I knew, from a team standpoint, we didn't accomplish what we wanted to accomplish last year. And I wanted more."

    Now not only is he back, but he's the unquestioned leader of a Kansas team that will start 2014-15 with yet another preseason top-five ranking.

  86. T.erran Petteway +
    Nebraska

    School: Nebraska
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    The fact that Terran Petteway still isn't a known commodity to any group of sports fans outside of Nebraskans and diehard college hoopheads is both disturbing and disappointing. All the 6'6 forward did in his first season as a Cornhusker was lead the Big 10 in scoring (18.6 ppg) and carry Nebraska to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 16 years.

    The Cornhusker State is in the midst of a basketball renaissance, and Petteway is at the center of it. That doesn't mean you're not going to have to explain who he is to your friends come March.

  87. T.yus Jones +
    Duke

    School: Duke
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Guard

    It's an interesting situation for Jones. He comes to Durham as the top-rated point guard from the class of 2014, but he's joining a team that already has a senior captain, Quinn Cook, who spent the past two seasons as the Blue Devils' floor general. That wasn't enough to scare away Jones, a five-star prospect who won the skills competition at the McDonald's All-American Game and posted the only double-double at the Jordan Brand Classic.

    Coach K has always been loyal to his upperclassmen, but he's also never been afraid to ask a multi-year starter to take on a new role if he believes it's best for the team (think Nolan Smith for Greg Paulus in 2008). Jones doesn't need time to adjust to the college game, and he's too talented to keep off the court. He'll be running the show before the calendar turns.

  88. C.hasson Randle +
    Stanford

    School: Stanford
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    If it's possible to "quietly" average almost 20 ppg for a Sweet 16 team, Randle pulled off the feat a season ago. Making the achievement more impressive is the fact that Randle pulled it off after Aaron Blight's injury forced him to slide over to the point. If freshman point guard Robert Cartwright proves himself up to the task, then the possibility to move Randle back to the wing will present itself to Johnny Dawkins.

    As hard as it is to imagine, Randle might wind up being even more dangerous as a senior.

  89. J.uwan Staten +
    West Virginia

    School: West Virginia
    Year: Senior
    Position: Guard

    The Big 12's preseason Player of the Year, Staten is coming off a second season in Morgantown in which he both led the conference in scoring and ranked second in assists. Staten doesn't have the ideal height or frame of an All-American point guard, but there are few players in the country who are faster with the ball in their hands.

    Perhaps the most impressive thing about Staten is that he plays more minutes than anyone in the Big 12, scores more than anyone in the Big 12, distributes (almost) more than anyone in the Big 12, and yet he's still averaging less than two turnovers per game as a Mountaineer. The only success he hasn't tasted at West Virginia is of the team variety, as Bob Huggins' program is coming off of two of the most disappointing seasons in recent memory.

  90. N.ic Moore +
    SMU

    School: SMU
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    If you were wondering why the Mustangs are starting the season ranked even after five-star signee Emmanuel Mudiay elected to spend his one year after high school playing in China, Nic Moore is your answer. The Illinois State transfer averaged 13.6 points, 4.9 assists, and 2.5 steals while shooting 43.6 percent from three last year for a Mustang team that should have been included in the field of 68.

    Moore has admitted that a couple of years ago he didn't know SMU was in Texas. Now he's the biggest reason why Mustang basketball has turned into one of top tickets in Dallas.

  91. G.eorges Niang+
    Iowa State

    School: Iowa State
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    If you had to single out one event as the low point of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, it'd be hard to look anywhere other than the broken foot suffered by Georges Niang in Iowa State's round of 32 win over North Carolina. The Cyclones ran most of their offense through Niang, who figured to be their largest advantage against Connecticut in the Sweet 16. Without him, the eventual national champions rolled to the Elite 8 off an 81-76 win that wasn't as close as the final score would indicate.

    Niang was a force last season as a sophomore, averaging 16.7 points, 4.5 points and an impressive 3.6 assists per game out of the post. Still, there were times when he looked slow and out-of-shape on the court, an observation that was backed up by the otherwise inexplicably long stretches he'd spend on the Iowa State bench. But before any significant weight loss project commences, there's usually a tipping point.

    "It was when someone told me I had bigger breasts than their girlfriend," the ISU star said at Big 12 media day. "I figured I should probably get myself together after that."

    Student sections of the Big 12 won't be privy to such material this winter, as Niang has transformed himself from a 240-pound BBM to an almost-unrecognizable 210-pound beast. Niang was the only thing holding himself back a season ago, and now he appears to be fully out of his own way. That's a scary thought (and sight) for the rest of the Big 12.

  92. C.aris Levert+
    Michigan

    School: Michigan
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    Caris LeVert is finally ready to make his Elmo-esque step into the spotlight after serving as an accent piece for a slew of NBA-bound Wolverines over the past two seasons. The Columbus native smoothly made the transition from little-used reserve to 35-minute-a-night starter last season, which should ease some of the fears in Ann Arbor over whether or not LeVert is ready to handle the role of feature player. Part of that concern is centered around the fact that LeVert is naturally shy (you thought I was going to make an introvert joke there, but swinging isn't as fun when the ball's on a tee), which is a far cry from recent stars like Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas.

    On the court, however, LeVert is an animal. His 6'7, 200-pound frame makes him a matchup nightmare for opposing shooting guards, and he's not one to back down from exploiting the advantage on either end of the court. After averaging just over 2.0 ppg as a freshman, LeVert took his minutes boost last season and turned himself into a second-team All-Big 10 performer in 2013-14. He shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc, and scored 20 or more points on eight different occasions.

    Now, for the first time in his college career, LeVert is heading into a season where he knows exactly what his role his. Recent history says we should expect him to respond in a major way.

  93. F.rank Kaminsky+
    Wisconsin

    School: Wisconsin
    Year: Senior
    Position: Center

    From virtual unknown to preseason Big 10 Player of the Year, it's been quite the 12 months for Frank Kaminsky.

    A year ago at this time, Kaminsky was consistently referenced as a center with a decent outside shot who didn't have the body or the game to compete with the other big men in his conference. All that changed for good on Nov. 19. That night, he set a school record by scoring 43 points against North Dakota with a performance that, at the time, appeared to be among the most improbable in the history of college basketball. You see, Kaminsky came into that evening having scored in double figures just five times in 74 games as a Wisconsin Badger. Hours later, he was just the second 7-footer in the last 15 years to score 40 or points in a game (Chris Kaman was the other).

    It was easy enough to chalk that performance up as a fluke, except Kaminsky just kept putting up numbers. He continued to display a skilled outside touch when defenders gave him enough room, but could also deftly move to the basket when opposing big men were forced to overextend. All of this led to one of the more surprisingly successful individual seasons in Wisconsin basketball history, and plenty of chatter that Kaminsky would parlay his breakout season into a declaration for the NBA Draft. The big man declined, and later described why on his personal blog.

    "I am at the pinnacle of my basketball playing career, at least in my eyes. I know the NBA has their crazy fans and all, but if you look at all of their games, there are games when teams like the Bobcats get hardly any fans, and it looks flat out boring. At the Kohl Center, we play in front of nearly 17,000 fans every single time we step onto the court. When we travel, we play in front of sellout crowds who absolutely hate us. Not because of who is on the team, but because of where we go to school. Who could leave that?"

    It's also worth noting that while he's commonly referred to as "Big Frank," Kaminsky's actual nickname is "Fupps" (pronounced "Foops") or "Big Daddy Fupps." If you were still on the fence about this guy, that should have sealed the deal.

  94. K.arl-Anthony Towns+
    Kentucky

    School: Kentucky
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Forward

    It's easy to assume that John Calipari has seen it all when it comes to five-star freshmen, but I'm not sure he's ever had a first-year player as uniquely talented as Karl-Anthony Towns. Despite standing 6'11 and weighing somewhere in the vicinity of 250 pounds, Towns has the ability to play as many as three positions. Because he's an able passer and can score facing the basket, there's a very real possibility that at some point this season we'll see Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson all on the floor at the same time. Assuming the Harrison twins are manning the guard positions, that would be a lineup featuring three guys 6'11 or taller, and nobody shorter than 6'5. That would be fun.

  95. F.red VanVleet+
    Wichita State

    School: Wichita State
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    Like the artists who only became household names years after they died alone and penniless, Fred VanVleet is a player whose beautiful game was never meant for this world. In an era where college basketball fans almost never watch a game without constantly refreshing Twitter or flipping over to check on another team, the subtleties that make VanVleet one of the best guards in the country are easy to miss.

    Sure VanVleet can beat you by scoring (11.3 ppg), by passing (5.4 apg), or with defense (69 steals last season), but what makes him truly great is that he sees the game the same way a mathematician sees a half-finished equation; he recognizes exactly what the present situation is, he knows exactly what the next three moves need to be in order to produce the desired result, and he knows what that desired result is. Teams don't go 35-1 without having at least one guy like that.

    Do yourself a favor this winter and spend one evening watching a Wichita State game from start to finish without any interruptions. The point guard for the Shockers will undoubtedly reward you for your effort.

  96. M.arcus Paige+
    North Carolina

    School: North Carolina
    Year: Junior
    Position: Guard

    As a sophomore, Marcus Paige was the consistent star of one of the most bipolar seasons in the history of North Carolina basketball. Whether the Tar Heels were beating the preseason top three (Kentucky, Michigan State and Louisville) before Christmas or losing to the likes of Belmont and UAB, Paige was out there getting buckets and helping teammates do the same. The result was a season, which saw him become the first UNC sophomore point guard since 1976 to earn first-team All-ACC honors, but which also ended without his team making it past the first weekend of the big dance.

    The return of Paige coupled with the addition of some highly-touted newcomers has resulted in expectations that are predictably high in Chapel Hill. While there's speculation about the talented freshmen and the improvement of the up-and-down veterans, Paige is a reassuringly known entity. He played both the point and the two as a sophomore, and despite shouldering the bulk of the scoring load, he averaged a team-high 4.2 assists per game and a solid 2.0 assist-to-turnover ratio.

  97. RHJR.ondae Hollis-Jefferson+
    Arizona

    School: Arizona
    Year: Sophomore
    Position: Forward

    A season after adequately fulfilling the modest freshman role he was assigned, RHJ is poised to become one of the sport's biggest names. The insanely athletic forward gave a preview of what's to come during Arizona's 2014 NCAA Tournament run, as he came off the bench to hit 18-of-27 shots and average 14.0 ppg over the Wildcats' four contests.

    No one doubts his ability or what he'll mean to a 'Zona squad that figures to be among the nation's elite all season, but just like at Kentucky, the number of stars on Sean Miller's roster could make it difficult for Hollis-Jefferson to post the numbers necessary to reel in the individual hardware he deserves. There are worse problems for both Miller and his future millionaire forward to have.

  98. M.ontrezl Harrell+
    Louisville

    School: Louisville
    Year: Junior
    Position: Forward

    In a season where the flood of postseason staying/going announcements were far more predictable than usual, no one's decision to return to school was more of a surprise than Montrezl Harrell's. The 6'8 forward had an NBA ready frame before he arrived at Louisville, he won a national championship season in his first season with the Cards, and then he effectively showed the basketball world that he was more than just a one-dimensional player as a sophomore. There didn't seem to be much else to do.

    "I honestly feel like I made the best choice for me," Harrell recently told The Courier-Journal. "Coming back to school and getting a year under my belt and playing in the ACC -- That's how the NBA is going to be. You have to play every night in the NBA because any given night you could lose. That's how it's going to be in the ACC. There's a lot of tough opponents that we're going to play both home and on the road. I feel like I've improved my game both offensively and defensively. I really have to get back to playing defense how I was in the past few years. I feel like my choice coming back to school was the best move for me."

    Even if he wants to showcase new facets of his game, there's little doubt that the violent dunks, which have become his trademark, will also be abundant inside ACC gyms this winter. Harrell dunked 98 times in 37 games last season, shattering the single-season record at a program more synonymous with the cram than any other. He then did some literal shattering in the summer, destroying backboards in two different states.

  99. S.tanley Johnson+
    Arizona

    School: Arizona
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Forward

    The 2014 McDonald's All-American Game MVP, Johnson is widely-regarded as the best two-way prospect in the country, and figures to be right in the middle of the No. 1 draft pick discussion for the duration of his short stay in college.

    In addition to appearing capable of dunking from any spot across mid-court, Johnson is already a proven winner. He went 135-7 and won four state championships at Mater Dei High School in California, and also captured a pair of gold medals with the USA Basketball U16 and U17 teams.

    Johnson has an affable personality and has spent the preseason saying all the right things, but his teammates haven't been quite as hesitant to anoint him as the next big thing. Fellow top-five honoree Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was recently asked after a few days of practice what the best way to guard Johnson was. His response? You can't.

  100. J.ahlil Okafor+
    Duke

    School: Duke
    Year: Freshman
    Position: Center

    It's always a risk to slide a guy who has yet to log a single college minute into this spot, but given that it's this guy and that none of 2014's first-, second- or third-team AP All-Americans returned to school for another season, I think it's understandable.

    Okafor isn't your typical "high-ceiling," "unlimited potential," "possible future No. 1 draft pick" freshman. All of those things have been used to describe him, sure, but he's a player who comes to Duke already remarkably polished. He has the same man-child body we're used to seeing from the top-rated player out of the past year's recruiting class, but he also has tremendous fundamentals and a level of maturity that will blend in perfectly with the culture in Durham. Basically, Okafor is Jabari Parker playing the center position.

    While he certainly has the frame to carve out plenty of space in the post, Okafor's footwork and ability to successfully utilize angles are likely to remind onlookers more of Tim Duncan than, say, Nerlens Noel. There will be no grace period here. Okafor is going to make more experienced college big men look like high schoolers from November through whenever Duke's 2015 tournament run ends.

  101. 50 MORE WHO JUST MISSED:

    D.J. Newbill, Penn State, Jarell Martin, LSU, Brad Waldow, Saint Mary's, Michael Qualls, Arkansas, Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova, Josh Scott, Colorado, Dwayne Polee, San Diego State, E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island, Tyler Ulis, Kentucky, Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga, Theo Pinson, North Carolina, Gary Bell Jr., Gonzaga, Daniel Hamilton, Connecticut, Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin, Wayne Blackshear, Louisville, Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga, Myles Mack, Rutgers, TaShawn Thomas, Oklahoma, David Kravish, California, Kellen Dunham, Butler, Daniel Bejarano, Colorado State, Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall, James Woodard, Tulsa, Marcus Lee, Kentucky, Phil Forte Jr., Oklahoma State, Zak Irvin, Michigan, Derrick Marks, Boise State, Jordan Goodman, New Mexico, Kaleb Joseph, Syracuse, Kenneth Smith, Louisiana Tech, James Blackmon, Indiana, Shawndre' Jones, Richmond, Monte Morris, Iowa State, Deonte Burton, Marquette, Chris McCullough, Syracuse, Joshua Smith, Georgetown, Mamadou N'Diaye, UC Irvine, Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina, Matt Stainbrook, Xavier, Kris Dunn, Providence, Tyler Harris, Providence, Quinn Cook, Duke, Shaq Goodwin, Memphis, Jake Layman, Maryland, Christopher Anderson, San Diego, Justin Jackson, North Carolina, Trey Lyles, Kentucky, Anthony Brown, Stanford, Kadeem Jack, Rutgers, D'Angelo Russell, Ohio State, Amida Brimah, Connecticut, Kaleb Tarczewski, Arizona, Rysheed Jordan, St. John's, Austin Nichols, Memphis.

About the Author

Mike Rutherford is a college basketball contributor for SBNation.com as well as the manager of Card Chronicle. He lives in Louisville, KY where he's still best known for a runner-up performance in the 1997 city spelling bee.

Mike likes most things, but not exclamation points. He hates exclamation points.

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