College Basketball Preview: Fantasy draft of top players
Gary Parrish, Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander hold a fantasy-style draft of the top players in college hoops.
So we spent last week ranking college basketball's top 100 players, and we also broke them up by positions. I think I was mostly satisfied with the results. But the truth is that those lists don't completely reflect my views because I didn't compile those lists alone. Instead, I worked hand-in-hand with two of my colleagues -- Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander. And, in the spirit of full disclosure, we argued quite a bit throughout the process.
There are some guys on that list that I wouldn't put in the top 150.
There are others omitted that I think belong.
So, with that in mind, we decided to do something that would give each of us complete control over something that would be attached to our names, and what we came up with is a fantasy draft of sorts in which we would each select 13 players and try to build the best possible college basketball team we could build. Borzello picked first. Then Norlander. Then I picked twice, and, if you've ever owned a fantasy team, you know how this works. The results are below. We even included the commentary from our email exchange during our draft. So check it out. Then use the poll to tell us which of us built the best college basketball team for this college basketball season.
2013-14 CBSSports.com Draft
1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas (Borzello)
Comment: With the first pick in our 2013 College Basketball Draft, I'm taking my man Andrew Wiggins. Canada!
2. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State (Norlander)
Comment: I gotta go with Marcus Smart -- the proven/best point guard in college basketball. This leaves the door wide open for Parrish, I know. He's most definitely going to take Julius Randle, right?
3. Julius Randle, Kentucky (Parrish)
Comment: Of course I'm taking Randle. He's Michael Beasley without the issues and the best player on what I think will ultimately be the nation's best team. Appreciate you passing on him. I got college basketball's second-best NBA prospect without having to pick in the top two. And now I get to pick again.
4. Doug McDermott, Creighton (Parrish)
Comment: Randle and McDermott might not fit together perfectly, I admit. But I'm almost always going to go with the best player available, and McDermott is the best college basketball player available. So he's the pick. And it looks like my starting frontcourt is going to lead our league in double-doubles.
5. Jabari Parker, Duke (Norlander)
Comment: I don't know if Borzello would take him if he were out there, but I won't chance it. While Wiggins' talent is undeniable and Randle's physical abilities are groundbreaking, let's not rule out -- and right now, it feels ruled out -- that Parker could have the best freshman campaign in college basketball this year.
6. Russ Smith, Louisville (Borzello)
Comment: Like everyone, Smith has some negatives. But what he does well far outweighs those. He's a pest defensively, can score in a variety of ways, and has an infectious personality. That last part will balance out Wiggins and his introverted personality.
7. Jahii Carson, Arizona State (Borzello)
Comment: I know Carson and Smith make for an undersized backcourt, but have fun guarding them on the perimeter and trying to bring the ball up against them. Carson might be the nation's most explosive guard going to the rim, and he gets to the foul line. With the new rules, he's impossible to keep out of the lane.
8. Gary Harris, Michigan State (Norlander)
Comment: Before we go any further, I have to mention how much I love our controlled confidence and tone with these draft picks. Borzello's writing sounds nothing like what he'd be saying if we were doing this draft in person. (Also: it would be weird to do this draft in person.) I'm taking Harris because he's the best combination of true shooting ability and defense that exists in college basketball.
9. Aaron Craft, Ohio State (Parrish)
Comment: I was going to take Harris with this pick, if available. But he's gone. And I can't reasonably take another forward at this point. So give me Craft -- college basketball's best pure point guard and one of the sport's top perimeter defenders. This also gives me two seniors in my starting lineup, at least. So nobody will be able to dismiss my team as too young and inexperienced.
10. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (Parrish)
Comment: My big board -- yes, I have a big board -- says I should take another power forward, specifically Aaron Gordon. But I can't take a third power forward in the top 10. I just can't. So I'm going with Robinson. He's a natural wing with a lot of upside who played in last season's title game.
11. Aaron Gordon, Arizona (Norlander)
Comment: I've already locked up my starting 1, 2 and 3. So let's go with a 4. Gordon's already drawn some unfair-at-this-age comparisons to Blake Griffin because he's likely to make as many highlights this season as any other player in college. But, unlike Griffin, Gordon can actually step away from the rim and be capable. On a loaded Arizona team, he's the best player. Good enough for me at No. 11 in this draft.
12. Joel Embiid, Kansas (Borzello)
Comment: I wanted Gordon badly, but I'll get him when he transfers from your team because he wants to be a small forward and you're not letting him. In our world, players can immediately transfer and suit up the next week. It's like fantasy football. With transfers. Anyway, I need a big guy, so I'm going with Embiid. People who have seen practice insist that he's going to be one of the best centers in the country, and draft guys have him in the top 10.
13. Adreian Payne, Michigan State (Borzello)
Comment: If Embiid needs some extra time to develop or doesn't pan out, I've got Payne as his sidekick up front. I chose him over Willie Cauley-Stein because I feel like he can score at the rim without lobs and transition finishes. I'll motivate him to be focused and dominate every game.
14. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky (Norlander)
Comment: I take Gordon from you, you take Embiid from me. And Gordon's not transferring. And I don't know what clown-show rules you're drumming up here. (Send me the rulebook so I know what I'm dealing with here.) Cauley-Stein's getting plucked because I've now got a starter at every position with my first five picks. And all five could conceivably be lottery picks in 2014.
15. Mitch McGary, Michigan (Parrish)
Comment: I'll admit I'm kinda digging Norlander's starting five. But, that said, are y'all just gonna let a lottery pick and possible First Team All-American -- a guy who averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds in last season's NCAA tournament -- drop to me here? Cool. Now I have a true big and options in my frontcourt.
16. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky (Parrish)
Comment: The more heralded of the Harrison twins is just too good to pass on at 16. He's big enough to play off the ball. So he'll fit fine with Craft in my backcourt, and I might try to get his twin a little later on just to keep him comfortable and stuff.
17. Montrezl Harrell, Louisville (Norlander)
Comment: You can have McGary, Parrish. My guess is he'll be the least accomplished -- while still being good -- of the bigs drafted ahead of him. I'm going with Harrell, a possible lottery pick, because he'll be a great sub off the bench, and I think he's in for a beastly season.
18. Isaiah Austin, Baylor (Borzello)
Comment: I want to make sure I have another big in case Embiid and Payne have some inconsistencies. Austin has a versatile offensive game, and has an extremely high ceiling. He just needs to bulk up.
19. James Young, Kentucky (Borzello)
Comment: From everything I've been told, Young has been absurd in practices so far for Kentucky. He's athletic, can get his own shot, and knocks down perimeter jumpers. He can come off the bench or start at shooting guard when I want to go big.
20. Wayne Selden, Kansas (Norlander)
Comment: You take one preseason freak in practice, I'll take another. Everyone who's been to Kansas has said that Selden has clearly been the best player for the Jayhawks. He's a freak guard who might end up threatening Wiggins in terms of leading the Jayhawks in points. On my team, ultimate spark plug. I love spark plugs that can put up 20. So sparky.
21. C.J. Fair, Syracuse (Parrish)
Comment: The preseason ACC Player of the Year is still available? Awesome. He's mine now. And now I'll just sit around and wait for Syracuse fans to call you guys stupid for letting Fair fall to me. Because, trust me, they think you're stupid for letting Fair fall to me -- and they probably think I'm stupid for not taking Fair in the top 10.
22. Semaj Christon, Xavier (Parrish)
Comment: You can never have too many ball-handlers -- especially ball-handlers with size. Christon was off the radar last season because Xavier was down. But NBA scouts know all about him, and he'll be great off my bench.
23. Kyle Anderson, UCLA (Norlander)
Comment: I want another player at the point, and I love Anderson as a point forward. He's not a physical or speedy player, but I enjoy his style and think he's a nice wrinkle within the empire I'm constructing.
24. Shabazz Napier, UConn (Borzello)
Comment:Just another small guard to add to my perimeter corps. He was one of the best guards in the country last season, and won't slow down as a senior. Napier can handle the ball or play in the backcourt with another ball-handler -- which works well with my rotation.
25. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado (Borzello)
Comment: I've got three guards that are 6-1 or smaller, and Dinwiddie brings 6-6 size and the ability to play both positions in the backcourt. He's also a terrific defender. If I need to go big, I can roll with Dinwiddie and James Young as my guards. Awesome. There's plenty of forwards still on my big board, so I can wait for those in the next round.
26. Rodney Hood, Duke (Norlander)
Comment: The three of us combined to rate Hood as the 14th-best player in the nation in our Top 100 list, and I'm scooping him up at 26th overall? Not too big, not to small, plays well with or off the ball. Somebody call the Beastie Boys, 'cause I'm rhymin' and stealin'.
27. Jordan Adams, UCLA (Parrish)
Comment: Have we really reached the point where you're quoting lyrics? Thank god this is almost over. Either way, I love that Norlander took a UCLA Bruin but left me the guy who was UCLA's best player last season. Adams is coming off my bench and getting buckets.
28. Joe Harris, Virginia (Parrish)
Comment: So now I have the ACC Preseason Player of the Year and the ACC's leading returning scorer. Harris gives me another versatile and experienced player.
29. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State (Norlander)
Comment: GP, you're my guy; I wanted to toss you a bone and leave Adams out there because I know you love him. I'll go with Early because he's the Valley's best player, pretty versatile/fearless -- and also my first senior. I'll take talent over experience every day of the week, but a cluster of seniors is never a bad thing.
30. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin (Borzello)
Comment: I loved Dekker in high school, and he really started to come into his own during Big Ten play last season. He should take the next step this season and become one of the best players in the conference. Plus, he's another versatile player. I covet that as coach/owner/AD/GM of this squad.
31. Aaron Harrison, Kentucky (Borzello)
Comment: I wouldn't be remotely surprised if Harrison leads the Wildcats in scoring. At times, he's the more dangerous of the twins, capable of knocking down shots from deep and getting to the rim off the bounce.
32. Alex Kirk, New Mexico (Norlander)
Comment: You're now calling yourself a coach/owner/AD/GM, Borzello? With you manning all four of those positions, your team is doomed, dude. I'm taking Kirk because I want/need more size. Kirk has bulk, had a big season last year and definitely can give me clog and beef on the block.
33. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee (Parrish)
Comment: I too could use a little more bulk on my frontline, Norlander. So give me Stokes, who is undeniably bulky. He and McGary, when I play them together, will be capable of muscling pretty much everybody. Just two relentless bulky dudes.
34. Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss (Parrish)
Comment: I want my team to be fun, and nobody's more fun than Henderson. So we're not just gonna beat you. We're gonna beat you and rub it in, too. And then we're grabbing beers.
35. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke (Norlander)
Comment: Henderson's ... fun. He's also currently suspended. And we know Parrish ain't suspending anybody. I need a little more aggression and reliability on defense. I can't believe this is my third Duke player, but Sulaimon is a tough SOB. If he were gone I'd take Memphis' Michael Dixon. But I'm giddy with Sulaimon here.
36. LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State (Borzello)
Comment: I'm just drafting matchup problems left and right. Ross was up and down last season, but he averaged 17 points in his final three games of the NCAA tournament last season. He has the potential and ability to be a go-to-guy offensively. Plus, he's just a scorer off the bench for me. That's right up his alley.
37. Noah Vonleh, Indiana (Borzello)
Comment:It's my last pick, and I have a bunch of string beans in the frontcourt besides Embiid. Vonleh has some strength and he's listed at 240 pounds. He was one of the best rebounders at the high school level last season, and he has some ability around the basket too. He's worth it for my last pick.
38. Nik Stauskas, Michigan (Norlander)
Comment: Gimme the wing with size and serious shooting ability -- plus an underrated asset of slashing, too. If this guy's my final option at the end of the pine, I think I'm going to be OK. Then again, this is all fantasy and we're really way too into this alternative universe. OK, GP, you've got the final pick. Who's it gonna be?
39. Dakari Johnson, Kentucky (Parrish)
Comment: I wanted to add another true post player with my last pick, and so why not take a flyer on a freshman who could be a star? Beyond that, this gives me three Kentucky players -- one more than either of you. Which means I should have UK fans on my side in the accompanying poll, and that can't possibly be a bad thing. (Go vote, Big Blue Nation! Go vote!)
G: Aaron Craft (Ohio State)
G: Andrew Harrison (Kentucky)
F: Glenn Robinson III (Michigan)
F: Doug McDermott (Creighton)
F: Julius Randle (Kentucky)
G: Jordan Adams (UCLA)
G: Semaj Christon (Xavier)
G: Joe Harris (Virginia)
G: Marshall Henderson (Ole Miss)
F: C.J. Fair (Syracuse)
F: Mitch McGary (Michigan)
F: Jarnell Stokes (Tennessee)
C: Dakari Johnson (Kentucky)
G: Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State)
G: Gary Harris (Michigan State)
F: Jabari Parker (Duke)
F: Aaron Gordon (Arizona)
F: Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)
G: Kyle Anderson (UCLA)
G: Wayne Selden (Kansas)
G: Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke)
F: Cleanthony Early (Wichita State)
F: Montrezl Harrel (Louisville)
F: Rodney Hood (Duke)
F: Nik Stauskas (Michigan)
C: Alex Kirk (New Mexico)
G: Jahii Carson (Arizona State)
G: Russ Smith (Louisville)
F: James Young (Kentucky)
F: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)
C: Joel Embiid (Kansas)
G: Spencer Dinwiddie (Colorado)
G: Aaron Harrison (Kentucky)
G: Shabazz Napier (Connecticut)
F: Isaiah Austin (Baylor)
F: Sam Dekker (Wisconsin)
F: Adreian Payne (Michigan State)
F: LaQuinton Ross (Ohio State)
F: Noah Vonleh (Indiana)
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