Top 50 Players in College Basketball Heading Into the 2014 NCAA Tournament
Ranking Top 50 Players Heading Into 2014 NCAA Tournament
The 2013-14 college basketball season has been as good – and unpredictable – as any in recent memory. If you’re a college basketball junkie, you surely know that this season has been as upset-ridden and crazy as any.
For the rest of the casual college basketball fans, you must realize that this season is quite unique in the way that no team has been able to remain “dominant” for the entire year. Even the unbeaten Syracuse Orange and Wichita State Shockers aren’t exactly considered dominant as both teams have had multiple scares against lesser teams – Syracuse had two scares in a row in mid-February against the Pittsburgh Panthers on the road as well as the North Carolina State Wolfpack at home.
When it comes time for the NCAA Tournament, anyone can take home the crown. In fact, it’s easy to see that anyone can beat anyone on any given night. A basketball season like this is something that will make March Madness even madder than in years past.
You can bet there will be dozens of upsets in this year’s tournament and brackets will be busted left and right – for those fans who need to fill out a bracket.
This is the best time of the year for college basketball – and maybe sports as a whole. March Madness brings out the crazy basketball fan in us all and we are glued to the TV for hours at a time, hoping our brackets hold up and the upsets that we chose come through in crunch time.
It has been a great year for college basketball stars as well. I have compiled a list of the top 50 players in college basketball prior to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Let me know if you agree or disagree with any of the guys on this list. Not all the players on this list are guaranteed a spot in the tournament, however.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at email@example.com.
Isaiah Austin, Baylor: 11.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, 1.3 assists
Semaj Christon, Xavier: 16.4 points, 4.0 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 49.3% FG
Treveon Graham, VCU: 15.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists
Cory Jefferson, Baylor: 13.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks
Alex Kirk, New Mexico: 14.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.7 blocks
Wayne Selden, Kansas: 10.4 points, 2.6 assists, 2.5 rebounds
Patric Young, Florida: 10.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 54.4% FG
50. Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Aaron Craft is one of the best defenders in the nation -- which makes up for his lack of offensive production. He is the clear leader of the Buckeyes and the reason they will be a threat in March.
Season: 9.5 points, 4.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 steals
49. Jabari Brown, Missouri
Brown is looking to help lead the Missouri Tigers(18-7) into the tournament. He has been the top scorer on the team and a legitimate threat for conference player of the year
Season: 20.5 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 49.8% FG, 45.7% 3FG
48. Jerrelle Benimon, Towson
Towson has a solid chance of winning the Colonial Conference and heading into the tourney, but they will need to rely heavily on one of the nation's best players in Benimon.
Season: 18.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 blocks
47. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
Gonzaga(23-4) looks to be headed to yet another NCAA Tournament berth and that is due, in large part, to the play of its star point guard, Kevin Pangos.
Season: 15.2 points, 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 41.8% 3FG
46. Antoine Mason, Niagara
Although Niagara(6-21) is one of the worst teams in the nation, it's almost impossible to leave off one of the best players from a mid-major conference. Mason is the nation's second-leading scorer and he has the body of an athlete who can be a star at the next level.
Season: 25.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.3 steals
45. Terran Petteway, Nebraska
Petteway single-handedly took down the No. 9 Michigan State Spartans on the road on Feb. 16. He is one of the Big Ten's scoring leaders and has Nebraska fighting for a spot in the tourney.
Season: 17.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals
44. Jordan Clarkson, Missouri
Jordan Clarkson is lucky enough to have a talented teammate like Jabari Brown to complement his game in the backcourt. In fact, the Missouri Tigers might have the best backcourt duo in college basketball.
Season: 18.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals
43. Fred VanVleet, Wichita State
Fred VanVleet is one of the best passers in college basketball these days and the Wichita State point guard has the Shockers looking at a 27-0 record with just four games remaining.
Season: 11.9 points, 5.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 2.0 steals, 42.4% 3FG
42. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
There's a debate on which Wisconsin player is better, Frank Kaminsky or Sam Dekker. I'm going with Dekker even though Kaminsky is turning into a star.
Season: 13.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 47.9% FG
41. Keith Appling, Michigan State
While Keith Appling has been fighting through injuries for the better part of a month now, he has the skill, speed and potential to be one of the best point guards in the nation. Once he is healthy, the Spartans(21-5) will be a scary team.
Season: 14.4 points, 4.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 40.0% 3FG
40. James Bell, Villanova
There's a big reason why Villanova(22-3) has seen so much success this season and it's strong play from underrated players. James Bell, a senior guard, is one of those underrated players and he can do it all.
Season: 16.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 41.1% 3FG
39. Bryce Cotton, Providence
It will likely take a conference tournament title for Providence(17-9) to make the tournament, but Bryce Cotton will be a guy to keep an eye on in the future.
Season: 21.2 points, 5.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals
38. Joseph Young, Oregon
Although Oregon(16-8) underperformed greatly this season, a tournament appearance seems highly possible. Joseph Young has been a huge bright spot for the Ducks.
Season: 18.7 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 40.8% 3FG
37. T.J. Warren, North Carolina State
T.J. Warren is one of the most underrated players in college basketball. It will take a mammoth effort by the sophomore forward to help North Carolina State(16-9) earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Season: 23.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 52.0% FG
36. Jordan Adams, UCLA
The Bruins(20-5) are one of the best teams in the Pac-12 and Jordan Adams has been an All-American type of talent for the team.
Season: 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 steals, 2.2 assists
35. Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
There's one thing that's more impressive than his smack talk -- and that's his points per game average.
Season: 19.5 points, 2.3 assists, 1.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals
34. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina
Based solely on potential, McAdoo could be a top-20 player in the nation, but he and the underachieving -- and somewhat confusing -- Tar Heels(18-7) still have a lot to prove.
Season: 14.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.0 blocks
33. DeAndre Kane, Iowa State
Iowa State(19-5) has been one of the best teams in the country that no one talks about this season. The Cyclones also have two stars on their team -- Kane is one of them.
Season: 15.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 1.4 steals
32. Joe Jackson, Memphis
Jackson, a senior point guard for Memphis(19-6), has gradually gotten better each of the past four seasons and he is ending his career on a high note. The talented point guard will also look to help his team get to the Final Four.
Season: 15.0 points, 4.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals
31. Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh(20-5) is having quite the season and Lamar Patterson is having a career-year in every category. It looks like the Panthers will be a tough out in March thanks to Patterson.
Season: 17.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals, 40.0% 3FG
30. Chaz Williams, Massachusetts
Massachusetts(20-5) is in a surprisingly-tough Atlantic 10 Conference this season and Chaz Williams is hoping to give his teams the edge as one of the conference's top players and one of the best passers in the nation.
Season: 15.4 points, 7.3 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals
29. Kendall Williams, New Mexico
New Mexico(19-5) has been pretty successful this season and there are a few star big men on the team, but they need a guard like Kendall Williams to have the type of success that they have experienced.
Season: 17.2 points, 5.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 42.6% 3FG
28. Jordan McRae, Tennessee
Jordan McRae is one of the best senior guards in the nation and he is hoping to give his Volunteers(15-10) a berth in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
Season: 19.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 blocks
27. Tyler Haws, BYU
It might be a miracle if BYU(18-10) makes the tournament, but it's still possible. Tyler Haws has been a superstar for the Cougars and could end up heading for the NBA draft -- even though he would be wise to stay. He is making BYU fans forget Jimmer Fredette slowly but surely.
Season: 24.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals, 44.2% 3FG
26. Xavier Thames, San Diego State
Thames has doubled his offensive production from a year ago and he could be one of the most improved players in the nation for San Diego State(22-2) -- nearly cracking my top 25.
Season: 17.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 40.9% 3FG
25. Kyle Anderson, UCLA
The other half of one of the nation's best young backcourts is UCLA's Kyle Anderson. The guard/forward is a scary offensive threat and he can literally do everything.
Season: 15.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.6 steals, 52.4% 3FG
24. Cameron Bairstow, New Mexico
Everyone was talking about Alex Kirk, not Cameron Bairstow, as New Mexico's best big man prior to the season. Well, the 6-foot-9 Australian forward has changed that talk pretty quickly.
Season: 20.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.4 blocks, 57.0% FG
23. Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
Marble has been somewhat inconsistent at times for Iowa(19-6) this season, but the senior guard has the ability to take over games -- like he did against the Michigan Wolverines(18-7) on Feb. 8 when he scored 26 points.
Season: 16.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.9 steals
22. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State
If there is any player that you would trust to keep a perfect season alive, it's Cleanthony Early. The senior forward is a leader and one of the best at his position in the nation.
Season: 16.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 46.1% FG
21. Casey Prather, Florida
Florida(23-2) is one of the scariest teams out there right now. With 17 straight wins, the Gators are looking like a legitimate title threat and the likely favorite right now. Senior forward Casey Prather has been a huge part of the run they've had.
Season: 15.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 62.4% FG
20. Jahii Carson, Arizona State
Jahii Carson just led the Sun Devils(19-6) to a huge upset over in-state foe Arizona(23-2) last week. The sophomore guard is going to be a star in the NBA one day, but for now, the sophomore will continue to dominate college basketball.
Season: 18.9 points, 4.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 39.4% 3FG
19. Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
Yogi Ferrell might be a big undersized, but his scoring rate is very large. Ferrell leads the Big Ten in points per game this season.
Season: 17.9 points, 3.9 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 42.1% 3FG
18. Melvin Ejim, Iowa State
There is a reason Iowa State has been so successful this season -- and it's the toughness and talent of big man Melvin Ejim.
Season: 18.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 52.1% FG
17. Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Aaron Gordon is the stud freshman that the Arizona Wildcats snagged in recruiting in the offseason and it looks like he is going to be a star one day.
Season: 11.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 47.4% FG
16. Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Deciding to come back to Michigan State seems like it was the correct choice for Payne. The big man was projected as a possible lottery-to-late-first round selection last season, but his choice to come back has made the nation take even more notice of his freakish athleticism.
Season: 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 52.6% FG, 43.1% 3FG
15. Rodney Hood, Duke
Rodney Hood was a great transfer addition for the Blue Devils(20-5) this offseason and the sophomore could be a staple of Duke's frontcourt for year to come.
Season: 16.3 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 44.3% 3FG
14. Nick Johnson, Arizona
Nick Johnson is a facilitator and a huge piece to the Arizona championship-winning puzzle.
Season: 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.2 steals
13. Nik Stauskas, Michigan
Nik Stauskas has been scary-good this season. He is deadly from three-point range and has the Wolverines atop the Big Ten standings.
Season: 16.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 44.0% 3FG
12. Gary Harris, Michigan State
Gary Harris is basically Stauskas' direct rival in the Big Ten. Harris is having a stellar sophomore season and Michigan State fans will be hoping and praying that he comes back for another year.
Season: 17.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 steals
11. Russ Smith, Louisville
Smith was a preseason candidate for multiple awards and he still may win one, but it's hard to earn respect when Louisville(21-4) is in a poor conference this year.
Season: 17.7 points, 4.6 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 38.9% 3FG
10. C.J. Fair, Syracuse
C.J. Fair is a big reason why Syracuse(25-0) is still one of two unbeaten teams left in college basketball.
Season: 16.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 steals
9. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Sean Kilpatrick has Cincinnati(23-3) as one of the best teams in the nation as quite a surprise. The senior guard may have just played himself into a solid draft pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
Season: 20.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals
8. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse
Losing Michael Carter-Williams looked to be a huge blow to Syracuse after last season, but the Orange have reloaded at the point guard position with freshman Tyler Ennis.
Season: 11.8 points, 5.6 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 steals
7. Joel Embiid, Kansas
Andrew Wiggins was the talk of college basketball prior to the season, but freshman center Joel Embiid has shared the spotlight with his fellow freshman. Some think Embiid could be the first overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Season: 10.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 1.3 assists, 61.2% FG
6. Julius Randle, Kentucky
Julius Randle is a big boy. The Kentucky(19-6) star is going to be a force for the remainder of the season and could be a solid big man at the next level. He is one of the most physical players in the nation and a tough guy to match up with.
Season: 15.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 52.9% FG
5. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Expectations have been high for starting point guards at Connecticut(20-5) since Kemba Walker. Well, senior point guard Shabazz Napier is living up to those expectations.
Season: 18.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.9 steals, 42.1% 3FG
4. Doug McDermott, Creighton
Many think Creighton's(21-4) Doug McDermott is going to run away with the Wooden and Naismith awards, but I still think there are more talented players than him. However, he is the top scorer in college basketball.
Season: 25.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 51.3% FG, 44.4% 3FG
3. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Andrew Wiggins has been the talk of the nation this year and has yet to really live up to his extreme potential -- even though he is already putting up huge numbers as a freshman. Based on potential and talent alone, he is a top-three player.
Season: 16.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.0 steals
2. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Smart pulled off a not-so-smart move last week when he shoved an older fan in the stands. However, he has all the talent in the world and word has come out that the man was heckling him with racial slurs -- which helps Smart's case a bit. He will be a top draft pick come June.
Season: 17.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.3 steals
1. Jabari Parker, Duke
In my opinion, Jabari Parker is the best overall player in college basketball. He's smart with a high basketball IQ, has extreme amounts of potential, he can score and he's already a leader. Parker would be the No. 1 pick if he leaves Duke after his freshman year. However, he's got such a good head on his shoulders that he is considering coming back for his sophomore season.
Season: 19.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 blocks, 1.0 steals