I decided to leave Terrico White off the "point guards and combo guards" list and include him on the "shooting guards and wings" list. It was a decision that garnered an e-mail from every Ole Miss basketball fan, I'm certain.
"Where is Terrico White?!?" asked one reader.
"What about Terrico White at Ole Miss?" asked another.
"Are you an idiot?" asked another, and this is the way these things go. As I pointed out while explaining how I handle these player rankings, much of this is subjective because lots of guys play multiple positions and could be placed into two of the three categories I've created; White is one of those guys. But for better or worse, I decided to rank him with the shooting guards and wings, and I called Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy to ask his opinion.
"Terrico can do some primary ballhandling, but he's going to play shooting guard," Kennedy said. "That's what he is."
That's what I thought.
And so the debate about White should be settled.
As for the rest of these guys, man, I've got a headache.
Again, there are too many players who fit in multiple categories for us to agree on them all. But I had to make decisions on every player, and I figured this is a reasonable place to tell you I've decided to put White, Ohio State's Evan Turner and Memphis' Elliot Williams on the "shooting guards and wings" list because, well, that's just how I think of them when I think of them. Yes, I know all three will play some point, and that Turner and Williams will likely end up being their teams' primary point guards. But White and Williams are naturally off-the-ball players, and I still think of Turner as more of a wing than a point. So that's why they're on this list instead of Monday's list, and I hope you'll play along for the sake of playing along.
Also worth noting: I've decided Tennessee's Tyler Smith, Michigan State's Raymar Morgan and Dayton's Chris Wright should be considered "wings" even though they spend a lot of time around the paint, and I've decided Duke's Kyle Singler, Texas' Damion James, South Carolina's Dominique Archie, Wake Forest's Al-Farouq Aminu, Purdue's Robbie Hummel, Nevada's Luke Babbitt and West Virginia teammates Devin Ebanks and Da'Sean Butler should be considered "bigs" even though they spend a lot of time on the perimeter.
Is it perfect?
But these are the decisions I have to make.
Anyway, here's a list of the nation's top shooting guards and wings.
(Don't forget to read the explanation for these rankings in the blog.)
1. Willie Warren (Oklahoma)Why he's here: Warren averaged 14.6 points last season as Blake Griffin's sidekick. Now that the reigning National Player of the Year is dunking on Lakers in the NBA, expect Warren to increase his numbers significantly and make a run at becoming Oklahoma's second consecutive National Player of the Year.
2. Avery Bradley (Texas)Why he's here: Bradley isn't going to have the statistics to justify this ranking, but I don't care. What I like is that he'll be an important part of a Final Four-caliber team -- a lockdown defender and need-a-basket scorer who understands his role and knows how to blend with upperclassmen. Simply put, he's the perfect newcomer for this experienced Texas team. I won't be surprised if he's the reason the Longhorns win a national title.
3. Gordon Hayward (Butler)Why he's here: Hayward is a legit wing with great size -- a 6-9 shooter who is still under the radar to casual college basketball fans. Understand, this is not just a "good Horizon League player." He's talented enough to play anywhere in the country, good enough to lead Butler to an improbable Final Four.
4. Manny Harris (Michigan)Why he's here: Harris has flourished under John Beilein, evidence being how he averaged 16.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists last season while leading the Wolverines to the NCAA tournament. The talented guard should have Michigan back in the Field of 65 this season while he pushes for Big Ten Player of the Year honors.
5. Evan Turner (Ohio State)Why he's here: Like I wrote, I know Turner will spend a lot of time at point guard for the Buckeyes, as well he should; nothing wrong with putting the ball in your best player's hands. But this 6-7 junior really can play three positions, meaning he's just too versatile to not have on this list with the nation's other elite wings.
7. Tyshawn Taylor (Kansas)Why he's here: Taylor became a high-profile player because of that fight with the football team and his Facebook account. But before all that happened, he was impressive this summer with USA Basketball, and now he's got a chance to be a first-round draft pick if he can help the Jayhawks make good on their goal of winning a second national title in three years.
8. Terrico White (Mississippi)Why he's here: The return of Chris Warren from injury is what will have White playing off the ball, and it's going to be a lethal backcourt for Ole Miss. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Year averaged 13.7 points per game last season. Expect better numbers this season and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
9. Lance Stephenson (Cincinnati)Why he's here: I've been critical of Stephenson (and his insane recruitment), but don't make the mistake of assuming I don't understand his talent, because I do. The New York legend has unique gifts, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he adjusts to the college level. If it goes well, he'll lead the Bearcats to the NCAA tournament.
10. E'Twaun Moore (Purdue)Why he's here: Moore has been consistently good in his two years at Purdue while leading the Boilermakers to consecutive NCAA tournaments. He advanced to the second round as a freshman and to the Sweet 16 last season. A Final Four is possible this time around as long as everybody stays healthy and Moore remains solid.
The next 30
|• 11. Matt Bouldin (Gonzaga)||• 21. Klay Thompson (Washington State)||• 31. Aubrey Coleman (Houston)|
|• 12. Tyler Smith (Tennessee)||• 22. Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech)||• 32. Jeremy Hazell (Seton Hall)|
|• 13. Chris Wright (Dayton)||• 23. William Buford (Ohio State)||• 33. Mike Rosario (Rutgers)|
|• 14. Xavier Henry (Kansas)||• 24. Malcolm Lee (UCLA)||• 34. Wesley Witherspoon (Memphis)|
|• 15. Tasmin Mitchell (LSU)||• 25. Jordan Hamilton (Texas)||• 35. Osiris Eldridge (Illinois State)|
|• 16. Wesley Johnson (Syracuse)||• 26. Edwin Ubiles (Siena)||• 36. Ryan Thompson (Rider)|
|• 17. Jerome Dyson (Connecticut)||• 27. Sylven Landesberg (Virginia)||• 37. Jonathan Tavernari (BYU)|
|• 18. Raymar Morgan (Michigan State)||• 28. Steven Gray (Gonzaga)||• 38. Marcus Ginyard (North Carolina)|
|• 19. Patrick Christopher (California)||• 29. Dwight Lewis (USC)||• 39. Scotty Hopson (Tennessee)|
|• 20. Elliot Williams (Memphis)||• 30. Quincy Pondexter (Washington)||• 40. Durrell Summers (Michigan State)|
|2009-10 Season Preview/Conference Countdown Schedule|
|Monday, Oct. 5||Preseason Top 25 (and one)||Monday, Oct. 26||Coaches on the Hot Seat|
|Wednesday, Oct. 7||Preseason All-America Team||Wednesday, Oct. 28||Ranking the best of the non-BCS|
|Friday, Oct. 9||Impact Freshmen||Friday, Oct. 30||No. 6: Pac-10|
|Monday, Oct. 12||Programs on the Rise||Monday, Nov. 2||No. 5: SEC|
|Wednesday, Oct. 14||Programs on the Decline||Tuesday, Nov. 3||No. 4: Big East|
|Friday, Oct. 16||Midnight Madness | From Kansas||Wednesday, Nov. 4||No. 3: ACC|
|Monday, Oct. 19||Player rankings: Points/Combos||Thursday, Nov. 5||No. 2: Big Ten|
|Wednesday, Oct. 21||Player rankings: Wings||Friday, Nov. 6||No. 1: Big 12|
|Friday, Oct. 23||Player rankings: Big Men||Monday, Nov. 9||Brackets: Parrish | Palm|