In college basketball, the trend seems to be that the best teams have extremely talented freshmen or one dominant player. The teams that consistently out-do these teams in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, however, are the teams with top point guards. When looking for the top point guards in college basketball, three names jump out at you.
Connecticut Huskies PG Shabazz Napier had the first triple-double of the 2013-14 college basketball season, has hit multiple game winning shots that include a buzzer beater over the Florida Gators and leads UConn in every statistic. The Huskies would not be a 2014 NCAA Tournament team without him.
The No. 1 Syracuse Orange‘s PG Tyler Ennis is another one of these elite college point guards, but a lot of his success has to do with the overall talent of the other Syracuse players. It’s hard to not have success when you’re passing to the likes of C.J. Fair, Jerami Grant and Trevor Cooney.
Ohio State Buckeyes PG Aaron Craft is really the heart and soul of the team. When he doesn’t play well, Ohio State loses. If he shoots too much, Ohio State loses. If he passes too much, Ohio State loses. He really has no room for error with the Buckeyes being such a hit or miss team.
However, the best point guard in the country isn’t any of these players; it’s Florida senior Scottie Wilbekin. The Gators are undefeated in the SEC at 11-0 and are currently on a 16-game winning streak. Florida just keeps rolling over opponents that clearly have opportunities to pull off the win. The Gators look almost unstoppable, and that has a lot to do with the play of Wilbekin at the point.
Wilbekin doesn’t lead these three other point guards in any statistic; he’s in the middle all across the board with turnovers, steals, rebounds, points and assists per game. The seemingly “averageness” of his stats when compared to the top point guards in the country is not a negative but a positive when it comes to his play. He’s not the go-to-guy like Napier or the guy who makes everything work like Craft and Ennis, but he’s the guy who rarely makes mistakes and will make plays when your team has to have them. That’s something that doesn’t show up on a stat sheet.
Defense wins championships, and there isn’t a player who defends harder one-on-one or rearranges his team into zone better than Wilbekin. He’s constantly talking to his teammates trying to get them to get back on defense and into position. Leadership skills like that aren’t something that a point guard can be taught very easily, and his natural leadership ability will help get Florida far in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Don’t sleep on Wilbekin in the 2014 NBA Draft either. He’s not ranked highly, but he’s got a lot of skills that transition well at the next level. If he shows out at the combine, he could easily make it onto an NBA roster that already has a top point guard, play a few minutes a game for his defense and learn from the elite point guard in the process. Undrafted free agency isn’t a curse in the NBA like it tends to be in the NFL – just look at former SEC point guard and Missouri Tiger Phil Pressey with the Boston Celtics.
The SEC doesn’t get as much attention from the media as some of the other conferences with top point guards, but that won’t matter when the Gators start getting hot a few rounds into March Madness. If the Gators want to go to at least the Elite Eight once again, Wilbekin will have to keep playing well.
However, Florida fans shouldn’t worry. One look at this experienced roster with Wilbekin at point and Billy Donovan at the helm will have other teams praying not to get put into the same region as the blue and orange team that leads the SEC.