Top 50 wings


UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad will be the best wing this year if the NCAA says OK (US Presswire)  
UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad will be the best wing this year if the NCAA says OK (US Presswire)  

Wings are always the most exciting players to track during their college years. The best ones have tons of NBA potential, as many combine length and athleticism with the ability to consistently create their own shot. Moreover, with the depth at point guard this year, these players will be able to do what they do best: score. Although some have masqueraded as ball-handlers or inside players in the past, that shouldn’t be the case this season.

One thing to keep in mind at the wing position, though. "Potential" is always the buzzword when it comes to several of these prospects. A player like Adonis Thomas might not put up the numbers to rank No. 10 at his position, but he is supremely talented and better than most players he will go up against. Branden Dawson, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Blackshear, Ben McLemore -- all of these players are getting the benefit of the doubt because of talent.

The rankings are a little top-heavy this season, but plenty of guys from the bottom of the list could easily make a jump. Sam Dekker was a five-star recruit; LaQuinton Ross could be a first-round pick; Jabari Brown was a top-10 prospect two years ago. It should be fun to see what this list looks like come March, or even midseason. Someone will surprise.

But here’s how the foursome ranks the best wings in the country. Dive in. -- Jeff Borzello

2012 Preseason Top 50 wings
1. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
If Muhammad is cleared to play, he will give UCLA one of the better scorers in the country. The lefty is a menace in transition, can score off the dribble, knocks down perimeter shots, and loves to take big shots. -- Jeff Borzello
2. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Thomas was arguably Ohio State's best player down the stretch last season. He should post big numbers and could lead the Big Ten in scoring. -- Gary Parrish
3. Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State
He virtually came out of nowhere a year ago to win Mountain West Player of the Year honors. He should be even better this season since he'll likely move to his natural position on the wing. - Jeff Goodman
4. Michael Snaer, Florida State
He can go get you 20 points and also lock down the best opposing scorer. Snaer is vastly underrated because of his all-around game. He can shoot it (and make huge shots), gets to the basket and also has the ability and desire to lock people down. -- J.G.
5, Otto Porter, Georgetown
His numbers don't jump out at you, but Porter is an ultra-efficient player who makes the most of his opportunities. He's versatile and perfect for the Hoyas' offense. With more minutes this season, Porter could take a major leap in production. -- J.B.
6. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
The combo guard who passed up being drafted to come back for one more year. Terrific scorer, maybe the second-best natural bucket-filler on this list to Deshaun Thomas. -- Matt Norlander
7. Le'Bryan Nash, Oklahoma State
Nash had a good but not great freshman year. Still, his talent is undeniable, and he should benefit from the presence of Marcus Smart. -- G.P.
8. Ben McLemore, Kansas
He sat out last season as a partial qualifier, but Bill Self is expecting a significant impact from the athletic wing. He has an improved jumper, but his biggest asset is his ability to get to the basket and finish. -- J.G.
9. BJ Young, Arkansas
One of the more consistent freshmen in the country last season, Young is a dangerous scorer. He can make shots from the perimeter, but is also a slasher who can score at the rim. Aggressive on the defensive end because of his length. -- J.B.
10. Adonis Thomas, Memphis
The former McDonald's All-American missed much of last season with a foot injury that might be the only reason he's back in college. Either way, the winner is Josh Pastner. Thomas projects as the best player on a nice roster that should advance in March. -- G.P.
11. Archie Goodwin. Kentucky
Someone is going to have to become the go-to perimeter scorer for Kentucky. Goodwin is very difficult to stop going to the basket, and his athleticism makes him a consistent finisher. Expect open shots behind the arc, too. -- J.B.
12. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
Hardaway will need a bounce-back season this year if Michigan is going to make a deep run in March. He needs to utilize better shot-selection, which will make him much more efficient from the floor. Impressive skill-set, though. -- J.B.
13. Branden Dawson, Michigan State
His rehab from ACL surgery has reportedly gone well. Dawson could be among the reasons Tom Izzo makes yet another Final Four. -- G.P.
14. Rodney McGruder, Kansas State
McGruder has gotten better every year in pretty much every way. He's a nice piece for Bruce Weber to inherit. -- G.P.
15. Kenny Boynton, Florida
Boynton isn't the same player who once secured a reputation as a volume shooter who missed too many shots. He's now more efficient, better and probably not appreciated enough. -- G.P.
16. Allen Crabbe, California
Great jump shooter, and especially good from deep, as he hit more than 40 percent of his 3s last year. A perfect small forward at the college level, Crabbe has potential to break out big this season, but will he do it by showing he can score closer to the rim? -- M.N.
17. Wayne Blackshear, Louisville
If healthy, Blackshear could become a go-to-guy for Rick Pitino this season. He is a very solid mid-range scorer that creates matchup problems because of his strength. Tough finisher at the rim as well. -- J.B.
18. Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Bullock is the leading returning scorer for a North Carolina team that lost a lot -- Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Kendall Marshall -- but still has enough to win another ACC title. -- G.P.
19. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
One of my favorite players in college basketball. Kilpatrick is a junior shooting guard who found prosperity no matter the team or scheme he went up against last season. I think he winds up as a Big East First-Teamer in 2013. -- M.N.
20. Khalif Wyatt, Temple
Wyatt is a minutes-eater and effective scorer. Barring injury, a lock for A-10 First Team. -- M.N.
21. Solomon Hill, Arizona
Able to play his natural position of small forward, Hill's all-around talents will be better-utilized this season. He averaged nearly 13 points and eight boards last season, and has worked on his outside shooting. Has more help up front now, too. -- J.B.
22. Gary Harris, Michigan State
Harris has a great shot to start immediately at the two-guard position for Tom Izzo -- and the Spartans need a go-to scorer on the perimeter. Harris scores in different ways, but is also a dynamite defender due to his length. -- J.B.
23. DeAndre Kane, Marshall
Kane is C-USA's best player not wearing a Memphis uniform. If Memphis doesn't win the league title, he'll be the reason. -- G.P.
24. Brandon Paul, Illinois
Somebody tweeted at me recently that Paul will be the Big Ten Player of the Year. I highly doubt that's true, but he is an NBA talent who should score a bunch. -- G.P.
25. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia
The former McDonald's All-American wasn't consistently good last season, but he showed signs. Mark Fox needs him to be an All-SEC player this season. -- G.P.
26. Victor Oladipo, Indiana
I maintain the best is yet to come with Oladipo, who is the most athletic player IU has, even with the stud incoming set of freshmen. He's one of the great change-of-pace guys in college hoops, and the closer to the rim he gets the more comfortable he finds himself. -- M.N.
27. Tony Snell, New Mexico
He's long, athletic and can really shoot. However, it's time that the 6-foot-7 California native put it all together. He needs to be more assertive and also more adept at putting the ball on the floor, but Snell has a world of potential. -- J.G.
28. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke
The Blue Devils needed some help defending the perimeter last season, and Sulaimon provides someone who can guard opponent's top wing scorers. Plus, he's an outstanding scorer who will knock down shots from the arc. -- J.B.
29. Rodney Williams, Minnesota
Williams finished last season on a tear, and could carry that momentum over to this year. Moreover, he has Trevor Mbakwe back from injury to take away the defense's attention. Averaged 19.3 points in his last six games. -- J.B.
30. Damion Lee, Drexel
Could well be the best player in the CAA as a sophomore. He's long, skilled and has tremendous upside. Averaged a dozen a game as a frosh for Bruiser Flint a year ago. -- J.G.
31. J.T. Terrell, USC
Few remember him from his season at Wake, but Terrell is a different player. He's no longer a one-dimensional shooter. Now he can score it in a multitude of ways -- and the Trojans will need him to do that this season. -- J.G.
32. Seth Curry, Duke
This Curry is not as good as that other Curry (or as good as his father), but he's still a nice college player. He'll need to be really good for Duke to avoid a down year because the roster in Durham isn't all that impressive on the surface. -- G.P.
33. Rodney Purvis, N.C. State
Can really, really score. Needs to learn how to play in a system, but if he figures that out, could well be Mark Gottfried's leading scorer down the stretch. Can get his own shot off whenever necessary. -- J.G.
34. Durand Scott, Miami
Solid pick-and-roll player who needs to improve his mid-range shooting ability. If he rounds out his game, he's a top-25 wing in hoops by year's end. Defensively there is also room to grow. -- M.N.
35. James Ennis, Long Beach State
Few are aware of Ennis outside of the Big West, but he'll break out with the departure of four 49ers seniors. He's long and skilled. He can shoot it, handle it and also get to the hoop. NBA scouts are well-aware of Ennis already. -- J.G.
36. Colt Ryan, Evansville
Ryan is one of the most productive all-around guards in the country, but he doesn't get the proper respect playing for the Aces. Put up over 20 points per game, and continues to add more wrinkles to his game. Excellent shooter from all three levels. -- J.B.
37. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin
He’d be higher on the list if we thought he’d get more playing time, but Bo Ryan usually has guys wait their turn. Dekker is a stud who does everything -- shoots it, gets to the basket and also defends. Will be a star; it’s just a matter of when. -- J.G.
38. Will Sheehey, Indiana
He was one of best sixth men in the country last year. Sheehey is a perfect fit for Tom Crean's system. He's also a great leaper and solid catch-and-shoot small forward. -- M.N.
39. LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State
Long and talented. The question with Ross is whether his production can begin to catch up to his potential. He missed the first part of his freshman campaign, but now the Buckeyes need him. -- J.G.
40. Bryce Jones, UNLV
He broke his hand in the preseason, but as long as he comes back healthy, he'll be a key piece to the Runnin' Rebels success. Jones, a USC transfer, has the size and scoring ability to average double-figures on a loaded team. -- J.G.
41. Cleveland Melvin, DePaul
College hoops' biggest secret? Melvin's doing damage for a team that gets dumptrucked on the normal. Melvin takes a lot of his team's shots, because he has to, but he's also a great interior presence and is a good shotblocker despite being 6-8. -- M.N.
42. Shelden McClellan, Texas
Playing second fiddle to, um, shot-happy J'Covan Brown last season, McClellan still managed to average in double-figures. He is a solid shooter and is a good slasher from the wing. He needs to become comfortable with a bigger role, though. -- J.B.
43. Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso
My pick to win Player of the Year in the Horizon this season. Broekhoff, a 6-7 Australian, will likely lead Valpo in scoring, boards, blocks and 3-point shooting. -- M.N.
44. Glenn "Tre" Robinson, Michigan
Teammate Mitch McGary received more attention during the recruiting process, but Robinson should make the bigger impact. He has very good athleticism and is an aggressive offensive player in a half-court setting. -- J.B.
45. Trent Lockett, Marquette
The Arizona State transfer can do damage in the Big East. Lockett can do the three major things well, and consistently. He can score, he can rebound, he can pass. -- M.N.
46. C.J. Wilcox, Washington
With Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross gone, it's Wilcox's turn to shine. He possesses the size and long-range shot to make certain the Huskies stay relevant nationally. -- J.G.
47. Ryan Evans, Wisconsin
Evans is the leading returning scorer on a Wisconsin team that figures to compete near the top of the Big Ten again. What he lacks in shooting he makes up for in rebounding -- G.P.
48. Jabari Brown, Missouri
Will miss the first part of the season after transferring from Oregon, but should make an immediate impact. Will provide Frank Haith and the Tigers with a big-time shooter who has the natural ability to become a relentless scorer. -- J.G.
49. Isaiah Sykes, Central Florida
Keith Clanton gets most of the attention, but Sykes is deserving of plenty as well. He's long and versatile, and if he can improve his perimeter shot he can be a star. Can handle, defend and score enough. -- J.G.
50. Drew Crawford, Northwestern
Better in the half-court than on the run, Crawford will need to be the alpha this year for the Wildcats now that college basketball's quirkiest shooter, John Shurna, has graduated. -- M.N.

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