The college basketball season is upon us. Stunning upsets and jaw-dropping plays will fulfill a void within the NCAAB nation.
Every year, coaches and recruiters spend tireless hours trying to locate the best high school talent in the nation and convince said talent to play for their respective programs. Players such as Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon are ready to make their name known to the college basketball world.
Although the young guns are receiving a majority of the hype this year, there are returning players that have the ability to take the nation by storm.
I felt it would be appropriate to rank the top 25 college basketball players heading into the 2013-2014 season. Each player on this list is an elite talent, and someone to look out for.
Keep in mind that this list is based off what each player will do this season; draft stock was not taken into consideration.
Here are the top 25 players in college basketball right now.
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25. ISAIAH AUSTIN, Baylor â€“ Austin is extremely thin for his position. He needs to bulk up, and become a more imposing force in the paint. He can, however, block and alter shots, and he has some nice low-post footwork. Austin will need to be three or four-year player in order to be NBA ready.
24. ALEX POYTHRESS, Kentucky â€“ Poythress had a spotty season last year, but to be fair, last year’s Wildcats team was a disaster. Coming back a year older, Poythress is ready to be more of a leader and a more involved member of the offensive. Kentucky will need him to complement Randle.
23. JOE HARRIS, Virginia â€“ Harris is a great scorer, and showed he is capable of carrying a team. He returns this year with much more help, so he might be able to shoot closer to 50 percent from the field this season.
22. JOEL EMBIID, Kansas â€“ Embiid is such a skilled big that NBA scouts will be amazed at him this season. His talent, combined with the ability of Wiggins and Selden, makes the Jayhawks a serious threat this season. He has a lot of uncommon attributes for players his size, which makes him a matchup nightmare for other forwards and centers in the BIG-12.
21. SPENCER DINWIDDIE, Colorado â€“ Dinwiddie is on his way to the NBA; it is really up to him if he wants to play out the rest of his college career. He has great guard abilities that will translate well to the next level. His relentless style of attacking the basket will make him a force in the Pac-12 this year.
20. CLEANTHONY EARLY, Wichita State â€“ Early was not a household name until Wichita State’s Final Four appearance. He was great all season, and he will continue to produce in his senior season. An All-American selection is in his grasp.
19. SEMAJ CHRISTON, Xavier â€“ No snubbing the soon-to-be pro, Semaj Christon is NBA-ready. He averaged 15.2 points last year. Expect that to stay relatively the same, but look for his field goal percentage to slightly increase.
18. SHABAZZ NAPIER, UConn â€“ Napier or Semaj Christon could be placed here. The reason Napier gets the nod on the list is that UConn is looking to rebound this season from a postseason ban, and Napier is going to lead the offense all the way.
17. GLENN ROBINSON III, Michigan â€“ It was in Robinson’s best interest to return to Michigan for another year. He gives the Wolverines a chance to make another National Championship appearance. He has a great frame, which he will use to create offense for himself in a variety of situations. Oh, don’t forget he has a silky smooth shooting stroke, too.
16. MONTREZL HARRELLLouisville â€“ With the suspension of Chane Behanan, Montrezl Harrell is primed to have a breakout season for Rick Pitino‘s Cardinals. Harrell is one of the toughest and physically imposing players in the nation this year. Combine that with solid rebounding ability and athleticism, and Harrell will be ready to shine.
15. ADREIAN PAYNE, Michigan State â€“ One of the best athletes on this list, Payne is ready to be one of the best forwards in his conference this season. It is reported that he increased his vertical leap, and is in much better shape. Coaches will have to gameplan around his ability; he plays with an endless motor on both ends of the floor.
14. C.J. FAIR, Syracuse â€“ Fair is an under-the-radar talent. He can score in a multitude of ways. Syracuse’s frontcourt will gives their opponents problems this season, and Fair will be at the head of it all.
13. WILLIE CAULEY-STEIN, Kentucky â€“ Cauley-Stein has pure talent at the PF/C spot. He spent most of his time as a reserve last season, but he is bringing a fluid skill-set to Kentucky’s frontcourt this year. Cauley-Stein might leave after this season, so enjoy him while you can.
12. RODNEY HOOD, Duke â€“ Hood has an unlimited amount of ability. He will be great at the forward spot for the Blue Devils this year. It will be interesting to see how he responds from his Achilles injury.
11. ANDREW HARRISON, Kentucky â€“ Kentucky is going to be good this season, largely due to Andrew Harrison’s contributions in the backcourt. His bigger frame will allow him to stymie other guards. Harrison will also be a force attacking the basket — it is what he has been doing since high school, and standing 6-5 and weighing 212 pounds, it will hard to slow him down.
10. GARY HARRIS, Michigan State â€“ Harris is an early favorite for Big Ten Player of the Year, but he will need to stay healthy. He will be called upon heavily this season because Michigan State will need a go-to player.
9. AARON GORDON, Arizona â€“ Aaron is an ultra-talented forward with guard ability. He is by no means a finished project, but he will put up big numbers for Sean Miller this season. His performance in the U19 World Championships garnered a lot of attention, and rightfully so. Gordon averaged 16.2 points and was awarded MVP honors. Look for him to carry the Wildcats this season.
8. JAHII CARSON, Arizona State â€“ Carson is an explosive scorer that can create easy offense for his teammates. He comes into this season ranked behind Marcus Smart, but it is certainly possible for Carson to increase his value this season. Look for his stats to have a significant increase as well.
7. AARON CRAFT, Ohio State â€“ Craft is the best defensive guard in the nation. He is also a great leader. Craft will need to take on an increased role offensively, but there is no reason to believe he won’t. He is just that type of player.
6. JABARI PARKER, Duke â€“ Parker was dubbed “The Best Since LeBron.” Andrew Wiggins has since taken the title and ran away with it. This is not a knock against Parker by any means. Parker will find success on the college level, too. He is a natural with a fluid game. He can do a little bit of everything; expect him to put up big numbers for the Blue Devils.
5. DOUG McDERMOTT, Creighton â€“ With the departure of Erick Green from the college scene, Doug McDermott is the best scorer in the NCAA. Staying four years has given him the chance to fine-tune his game. He is now ready to take Creighton to new heights in his senior season.
4. JULIUS RANDLE, Kentucky â€“ Randle’s profile has not been pumped up like Wiggins or Jabari Parker, but he is ready to dominate on the college level. Randle has a LeBron James-esque frame and athletic ability. Once he improves his defensive ability, nothing will stop him. Randle is ready to dominate.
3. RUSS SMITH, Louisville â€“ Smith was the man behind Louisville’s success last season. I was surprised to hear that he would be returning for his senior season, but his presence on the court gives the Cardinals a legitimate chance to repeat as national champions.
2. MARCUS SMART, Oklahoma State â€“ Smart decided to come back to Oklahoma State for his sophomore year and make a run at the national championship. Smart is another year older, which means he is coming back as a leader and a player that is much improved. Look for his averages to increase across the board this year.
1. ANDREW WIGGINS, Kansas â€“ While he may start slowly before really picking up steam, Wiggins has already cemented his place as the top player in the nation, and he has not played a regular season game yet. He is expected to have a great year, and lead Kansas to the national title. It is almost a guarantee that Wiggins will leave Kansas after this season, so enjoy him while you can.
What do you think?
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