|Norlander sees Calipari as the don of college hoops right now. He's running the show; he's running his team. (US Presswire)|
Matt Norlander's Dream Team:
G - Isaiah Canaan (Murray State): Simply love his game. Toughness, reliability, maturity, good scorer. Senior. Most importantly: talent that transcends his conference. When a guy like Canaan can break through and be a national player of the year candidate, you know he’s the genuine article.
|Other Dream Teams|
G - Aaron Craft ( State" data-canon="Ohio Bobcats" data-type="SPORTS_OBJECT_TEAM" id="shortcode0">): Could be the best perimeter defender in the nation. Craft is Prototypical Loveable Scrappy College Basketball Player. Plus, he’s more of a 1 than Canaan, but I like knowing either in my starting backcourt is capable of running the show. It now also occurs to me I will be starting three white guys on my team, which means this is the best Big Ten team of all-time.
F - Doug McDermott (Creighton): As efficient a player as college basketball should have in the year ahead. Versatile. I kind of hope he’ll have the year’s most unexpected facial of a slam, though. I will sling golf balls at the kneecaps of all who make Adam Morrison comparisons in the next six months. We’ve gone three years without doing it, people. Don’t go there.
F - Cody Zeller (Indiana) - What’s that Parrish said above? “Zeller is the nation's best player. Dumb to not select him.” Yeah, that. Anyone dissenting against Zeller as a top-three player entering this season might as well wear a sandwich board that says “PAY ATTENTION TO ME.”
C - Nerlens Noel (Kentucky) - Granted he was playing AAU summer ball when I saw him live, but I’ve never been so impressed by a young, intimidating defender before in my life. I also love going counterculture and stacking a big line instead of being guard-oriented. But they say, “It’s how to win in college basketball!” No, you win in college basketball most of the time by having the better players, especially if those players are taller than 6-9. Noel and Zeller sharing floor space is frightening.
Top three reserves
G - Phil Pressey (Missouri) - Such a great true point guard. When Pressey is on the floor, one out of every three Missouri baskets is scored thanks to an assist from him. That’s just cool basketball. I think Missouri’s Final Four-bound this year. If Pressey wasn’t on the team I’d have a hard time thinking they’d be better than Sweet 16-level.
G - Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State) - I want a true guard, a wing and a big man for my reserves. Wing-wise in this spot, I’m going with Franklin, who can score and rebound in a way that makes him one of the best in the country at doing both. Lotta players can score. Number of guys can rebound. Few can put up 20 and 8 like Franklin, which is what I expect him to do in 2012-13.
G - Gorgui Dieng (Louisville) - Coachable improving big man with a robot-like instinct to swat away uncertain shots. Dieng has big-time hops, too. In what essentially would be the eighth spot on my roster, it’s OK to have a plug-in guy, a specialist. Dieng is that, but at the highest level.
Two non-power league players
F - Mike Moser (UNLV) - In love with his game; think he will help carry UNLV to the Final Four this year. Moser is a landlord in the paint despite not being ridiculously big or strong. Just has good instincts, grabs more than 10 boards per game -- and doesn’t get into foul trouble often.
F - Nate Wolters (South Dakota State) - I’d love to one day shake the hand of the person who discovered and trumpeted Wolters as a college stud. I go with him here as feeble means of payback to my colleagues who refused to acknowledge the Jackrabbits senior as a top-50 player of impact this season. They’ll be wrong, but it’s OK. Wolters is on the verge of having as irreplaceable a season as any in college hoops. He’s 6-4 but plays bigger than that. Could easily average 23/6/6 with another two steals per game, to boot. Also, I’ve added another white guy. What is going on with this team, people.
Two true "bench players"
F - Reggie Bullock (North Carolina) - He came off the bench last year. Will he again this year? Should he? I think so. Bullock is the definition of offensive sparkplug. He’s a great shooter from deep, and that’s what you want from a true bench guy. Get in there, don’t mess it up, and hit a few targets for us.
F - Grant Jerrett (Arizona) - I swear Goodman isn’t threatening me, thus forcing me to give Arizona more representation on this list. Nope. I totally made this choice all on my own, not because I was browbeaten with the prospect of losing inclusion to this feature. Loooove me some Grant Jerrett.
F - Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA) - I don’t know how many games he’ll have to miss this upcoming season. Could it be 10? Fifteen? So why not just have him sit out, get better in practice, then have him available for 2012-13, where he’ll most likely be the best or second-best player in the game.
John Calipari (Kentucky) - I’d like to win the summer as much as the winter, thank you. Until further notice, he is the Omar of college basketball.
Russell Springman (Texas) - One of the smartest assistants in the game, and it’s paired with a sense of integrity that’s almost unmatched by his peers.
Chris Harriman (Nebraska) - College basketball is expanding beyond American borders. If you think the international talent influx is potent now, just wait until 2020. Few guys have the international networking and contacts like Harriman. He’s the long-term valuable hire, the guy who finds the gem buried under 20 feet of mud.
Yanni Hufnagel (Harvard) - You heard of that Blake Griffin guy? He did that at Oklahoma. You know how Harvard’s relevant for the first time in the history of college basketball’s universe? Hufnagel’s helped build that. Considered one of the most relentless and energetic recruiters in the game.
Recruits to target
Andrew Wiggins - Similar to Zeller in the no-brainer choice. Wiggins is an insane athlete. I can’t imagine how good he’ll be by the time he’s 19. Program-changing player, unless your program is Kentucky, which speaks to Kentucky.
Jabari Parker - When you’ve got a five-star talent with as much good going for him upstairs as Parker, it’s hard to say no.
James Young - Left-handed, crafty forward with a good sense of where he wants to play and who he wants to play with.
Aaron Gordon - Second-freakiest uncommitted player out there to Wiggins.