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Top bigs: Sullinger's fresh, but he'll quickly be great


No list changes more drastically year to year than a list of the nation's best bigs.

They almost always turn pro early.

Whether it's Cole Aldrich, Greg Monroe, Patrick Patterson, Ed Davis, Craig Brackins, Derrick Favors, DeMarcus Cousins or pretty much anybody who's really tall and talented, history suggests the elite big men almost never spend much time in college. Remember that as you scan's list of the nation's top bigs, because my guess is that every player ranked in the top 10 will be in the NBA this time next year.

(Don't forget to read the explanation for these rankings in the blog. Also: Kentucky's Enes Kanter is not listed because it remains unclear when or even if he'll play college basketball. Otherwise, he'd be first or second.)

Top 10 Bigs
1. Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
It should come as no surprise that Sullinger tops this list given that he's a Preseason First Team All-American. If you take issue, that's fine. But if the reason you think this is crazy is because "Sullinger hasn't even played a college game yet," I'd advise finding another reason because that reason is stupid. There is an adjustment period to college, sure. But Sullinger will be great right from the start, and all doubters will be on board by December, at the latest.
2. JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)
Johnson was wise to return to school because there was no guarantee he'd be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. There's no guarantee it'll happen next June either, of course. But the 6-foot-11 senior will be better equipped to make the transition then, bigger, stronger, etc.
3. Marcus Morris (Kansas)
There's nothing flashy or sexy about Morris, but he's developed into a really nice college basketball player and legitimate NBA prospect. The Philadelphia native averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds last season. With Cole Aldrich gone, Morris will be even more of a focal point.
4. Jon Leuer (Wisconsin)
Leuer made a tremendous impression on everybody involved with USA Basketball this summer, and I mean everybody. Each time I've asked someone who trained with Team USA in Las Vegas for the name of the guy who most impressed or surprised them, Leuer was either the first or second person mentioned. He'll be the reason Wisconsin makes a 10th consecutive NCAA tournament under Bo Ryan.
5. Elias Harris (Gonzaga)
That Mark Few lost Austin Daye after his sophomore season and then kept Harris for a sophomore year is proof that trying to predict what underclassmen will do can be difficult. Either way, Harris is back. That's the point. He'll be one of the best forwards in the country, which should make the Zags one of the best teams out west, as usual.
6. Trey Thompkins (Georgia)
Thompkins told me earlier this month he never seriously considered entering the NBA Draft because he wanted to leave Georgia as a winner. Under second-year coach Mark Fox, he'll have that chance. He might also win SEC Player of the Year.
7. John Henson (North Carolina)
Henson didn't do much last season to deserve this ranking because he spent part of the year playing out of position. That won't be the case this season, and I won't be surprised if the 6-10 sophomore averages a double-double and teams with Harrison Barnes to help the Tar Heels challenge Duke -- not necessarily top Duke, just challenge Duke -- in the ACC.
8. Perry Jones (Baylor)
Jones isn't likely to have the same impact in his first season at Baylor that Ekpe Udoh had, but he'll be very good still. The 6-11 freshman is a freak athlete, a tremendous talent. He and LaceDarius Dunn could lead Baylor back to the Elite Eight, maybe even a Final Four.
9. Kevin Jones (West Virginia)
Jones sort of got lost in the shuffle last season (at least in terms of attention) because he was caught between Da'Sean Butler and Devin Ebanks. But the 6-8 forward still managed to average 13.5 points and 7.2 rebounds, and both numbers are sure to go up now that Butler and Ebanks are gone.
10. Kenneth Faried (Morehead State)
Most college basketball fans haven't seen Faried play, and so they tend to discount his gaudy statistics (16.9 points and 13.0 rebounds last season) as a case of a talent taking advantage of a subpar league. In some ways, that's fair. But know this: Faried would be an elite rebounder in any of the power conferences, which is why he'll likely be a first-round pick in next June's NBA Draft.

The next 15
11. Lavoy Allen (Temple) 16. Tracy Smith (N.C. State) 21. Mason Plumlee (Duke)
12. Jordan Williams (Maryland) 17. JaMychal Green (Alabama) 22. Matt Howard (Butler)
13. Derrick Williams (Arizona) 18. Tyler Zeller (North Carolina) 23. Mike Tisdale (Illinois)
14. John Shurna (Northwestern) 19. Yancy Gates (Cincinnati) 24. Herb Pope (Seton Hall)
15. Renardo Sidney (Mississippi State) 20. Jeff Allen (Virginia Tech) 25. Mike Davis (Illinois)

2010-11 Season Preview/Conference Countdown Schedule
Fri., Oct. 15Preseason Top 25 (and one) Fri., Oct. 29Conference No. 6: Pac-10
Mon., Oct. 18Preseason All-Americans Mon., Nov. 1Conference No. 5: SEC
Wed., Oct. 20Player rankings: Points/Combos Tues., Nov. 2Conference No. 4: ACC
Thurs., Oct. 21Player rankings: Wings Wed., Nov. 3Conference No. 3: Big East
Fri., Oct. 22Player rankings: Big men Thurs., Nov. 4Conference No. 2: Big 12
Mon., Oct. 25Coaches on the Hot Seat Fri., Nov. 5Conference No. 1: Big Ten
Wed., Oct. 27Best of the non-BCS Mon., Nov. 8Projections: Parrish | Palm

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.

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