2012-13 College Basketball Previews

CBSSports.com College Basketball Staff


Everyone wants to put the ball in the basket these days. Well, just about everyone. There are still guys who take pride in defense, whether it's locking down on the perimeter, dominating on the glass or protecting the rim as a shot-blocker. It's an area that often gets overlooked, but defense is just as important as scoring.

After talking to coaches, NBA guys and also watching plenty of tape on Synergy over the last month or so, here are 30 guys who are among the elite defensive players in the country. A kid who doesn't look the part from Ohio State tops the list for the seconds straight year while two long and athletic freshmen from Lexington make their debuts.

We broke them down into categories: Perimeter defenders, versatile defenders, glass cleaners and rim protectors.

Players listed alphabetically

2012 Preseason
Best Perimeter Defenders
Chris Babb
SG | 6-5 | SR | Iowa State

"He is best at chasing screens and guarding perimeter guys in the Big 12. He locked down most of the guys in the league last season."

Will Cherry
SG | 6-1 | SR | Montana

"He seems to take it personal if he gets scored on and understands how important his efforts are in setting the tone for the rest of the team defensively."

Aaron Craft
PG | 6-2 | JR | Ohio State

"He's the best defender in college basketball. He understands how much of an impact he causes on the defensive end, in making plays, and he takes pride in it. He disrupts the opponents offense in every way and raises all of his teammates level of play. He's the honey badger of college basketball."

Fuquan Edwin
G/F | 6-6 | JR | Seton Hall

"His hands are lethal -- and his ability to read the passing lanes is uncanny. That's a scary combination."

Jontel Evans
G | 5-11 | SR | Virginia

"He's a quick and powerful athlete. He was a running back in high school, and his speed and tough mentality combine to make him a hard-nose on-ball defender."

Trae Golden
PG | 6-2 | JR | Tennessee

"He's very competitive and has great size as a point. Physically, he's just as strong as most frontline guys. He understands how to use that to his advantage."

Jordair Jett
G | 6-1 | JR | Saint Louis

"Has the mentality to the challenge. Has a great body to take on screens, is built like an NFL cornerback and has great instincts and a high IQ."

Anthony Marshall
PG | 6-3 | SR | UNLV

"He has a great combination of speed, length and strength that helps him be a lock-down defender. He also has a high basketball IQ and great anticipation. He's also a great rebounder for his position and seems to take every defensive possession personal."

C.J McCollum
SG | 6-3 | SR | Lehigh

"His length and anticipation make him a dangerous defender. He has led the league in steals and also rebounds extremely well for a guard."

Rodney McGruder
SG | 6-4 | SR | Kansas State

"His instincts to get his hands on so many 50-50 balls make him a great defender. He also has perfect defensive technique."

Victor Oladipo
SG | 6-5 | JR | Indiana

"Has great energy and explosiveness. When he wants to, he can be one of the best lock-down guys in the nation."

Kenneth Ortiz
G | 6-0 | JR | Wagner

"He's a rugged, hard-nosed on-ball defender - maybe as good of an on-ball defender as there is in the entire country. Physically strong and compact. Great instincts."

Michael Snaer
SG | 6-5 | SR | Florida State

"He is an ultra-competitor and has perfectionist tendencies. Combine those internal drives with extremely good lateral movement and quickness and he makes life difficult on a ball handler."

Derrick Thomas
G | 6-4 | SR | Drexel

"He has the strength and toughness to guard a bigger perimeter player and the quickness and athleticism to defend smaller, quicker guards."

Briante Weber
G | 6-2 | SOPH | VCU

"He has relentless energy, great quickness and king arms. He is very disruptive guarding the ball in the full court. It's his identity."

Best Versatile Defenders
Dane Miller
F | 6-6 | SR | Rutgers

"His length and athleticism allow him to guard several positions. He's also finished in the top of the Big East in blocks."

Greg Whittington
F | 6-6 | SR | Georgetown

"He's got great anticipation and can almost be in two places at once. He's got length and the ability to move his feet and that allows him to be able to defend multiple positions."

Best Glass Cleaning Defenders
O.D. Anosike
PF | 6-8 | SR | Siena

"He's long and also powerful. He has great hands and goes after everything that come off the glass. There's a reason he led the nation in rebounding last year."

Tony Mitchell
PF | 6-8 | SOPH | North Texas

"He plays so hard, is ultra-athletic and blocks and alters shots. He's also one of the better rebounders in the country."

Andre Roberson
F | 6-7 | JR | Colorado

"He is long, an elite athlete, and is wiry strong. However, what sets him apart is his ability to anticipate where the ball is going. Whether it's a passing land or knowing where the rebound if coming off the rim, he has a nose for the ball."

Best Rim Protecting Defenders
C.J. Aiken
C | 6-9 | JR | Saint Joseph's

"He's got great timing and plays with no ego. When you are talking about the nation's top shot-blockers, he's got to be on the list."

Jarred berggren
PF | 6-10 | SR | Wisconsin

"He's more athletic and quicker off the floor than he looks. He's got good timing off the floor and led the Big Ten in blocks last season."

Willie Cauley-Stein
C | 7-0 | FR | Kentucky

"He's long, athletic and can block shots and also guard on the perimeter. He's also got an element of toughness to his game. The kid played football. He's got to be tough. In two years, I think he can be the premier post defender in the country."

Rakeem Christmas
PF/C | 6-9 | SOPH | Syracuse

"His defensive IQ is high and he sees things before they develop. He is an elite athlete who covers space as well as anyone in the country."

Gorgui Dieng
C | 6-11 | JR | Louisville

"He is in the perfect defensive system for a guy like him -- who has great timing on shot-blocking. Their press as well as their matchup zone funnels everything to him -- and he's always in position to protect the basket."

Jamelle Hagins
PF | 6-9 | SR | Delaware

"He possesses great length, basketball instincts and timing -- which make him a tremendous shot-blocker and a vacuum on the glass."

Zeke Marshall
C | 7-0 | SR | Akron

"He has tremendous lateral quickness, great length and terrific timing. He's one of the elite shot-blockers in the country."

Aziz N'Diaye
C | 7-0 | JR | Washington

"Has great size and is extremely agile. His presence inside compliments Washington's defensive pressure and allows then to play a 2-3 zone with success when they choose. He rebounds, blocks shots and clogs up the lane."

Nerlens Noel
C | 6-10 | FR | Kentucky

"He's a freak. The best shot-blocker I have ever seen in high school. I'm not sure how much he'll score, but that doesn't matter. He'll immediately be one of the most important and intimidating defensive players in the nation because of his length, athleticism and timing."

Jeff Withey
C | 7-0 | SR | Kansas

"He's more than just a shot-blocker. He's a defensive positioning guy, too. He'll block his fair share of shots, but he's going to be in the right spot and a lot of times will force bad shots."

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