This is going to be a disaster, I know. Like a Horatio Sanz skit on Saturday Night Live, like a Tiger Woods-led Ryder Cup attempt, like splitting eights against a dealer's two, there's no way this will turn out well. I'm aware going in. I was warned by my predecessor. Five times.
Still, it must be done.
|Point guards||Oct. 2|
|Shooting guards||Oct. 3|
|Small forwards||Oct. 4|
|Power forwards||Oct. 5|
And that's OK.
|Jarrius Jackson plays a big role for the Red Raiders. (Getty Images)|
(Note: Just because you don't see a guy on Monday's list of point guards, that doesn't mean he won't appear on another list for another position. For example, Syracuse freshman Paul Harris isn't going to be labeled a point guard for these purposes, though I'm well aware he can play point guard and likely will play some point guard for the Orange. I might list him as a shooting guard. Or a small forward. Rest assured he'll be a top 10 something. There's no doubt about that. Just got to figure out what, and I plan to do that in the next 24 hours.)
Anyway, here we go.
Top point guards
1. Ronald Steele (Alabama): The best point guards are the ones who can get a basket when their team needs a basket but do not necessarily need to get baskets to feed their egos. You follow me? In other words, a great point guard is a guy good enough to be selfish, yet unselfish in every way. That's why Steele (14.3 points and 4.3 assists per game last season) tops this list. He's a 6-foot-3 playmaker who just might lead the Crimson Tide to the Final Four.
2. Dominic James (Marquette): This reigning Big East Freshman of the Year is the main reason Marquette surprised many in returning to the NCAA Tournament last season. He averaged 15.3 points and 5.4 assists, and his 4.5 rebound average displays a toughness not normally found in 5-11 point guards. Bottom line, James is not the second coming of Dwyane Wade, but he was similarly trusted from the day he stepped on campus. That's proof Tom Crean knows elite talent when he sees it, even if it doesn't come out of high school labeled a top 10 national prospect.
3. Taurean Green (Florida): Green was the second-leading scorer (13.3 points per game) for the national champion Gators, though he seems to understand how to defer when the big guys -- specifically Joakim Noah and Al Horford -- can benefit from matchup problems. He had eight assists and one turnover in a showdown with eventual first-round draft pick Jordan Farmar in the title game. That's good enough to get him this high on this list.
4. Sean Singletary (Virginia): Singletary last season became the first Virginia player to be named first-team All-ACC since Bryant Stith in 1992. That's a long time. That's impressive. That's why you shouldn't be surprised when this classic lead guard who can score at a high rate -- he averaged 17.7 points per game as a sophomore and put 35 on Gonzaga -- has the Cavaliers back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2001.
5. Jarrius Jackson (Texas Tech): He plays a lot (38.4 minutes), shoots a lot (152 more field goal attempts than any teammate) and scores a lot (20.5 points), too. Whenever Bob Knight breaks Dean Smith's record for career wins, rest assured Jackson will play a big role.
6. Tywon Lawson (North Carolina): Every time you put a freshman on a list like this, people are bound to send e-mails featuring the phrase "but the kid hasn't even played a game yet." Please, save the e-mail. Lawson has played lots of games, thousands of games. That he hasn't yet done so at the college level is inconsequential, and you'll see that once he's running Roy Williams' Tar Heels up and down the court in 30-point victories.
7. Acie Law (Texas A&M): When Law signed with A&M, he couldn't have realistically thought he'd be the starter on a team that would make a run at the Sweet 16. If he did, he was delusional. But now here he is, a possible Big 12 Player of the Year if the Aggies can win a league title, a goal that is reasonably reachable, Kansas' overwhelming talent not withstanding. Funny how things work out, huh?
8. Jamon Gordon (Virginia Tech): Gordon is really a combo guard, but one who is good enough with the ball to play the point, evidence being that his assist-to-turnover ratio was better than 2-to-1 last season. If he's too high on this list, so be it. I've always been a sucker for point guards hard enough to average 6.0 rebounds per game.
9. Bobby Brown (Cal State Fullerton): Brown was wise to return to college after testing the NBA waters. The payoff won't be a Final Four, but he'll probably be the Big West's Player of the Year and become Cal State Fullerton's all-time leading scorer. And that's worth an extra year of school, I think.
10. Jamar Butler (Ohio State): Lost in the signing of Mike Conley is that OSU already has a pretty good point guard in Butler. His assist-to-turnover ratio was 2.5-to-1 last season, and it should improve with every easy ally-oop thrown to Greg Oden.
|11. Kammron Taylor (Wisconsin)||6-2||Sr.||14.2||2.4||He'll play some two, but he's a one here|
|12. Derek Raivio (Gonzaga)||6-3||Sr.||11.0||2.7||More points are a must with Adam Morrison gone|
|13. Darren Collison (UCLA)||6-0||So.||5.5||2.3||Jordan Farmar wasn't irreplaceable|
|14. Jamont Gordon (Mississippi State)||6-4||So.||13.8||4.3||Turns it over too much but makes up for it with 6.8 rebounds per game|
|15. Ayinde Ubaka (California)||6-4||Sr.||14.5||3.8||Nice local product for the Bears|
|16. Carl Elliott (George Washington)||6-4||Sr.||11.5||3.9||Will dribble by you more than you dribble by him|
|17. Mustafa Shakur (Arizona)||6-3||Sr.||11.2||4.7||He'll never be what he was supposed to be, but he's still better than most|
|18. Aaron Bruce (Baylor)||6-3||Jr.||13.1||3.2||Bruce should bounce back from a sophomore slump|
|19. Russell Robinson (Kansas)||6-1||Jr.||9.3||4.6||The crazy part is that he might ultimately be the second-best PG at KU|
|20. Sherron Collins (Kansas)||5-11||Fr.||NA||NA||This is the guy who might be the best|