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Candid Coaches: Which NCAA player would you take over all others?

Fred VanVleet (USATSI)
Wichita State junior guard Fred VanVleet scored 11.6 points per game last season. (USATSI)

More College Basketball: Early Top 25 (And One) | Coaching changes

CBSSports.com college basketball writers Gary Parrish, Jeff Borzello and Matt Norlander spent the July recruiting period at various NCAA-sanctioned events, where they talked with coaches from all levels. They asked for honest opinions on prospects, players, coaches and issues. They'll be sharing those opinions over a three-week period.

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Despite the fact freshmen went first, second, third and fourth in the 2014 NBA Draft, it was a senior (Doug McDermott) who won National Player of the Year while another (Shabazz Napier) led his team to the national championship. In other words, the best basketball talents weren't necessarily the top college basketball players, and this reality is why rating college players as "college" players can be difficult, because the best long-term prospects aren't always true difference-makers at the NCAA level.

So what do you prefer -- upside or a proven commodity?

Youth and flash or experience and reliability?

Today's question: If you could pick any Division I player and put him on your team for this season, which Division I player would you pick?

  • Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin): 17 percent
  • Jahlil Okafor (Duke): 16 percent
  • Fred VanVleet (Wichita State): 15 percent
  • Marcus Paige (North Carolina): 10 percent
  • Montrezl Harrell (Louisville): 7 percent
  • Sam Dekker (Wisconsin): 5 percent

Others receiving multiple votes: Ron Baker (Wichita State), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky), Andrew Harrison (Kentucky), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona), Stanley Johnson (Arizona), Tyus Jones (Duke), Georges Niang (Iowa State).

FIVE QUOTES THAT STOOD OUT

On Kaminsky: "He's 7-foot, skilled and proven in big games. Hard to beat that."

On Okafor: "He's the best talent and college-ready [freshman] in the group. His polish in the paint is rare."

On VanVleet: "I love Fred VanVleet. I recruited him when I was an assistant and saw him his junior year in high school. Great family. I remember after the game I saw you would have thought Fred was the pied piper. Everyone in that gym wanted to talk to him. He is a born leader and a terrific player."

On Paige: "He really doesn't get enough credit for what he did for North Carolina last season. Won't surprise me if he's the National Player of the Year."
On Harrell: "People still think he's just an athlete, but he's really developed a jumper and can hurt you in a bunch of ways. I'm still shocked he came back to school."

THE TAKEAWAY (BY GARY PARRISH)

The fact 22 players received at least one vote (and nobody got as much as 20 percent of the vote) underlines something I touched on last week -- specifically that there isn't a consensus top player heading into this season. That's the by-product of every single first-, second- and third-team AP All-American no longer being in college combined with the theory that this year's freshman class is inferior to last year's.

All that said, Frank Kaminsky is a reasonable choice.

He averaged 13.9 points and 6.3 rebounds (for a tempo-challenged team) while shooting 52.8 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from 3-point range en route to leading Wisconsin to the Final Four, and his 28-point, 11-rebound effort against Arizona in the Elite Eight represented one of the best performances of the entire NCAA Tournament. Like one coach told us, Kaminsky is 7-foot, skilled and proven in big games, and his decision to return to college for his senior year ensured the Badgers will be picked to win the Big Ten.

(Wisconsin is No. 4 in the preseason Top 25 (and one), for what it's worth.)

Does Kaminsky have the NBA future of Jahlil Okafor?

That's debatable, I guess. But Kaminsky absolutely has an NBA future and could theoretically go in the lottery of next June's NBA Draft. We'll see. In the meantime, it'll be interesting to monitor how the onetime unheralded recruit handles additional spotlight. This time last year, Kaminsky would not have even been listed among the nation's top 100 players. Now, after a great junior season, he's the guy college coaches told us they'd take over every other college player, and that is quite a leap for somebody who averaged just 2.8 points through his first two years in the Big Ten.

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