Kentucky is loaded. Everyone knows that. The Wildcats -- according to our calculations -- have five of the top dozen players in the Final Four. Our crew -- Jeff Goodman, Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander and Jeff Borzello -- ranked the top 30 players who will play in New Orleans this week.
It's obviously no surprise that UK freshman Anthony Davis and fellow National Player of the Year candidate Thomas Robinson check in at 1-2. However, when does the first player from Rick Pitino's squad crack the list? We base this on their college production, not their pro potential -- or else we would have another Kentucky freshman much higher.
|Top 30 players|
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky: He was our National Player of the Year for a reason. No one impacts the game on the defensive end like Davis -- and he began to show his skill on the offensive end over the past month.
2. Thomas Robinson, Kansas: T-Rob waited his turn for two years behind Cole Aldrich and the Morris twins. He gets after it on the offensive end and on the glass -- and has led a thin Jayhawks team all year long.
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky: His perimeter shot isn't pretty, but MKG plays hard on both ends. He's athletic and is deadly in transition.
5. Aaron Craft, Ohio State: There's no better perimeter defender in the nation and Craft also runs and leads the Buckeyes. Not a great offensive player, but is capable when necessary.
6. Terrence Jones, Kentucky: He's an enigma, but T-Jones has stepped it up and played with more intensity the latter half of the season. Still needs to learn how to play hard all the time.
7. Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas: Got out of the gate slowly and dealt with a knee injury, but he's fearless and has played as well as any point guard in the country over the second half of the season.
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8. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State: Was born to score. Thomas can put it in the basket in just about every manner. Will never be considered a great defender, but he's no longer a liability on that end of the floor.
9. Doron Lamb, Kentucky: The Wildcats' top perimeter shooter. He plays hard, hasn't made waves despite all the freshman accolades -- and can also guard.
11. William Buford, Ohio State: He has played in the shadow of guys like Evan Turner and Sullinger through his career. Buford is a scoring wing, but has struggled shooting the ball in the NCAA tournament.
12. Marquis Teague, Kentucky: Struggled out of the gate while learning how to balance running the team and getting his own. Teague is fast and has clearly improved his floor game.
13. Gorgui Dieng, Louisville: He's raw, but has come a long way since arriving at Louisville. He's a shot-blocker who plays with energy and also gets after it on the glass.
14. Peyton Siva, Louisville: The point guard struggled early in the year, but is healthy now -- and thriving. He's not a great perimeter shooter, but can get into the lane and make things happen for himself and his teammates.
15. Darius Miller, Kentucky: Underrated. He's the lone senior and has accepted his role coming off the bench as a sixth man. Can shoot it from deep and also is a difficult matchup due to his ability to post up smaller defenders.
16. Jeff Withey, Kansas: Transferred after one semester at Arizona, has battled injuries at Kansas -- and has finally gotten his shot this season. He's long, can block shots and gives the Jayhawks a presence to go alongside T-Rob.
17. Kyle Kuric, Louisville: A former walk-on, Kuric is the team's most reliable perimeter shooter. He loves the corner 3. Is limited, but gets the most out of his ability.
18. Russ Smith, Louisville: Some games he looks like a star. Others he is terrible. He can shoot Louisville in the game -- or shoot the Cards right out of it.
19. Elijah Johnson, Kansas: Was a highly regarded kid coming out of high school in Las Vegas, but hasn't been able to establish any consistency while in Lawrence. He's physically gifted and extremely athletic.
20. Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky: May be the only player in Kentucky's rotation that returns next season. Exceptionally skilled, just not overly athletic. Can make 3s and also has an array of low-post moves.
21. Lenzelle Smith Jr., Ohio State: He's the Buckeyes' fifth, somewhat-anonymous starter. He's not a big-time offensive threat, but he has had a few big games -- including in the win over Syracuse. However, Smith is a role guy whose strength is on the defensive end right now.
22. Chris Smith, Louisville: He was a decent player at Manhattan, but J.R.'s little brother has thrived under Pitino. He's athletic, can shoot it and can also guard.
23. Travis Releford, Kansas: He's a solid piece at Kansas. Won't blow you away, but fills a role for Bill Self.
24. Wayne Blackshear, Louisville: Extremely talented, but missed most of the year because shoulder injuries. Had he been healthy, he would be in the top 15 of this list.
25. Jared Swopshire, Louisville: Veteran with length who has come on lately and made some big plays. Can step out and make shots from the perimeter.
26. Conner Teahan, Kansas: Just as Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed were valuable role guys, Teahan has found a way to do the same.
27. Sam Thompson, Ohio State: Hasn't played much this season, but is a big-time athlete who will see his role increase dramatically next season with Buford's departure.
28. Kevin Young, Kansas: Athletic transfer from Loyola Marymount who has shown glimpses.
29. Evan Ravenel, Ohio State: Never thought he would play a meaningful minute after transferring from Boston College, where he was just a role guy. However, he has been capable as Sullinger's primary backup.
30. Shannon Scott, Ohio State: Freshman who comes off the bench and often allows Craft to play off the ball.