The 2015-16 college basketball season kick-starts on November 13th, and there will be a ton of talent on display over the course of the season. There are talented players scattered all over the college basketball landscape, which makes the game that much more exciting.
One area that teams always like to focus on is the small forward position. Teams are constantly looking for talented swing players who can line up as a guard or a forward, and have an adaptive skill set that will allow for them to excel at various positions.
The upcoming season is filled with talented small forwards all across the country, and it’s tough to keep track of them all. Not to worry, we have you covered with the top five small forwards in the country.
Scroll down below to see who cracks the top five list!
5. Damion Lee – Louisville Cardinals
Damion Lee was one of the most coveted players on the transfer market following the 2014-15 season, and the Louisville Cardinals were able to land his services. The former Drexel star averaged 21.4 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Dragons last season, and will be looked upon to be a top offensive threat for the Cardinals this season. With the departure of Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier, Lee can step in and contribute right away. He’s not the most consistent three point shooter in the land, but with Rick Pitino’s offensive system that likes to shoot the long ball, he will still get plenty of looks. Don’t expect him to match the offensive output that he put out last year, but Lee will still be an impact player for Louisville this season.
4. Wayne Selden – Kansas Jayhawks
Wayne Selden wouldn’t be on the radar if we based this list off of his 9.4 points and 2.8 assists per game from his sophomore season last year. He lined up as a shooting guard for Bill Self, and never found his groove in his first two seasons with the Jayhawks. This season, the Jayhawks are expected to move Selden to the 3-spot, freeing up the back court for Frank Mason and Devonte Graham. This summer, Selden showed everyone what he is capable of when he took part in the World University Games, helping lead Kansas to the gold medal. He comes in at 6’5” and 230-pounds, giving him the size and the skill set to take his game to another level at his new position.
3. Brandon Ingram – Duke Blue Devils
Duke is setting out to repeat as NCAA champion this season, and Brandon Ingram will be one of the top offensive threats for the Blue Devils this season. As a senior in high school, he averaged 24.3 points and 10.4 rebounds per contest. Even with the addition of Derryck Thornton at point guard for Duke this season, Ingram may be the team’s best option for facilitating the offense and finding his teammates. He’s one of many capable offensive threats for the team, and he will be a big piece of the puzzle moving forwards. If he can add some size to his frame (6’6”. 190 pounds) he could easily climb to the top of this list by season’s end.
2. Jamal Murray – Kentucky Wildcats
The commitment of Jamal Murray to Kentucky could be the most important recruit of the 2015 class for John Calipari (sorry, Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe). Murray suited up for Team Canada at the Pan American Games and casually averaged 16.0 points and 2.4 assists per game against top-tier opponents. Murray can line up at all three guard spots, and will see a lot of time at small forward when Kentucky deploys a three-guard system. Murray is used to having the ball in his hands and facilitating the offense. His ability to adapt to playing off the ball will be a big factor in his success or failure over the course of the year. With his ascent to the top without having played a collegiate game, Murray is a star in the making.
1. Denzel Valentine – Michigan State Spartans
Denzel Valentine is the senior leader of the Michigan State Spartans this season, and the team as a whole could be even better than last year’s team that made the Final Four as a 7-seed. Valentine is a do-it-all player for the Spartans, averaging 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per contest. Down the stretch, he flirted with a few triple-doubles, and he recorded one in his the Spartans’ first exhibition game this year against Northern Michigan (14 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists). This season, Valentine will need to work on being a more consistent scorer on offense. He’s at his best when he has the ball in his hands, whether it be scoring himself or finding his teammates. He’s the Spartans’ best player this season, and if he can take on a bigger role this season, he will be the best small forward in the country.