The 2016-17 college basketball season is just around the corner, and the excitement is building with each passing day. More and more teams are releasing their schedules for the upcoming season, and some teams are on their preseason trips around the world.
With the current season in mind, we assembled our list of the Top 100 Players in College Basketball for the 2016-17 Season!
You’ll notice quickly that there are NO freshmen on the list. There’s one simple reason for that: they have yet to play a regular season game at the Division I level. They can’t be the best in college basketball when they haven’t yet played a game for their school.
The following 100 players are the top 100 returning players from across the country. They were evaluated on two fronts: their overall role on their respective team, and their statistical performances over their collegiate career.
Let us know your thoughts on the list, by either leaving a comment or letting us know on Twitter and Facebook!
100. Jeremy Combs – North Texas Mean Green
2015-16 Stats: 14.9 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 1.7 spg
The double-double machine for the North Texas Mean Green is the leader of a team who is poised to make a big jump in the Conference USA standings this season. Combs recorded 14 double-doubles last season, including seven straight in the month of January. Oh, and he shot 60.1% from the floor. Did we mention he’s only a junior in 2016-17?
99. Gary Clark – Cincinnati Bearcats
2015-16 Stats: 10.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.5 bpg
The defensive stalwart known as Gary Clark is back for another go-round with the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2016-17. In each of his first two seasons, Clark has averaged at least 7.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per contest. He’s proven to be effective from the floor on offense, shooting above 50% in each season. The 6’7” junior forward sits just six blocks shy of 100 for his collegiate career.
98. Ethan Telfair – Idaho State Bengals
2015-16 Stats: 20.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.4 apg, 2.4 spg
In his first season with the Bengals after transferring from Redlands C.C., Telfair put together a stellar junior campaign, leading Idaho State in points, assists, and steals per game. He helped Idaho State jump from tied for 10th in the Big Sky in 2014-15, to 4th in 2015-16, and the team made a nine-win improvement. After being a relative unknown last year, by virtue of his newcomer status, the secret’s out on Telfair this season.
97. Damon Lynn – NJIT Highlanders
2015-16 Stats: 18.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.6 spg
In the Highlanders’ first season in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Damon Lynn shined bright during his junior season. He led the team in scoring and was second on the team in assists per game, and is poised for an even bigger year in 2016-17. With the team returning a core that includes Lynn, Tim Coleman, and Abdul Lewis, Lynn is in a position to lead the Highlanders to the NCAA Tournament.
96. Anthony Livingston – Texas Tech Red Raiders
2015-16 Stats: 15.5 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 0.8 bpg (with Arkansas State)
Over his two years with the Arkansas State Red Wolves, Livingston averaged nearly a double-double per game. He put together 14 such games last season. Against higher-level competition in 2016-17, it will be interesting to see how he reacts to the change with the Red Raiders.
95. Matt Morgan – Cornell Big Red
2015-16 Stats: 18.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.4 spg
As the 2015-16 season rolled along, Matt Morgan quickly emerged as a budding star for the Big Red, and the Cornell freshman led the Ivy League in scoring at year’s end. Morgan is a strong shooter from all over the floor, and converts on over 80% of his free throw attempts. Alongside Robert Hatter and Darryl Smith, Morgan gives the Big Red one of the best guard rotations in the conference.
94. Ja’Quan Newton – Miami (FL) Hurricanes
2015-16 Stats: 10.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.5 apg
With the departure of both Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan, the Hurricanes will need someone else to step up and take on some of the scoring load. Enter Newton, who scored in double-figures in 21 games a season ago, while only averaging a shade under 23 minutes of court time per night.
93. JeQuan Lewis – VCU Rams
2015-16 Stats: 11.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.1 apg, 1.3 spg
With the departure of Melvin Johnson, the VCU Rams will be looking for someone to step up and take control on offense. While Lewis won’t be asked to lead the team in scoring, his play is just as important in 2016-17. The team leader in assists will look to get everyone involved, while scoring a bit more himself each night.
92. Manu Lecomte – Baylor Bears
2014-15 Stats: 7.9 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.8 apg (with Miami (FL))
While Lecomte didn’t put up big numbers in the loaded back court for the Hurricanes, the talent is definitely there. After sitting out last season due to transfer regulations, Lecomte will be the back court leader for the Bears in 2016-17.
91. Dequon Miller – Missouri State Bears
2015-16 Stats: 12.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 3.0 apg
Like Telfair was with Idaho State, guard Dequon Miller was a relative unknown on the national scale for the Missouri State Bears. Miller led the Bears in scoring a season ago, his first at the Division I level after transferring from Motlow (Tenn.) College. On the team’s summer trip to the Bahamas earlier this month, the Bears went a perfect 3-0, and Miller averaged 13.5 points and 6 assists in the two games he appeared in.
90. Sindarius Thornwell – South Carolina Gamecocks
2015-16 Stats: 13.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.5 spg
Sindarius Thornwell is one of the most underappreciated guards in the SEC. He’s a top-level scorer, having averaged at least 11.1 points in each of his three seasons with the Gamecocks, and isn’t afraid to battle in the paint for rebounds. With leading scorer Michael Carrera having graduated, look for Thornwell to step up and set a career-high in points per game.
89. Bryant McIntosh – Northwestern Wildcats
2015-16 Stats: 13.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 6.7 apg
What’s not to love about Bryant McIntosh? He does it all at Northwestern. He can score, he can rebound, and he is the team’s top assist man. McIntosh has All-Big Ten talent, and the 2016-17 season will be the true test for the guard, as Tre Demps and Alex Olah have both graduated and signed pro deals overseas.
88. James Daniel III – Howard Bison
2015-16 Stats: 27.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.1 spg
James Daniel II was the top scorer across the entire NCAA last season, holding a 2.1 point per game margin over the next player, who just happened to be Buddy Hield. But, he’s no one-trick pony. He can score in bunches (at least 15 points in every game he played in ’15-16), but he’s also a strong defender. If Howard can finish top-4 in the MEAC this season, Daniel could be the runaway Player of the Year.
87. Vince Edwards – Purdue Boilermakers
2015-16 Stats: 11.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.9 apg
As a sophomore in 2015-16, Edwards made big strides for the Purdue Boilermakers. He finished second on the team in scoring, and looks poised for a bigger role in 2016-17. Alongside fellow returnee Caleb Swanigan, who will see double-teams that will open up more opportunities for others, Edwards gives Head Coach Matt Painter a formidable front court tandem. Add in the addition of transfer point guard Spike Albrecht, who can create opportunities for all on the floor, and Edwards should see a rise in his production.
86. Quinton Hooker – North Dakota Fighting Hawks
2015-16 Stats: 20.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.9 spg
The reigning CCR Mid-Major Player of the Year is back for one more go-round with the Fighting Hawks. He recorded the first triple-double in school history last season, and helped lead the team to another post-season appearance. You can’t teach work ethic, and Hooker is one of the hardest workers in the country. Another big year from Hooker could lead to more individual hardware, but more importantly, a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
85. Nazareth Mitrou-Long – Iowa State Cyclones
2015-16 Stats: 12.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.9 apg
Nazareth Mitrou-Long only appeared in 8 games in 2015-16, before suffering a season-ending injury. After being granted a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA, Long is looking to make up for lost time. It will all hinge on how well his recovery has gone. If he can stay healthy in 2016-17, Long could be in for a career year.
84. T.J. Cline – Richmond Spiders
2015-16 Stats: 18.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.8 apg
While the Richmond Spiders struggled a bit as a team last season, Cline showed why he’s one of the nation’s nest players. Like Hooker, Cline is one of the hardest workers in the country, and he will outwork you on almost every possession. A player like Cline, who can score, rebound, and is willing to put in the work each time out is a dream for any coach out there.
83. Dallas Moore – North Florida Ospreys
2015-16 Stats: 19.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.0 apg
With Beau Beech moving onto the NBA, North Florida is officially Dallas Moore’s team. He led the team in both points and assists per game last season, while shooting 51.6% from the floor and 39.5% from three point range. He is an all-round player who doesn’t have to have the ball in his hands to have a positive impact on the game. His mere presence on the floor forces teams to be aware of where he is on the court, opening up opportunities for others. Even with the departures, the Ospreys look like the front-runners in the Atlantic Sun, and Moore looks poised to repeat as Atlantic Sun Player of the Year.
82. Bryce Alford – UCLA Bruins
2015-16 Stats: 16.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 5.2 apg
Despite having five players averaging double-digit points per game, the UCLA Bruins were one of the more disappointing teams in 2015-16. Senior guard Bryce Alford is back, and will be looking to flip the script in 2016-17. With a high-profile recruiting class coming to campus, Alford may not score as much as he did last year, but he will be a more effective player, making him one of the top players in the country.
81. Abdul-Malik Abu – NC State Wolfpack
2015-16 Stats: 12.9 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.3 apg
The back-and-forth off-season for Abu ultimately ended with him back in a Wolfpack uniform for the 2016-17 season, much to the delight of NC State fans everywhere. The 6’8” forward emerged as a star last season, finishing second on the team in scoring. This season, he will anchor the front court and will see plenty of opportunities due to a talented back court that includes Maverick Rowan and redshirt freshman Dennis Smith. Both will look to get Abu involved on every possession, leading to big things for the junior forward.
80. Bennie Boatwright – USC Trojans
2015-16 Stats: 11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 apg
Following the 2015-16 season, the vast majority of they key contributors for the Trojans left the program for different reasons. Guard Bennie Boatwright is back, and that is huge for USC. Boatwright has been tearing it up in the Drew League this off-season, which is a great sign for USC fans moving forwards. He will form a formidable back court tandem with Jordan McLaughlin, who will appear later in the list.
79. Przemek Karnowski – Gonzaga Bulldogs
2015-16 Stats: 7.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.0 apg
In 2015-16, big man Przemek Karnowski was limited to just six games before a season-ending back injury. He was granted a medical hardship waiver, and is ready to make up for lost time in 2016-17. With the front court losing both Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis, Karnowski will have an impact from day one this year. If healthy, don’t be surprised if Karnowski averages close to a double-double per game.
78. Johnathan Motley – Baylor Bears
2015-16 Stats: 11.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.1 bpg
In 2016-17, Johnathan Motley could be the next talented big man to come out of Baylor. Both Taurean Prince and Rico Gathers are gone from last year’s team, with Prince becoming a lottery selection in the NBA Draft while Gathers was drafted as a tight end in the NFL Draft, opening the door for Motley to shine in Waco. As the focal point of the front court rotation for the Bears, Motley will see his fair share of touches, but will also draw the eye of the top big man on opposing teams. His success will all depend on how he can handle the added pressure of being the new big man on campus.
77. QJ Peterson – VMI Keydets
2015-16 Stats: 19.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.4 spg
Ever since QJ Peterson stepped on the floor for the VMI Keydeys as a freshman, he has been one of the nation’s top scorers. Yet, he doesn’t get the attention on a national scale that he deserves. This year, expect more of the same from Peterson, as he puts up close to 20 points per contest. The 2016-17 season is where Peterson finally gets the national respect he deserves.
76. Alec Wintering – Portland Pilots
2015-16 Stats: 18.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.5 spg
One of the most underappreciated guards in the entire country is Alec Wintering. He’s averaged at least 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game in each of his first three seasons, and set a career-high with 18.3 points per game as a junior in 2015-16. He can shoot the ball well from long distance (39.8% in 15-16), and has the basketball IQ and court vision to hurt you without having to shoot. Consider Wintering a sleeper for WCC Player of the Year.
75. Tyler Roberson – Syracuse Orange
2015-16 Stats: 8.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.4 apg
With the Syracuse Orange losing some key contributors from a season ago, Tyler Roberson’s role on the team is about to change considerably. He will get more touches on offense, which will lead to more offensive production. Alongside Tyler Lydon, Roberson gives Syracuse one of the top rebounding tandems in the country.
74. Zeek Woodley – Northwestern State Demons
2015-16 Stats: 22.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.0 spg
For the second season in a row, Zeek Woodley is left to carry the torch for the Demons, as guard Jalan West will likely miss the entire 2016-17 campaign with another torn ACL. Woodley was among the nation’s leaders in scoring last season, and will be near the top of the list once again this year. He is efficient from all over the floor on offense, shooting above 53% from the floor and 40% from three point range.
73. Amile Jefferson – Duke Blue Devils
2015-16 Stats: 11.4 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.2 bpg
Amile Jefferson only played in nine games during the 2015-16 season, and received another year of eligibility from the NCAA for the 2016-17 season. Despite all the talent that the Blue Devils have coming in this season with their top-ranked recruiting class, the return of Jefferson is a huge boost for Coack K and his team. His veteran leadership will be invaluable as he helps the newcomers get accustomed to the grind of the NCAA. Plus, averaging a double-double never hurts either. While his minutes may decrease this season, expect Jefferson to be as productive as usual.
72. Tyler Davis – Texas A&M Aggies
2015-16 Stats: 11.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.1 apg
The Texas A&M Aggies lose a lot from last year’s team, but return a trio of players who are ready to step up and take the lead. The top returnee on the list is forward Tyler Davis. With guards on the back end who command attention on every possession, opportunities will open up for Davis in the paint on a regular basis. Averaging close to a double-double per game isn’t a stretch for the 6’10” sophomore.
71. Casey Jones – Chattanooga Mocs
2015-16 Stats: 12.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.1 bpg
Casey Jones was the pre-season Southern Conference Player of the Year for 2015-16 before getting injured and missing the remainder of the year after appearing in just nine games. Even without Jones, the Mocs finished the year with an impressive 29-6 record overall. With Jones back in the mix this season, the Mocs could best their record from a year ago. Jones can do it all for the Mocs, from scoring from long distance to rebounding and dishing out assists. He would have been ranked higher, but things all hinge on how well he has recovered since his injury.
70. Derrick Walton, Jr. – Michigan Wolverines
2015-16 Stats: 11.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.8 spg
During his career with the Wolverines, Walton, Jr. hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. The 2016-17 season could be different, as he is poised for a breakout campaign as a senior. With Caris LeVert moving onto the NBA, John Beilein will be looking for a new number one scoring option, and Walton, Jr. could fill that void. If he remains healthy, averaging 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists isn’t out of the equation.
69. Tim Kempton – Lehigh Mountain Hawks
2015-16 Stats: 17.7 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 1.4 apg
TIm Kempton has been a star since his first day at Lehigh. He is the two-time defending Patriot League Player of the Year, and for good reason. The son of former NBA star Tim Kempton has averaged at least 13.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game over his career, while shooting 50% or better each year. In 2016-17, Kempton will look to close out his career with a third straight Player of the Year award, and has the supporting cast to do so. If he can continue developing a three point jumper, the 6’10” forward could work his way up to an NBA Draft selection at year’s end.
68. Luke Kornet – Vanderbilt Commodores
2015-16 Stats: 8.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 3.0 bpg
You’d be hard-pressed to find a player in the NCAA poised for a bigger breakout season than Vanderbilt’s Luke Kornet. After playing behind Damian Jones, the 7’2” center is now the anchor of the front court. He can shoot three pointer with relative consistency (40% in 2014-15), and is one of the country’s premier shot blockers. He will get more minutes this season, leading to more production on both ends of the floor. As a senior, it’s Kornet’s time to shine in Nashville.
67. Corey Sanders – Rutgers Scarlet Knights
2015-16 Stats: 15.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.8 spg
The most underrated scoring guard in the Big Ten is only a sophomore in 2016-17. Corey Sanders led Rutgers in scoring last season, averaging 15.9 points per game while shooting 42.3% from the floor and 71.3% from the free throw line. If he can improve on his shooting from the line, he could push an average of 20 points per game. This season, he will have to battle double-teams, which may drop his production slightly, but he’s still a bright star for the Scarlet Knights who is only going to get better as his career progresses.
66. Carlton Bragg – Kansas Jayhawks
2015-16 Stats: 3.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.4 apg
As a freshman in 2015-16, Bragg was stuck behind senior Perry Ellis on the Jayhawks’ depth chart, and only averaged 8.9 minutes per night. Still, he was the 21st-ranked recruit in the Class of 2015, so the potential is there. With Ellis out of the equation this season, Bragg is in position for a rise in production. Yes, he has to compete with another top-tier freshman class for playing time. But, he has one thing that the freshmen do not: experience at the Division I level.
65. Josh Hawkinson – Washington State Cougars
2015-16 Stats: 15.4 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.1 bpg
Over the past two seasons at Washington State, Hawkinson has averaged a double-double per season. Last season, as a junior, he showed flashes of being able to stretch the floor with the addition of a three point jumper. Hawkinson is in a similar position to that of Tim Kempton, Jr., where if he continues to develop his jump shot, he will garner serious looks from NBA teams this year.
64. Eron Harris – Michigan State Spartans
2015-16 Stats: 9.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.1 apg
The Michigan State Spartans lose their top three scorers from a season ago, including guards Denzel Valentine and Bryn Forbes, leaving a void on the back end for an elite scorer. Enter Eron Harris, who is in his second year with the Spartans after transferring from the West Virginia Mountaineers. Coach Izzo is hoping that Harris can produce like he did as a sophomore for the Mountaineers, when he averaged 17.2 points per game. He will be the go-to option on the back end, and should average 15 points per game this season. Harris will also benefit from the Spartans adding talented freshmen forwards to the mix.
63. Charles Cooke – Dayton Flyers
2015-16 Stats: 15.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.2 bpg, 1.3 spg
It was the same-old thing for the Dayton Flyers in 2015-16. They are consistently near the top of the Atlantic 10 Conference, and last year was no different. Cooke was a big factor in their success, leading the team in scoring while shooting 44.7% from the floor. With Dyshawn Pierre having graduated, more of the offensive load will fall on the shoulders of Cooke. His track record in college shows he can handle being the go-to guy, as he’s averaged at least 14.3 points over the last two years with the Flyers and James Madison Dukes.
62. Justin Robinson – Monmouth Hawks
2015-16 Stats: 19.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.2 spg
In 2015-16, Justin Robinson and the rest of the Monmouth Hawks burst onto the national scene, kicking things off with a road upset over the UCLA Bruins and finishing 3rd in the AdvoCare Invitational. Robinson was the top player last season, averaging a team-best 19.3 points per contest. The Hawks were snubbed of a spot in the NCAA Tournament, so you can bet Robinson and company will come out with a chip on their shoulder this season. This should lead to another big year for the 5’8” guard.
61. Donovan Mitchell – Louisville Cardinals
2015-16 Stats: 7.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.7 apg
Mitchell didn’t put up big numbers as a freshman, but not many players would when they are behind the likes of Trey Lewis and Damion Lee on the depth chart. In just over 19 minutes per game, Mitchell showed flashes of what is to be expected of him as a sophomore. His collegiate career started with a 14-point performance against the Samford Bulldogs, and he put up a season-high 18 points later in the year in a win over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. With more minutes sure to come his way, it’s time to see what Mitchell can do on a consistent basis.
60. Malcolm Hill – Illinois Fighting Illini
2015-16 Stats: 18.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.3 apg
Despite the Illini struggling as a team last season due to injuries to several key players, Malcolm Hill showed that he’s one of the best players in the Big Ten Conference. The team leader in points last season will have a strong supporting cast in 2016-17 as he looks to lead Illinois back to the NCAA Tournament. The one thing holding Hill back is a consistent three point jump shot, as he dropped from 38.9% in 2014-15 to 31.4% a year ago. If he can improve his shooting, he’ll be in contention for Big Ten Player of the Year.
59. Antonio Campbell – Ohio Bobcats
2015-16 Stats: 17.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.8 bpg
The big man for the Bobcats emerged as one of the top forwards, not only in the Mid-Atlantic Conference, but the entire NCAA as a whole. He can score, he can rebound, and he can shoot the three pointer, finishing last season with a field goal percentage of 36.8% from beyond the arc. Add in the fact that Campbell recorded 17 double-doubles as a junior, including a 17-point, 19-rebound performance against the UNC-Greensboro Spartans in the quarter-finals of the 2016 CBI, the ceiling is infinite for Campbell in 2016-17.
58. James Blackmon, Jr. – Indiana Hoosiers
2015-16 Stats: 15.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 1.7 apg
When James Blackmon, Jr. decided to return to school for the 2016-17 season, Indiana fans everywhere rejoiced. With the loss of Yogi Ferrell to graduation, Coach Crean will look to Blackmon, Jr. to take control of the offense. He finished second on the team in scoring a year ago, trailing only Ferrell in that category. With several other key players returning, James Blackmon, Jr. and the rest of the Hoosiers are poised for a big year.
57. Jaylen Adams – St. Bonaventure Bonnies
2015-16 Stats: 17.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 5.0 apg
To think that Jaylen Adams is only a junior in 2016-17 is scary for the rest of the Atlantic 10. He was second on the team in scoring last season, trailing only Marcus Posley, who has since graduated. Now, Adams is the go-to option on the offensive end. With his excellent court vision and passing skills, he can find open teammates and create opportunities for others when the shot isn’t there for him. Add in transfers David Andoh and Matt Mobley, and the Bonnies are a sleeper team in the conference with Adams leading the way.
56. Rodney Purvis – Connecticut Huskies
2015-16 Stats: 12.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.1 apg
In his second season with the Huskies, guard Rodney Purvis led the team in scoring as a junior, averaging 12.8 points per contest. With Kevin Ollie’s team losing several key pieces from last year’s squad, the duo of Purvis and Jalen Adams will be looked upon to lead the way. Purvis is a strong shooter from the floor, but needs to improve his free throw shooting if he wants to take his game to the next level. The 2016-17 season will be a big year for the native of Raleigh, NC.
55. Jordan Bell – Oregon Ducks
2015-16 Stats: 7.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.8 bpg
Jordan Bell is the first of four Oregon players in the top 55 of the list, which says something about the team that Dana Altman will have in Eugene this season. As a sophomore, he saw his minutes decrease slightly, but his points per game increased from 5.1 as a freshman to 7.0 last year. Both Dwayne Benjamin and Elgin Cook have graduated, which will send more minutes Bell’s way. Alongside fellow forward Chris Boucher, the Ducks have one of the top defensive front courts in the Pac-12.Look for Bell to average close to 11 points and 7 rebounds a game, along with 2 blocks per contest.
54. Allonzo Trier – Arizona Wildcats
2015-16 Stats: 14.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.1 apg
Allonzo Trier was the best freshman for the Arizona Wildcats last season, and is the top returning scorer from 2015-16. Ryan Anderson, Gabe York, and Kaleb Tarczewski are both gone, but Sean Miller has once again reloaded with more freshmen talent. The back court will get a little crowded this season, with the return of Ray Smith alongside the plethora of incoming players. Trier’s production may dip slightly, but he has the shooting prowess and speed to remain one of the team’s best players.
53. Marcus Foster – Creighton Bluejays
2014-15 Stats: 12.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.9 apg (with Kansas State)
Marcus Foster is a bit of a mystery in 2016-17, because it’s unclear which version will show up for the Bluejays this season. As a sophomore with the Kansas State Wildcats, he averaged a team-high 12.5 points per game. After aHe has the three point prowess to become a star in the Big East, and his ability to get into the lane off the dribble is second-to-none. He will form a strong back court tandem with Maurice Watson, Jr.
52. Alec Peters – Valparaiso Crusaders
2015-16 Stats: 18.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.3 apg
Alec Peters was a junior in 2015-16, and went through the pre-draft process following the season. Then, on the entry deadline, he withdrew his name from the draft and became a graduate transfer. He promptly returned to Valparaiso, where he will lead the Crusaders for one final time. His return sets up the Crusaders for another Horizon League title, as they will enter the season as the clear-cut favourites. Peters helped lead Valparaiso to the NIT Championship in 2015-16, and he’ll be looked upon to lead the team on another deep post-season run.
51. Austin Nichols – Virginia Cavaliers
2014-15 Stats: 13.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.4 bpg (with Memphis)
What Virginia usually lacks on the recruiting trail in terms of freshmen (top-10 class this year), they make up for on the transfer market. Following the 2014-15 season, Tony Bennett landed one of the top transfers, in forward Austin Nichols. He led the Memphis Tigers in scoring and blocks, and was highly coveted on the transfer market. Nichols adds size to the forward rotation for the Cavaliers in 2016-17, and will draw some of the attention away from star guard London Perrantes.
50. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – Kansas Jayhawks
2015-16 Stats: 5.4 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.9 apg
Last season, Mykhailiuk only played an average of 12.8 minutes per contest, and appeared in 35 of the team’s 38 contests. Despite his minimal playing time and lack of production (5.4 ppg), he is still considered one of the more talented players on Kansas’ roster. Even if he comes off the bench again this season, Mykhailiuk can affect games with his shooting ability, making him one of the more dangerous players in the game.
49. Jalen Brunson – Villanova Wildcats
2015-16 Stats: 9.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
Brunson is the first of several Villanova players who are in position for an expanded role in 2016-17. He was one of seven player to appear in all 40 games last season, showcasing his durability. He’s one of two only combo guards on the roster, meaning he will be used in different lineups once again. His ability to constantly adapt will determine how much he plays this season, but the tools are all there for him to make a big leap.
48. Jawun Evans – Oklahoma State Cowboys
2015-16 Stats: 12.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.9 apg
Despite playing in just 22 games last season, the Oklahoma State freshman was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. He was second on the team in scoring, behind only Phil Forte, who only played three games. Evans finished the year shooting 47.5% from three point range, and 47.1% from the floor overall. In 2016-17, Evans will be an even bigger part of the picture for new head coach Brad Underwood. A returning Forte will help Evans become a household name on the national stage.
47. Luke Kennard – Duke Blue Devils
2015-16 Stats: 11.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.5 apg
The sharp-shooting guard didn’t shoot as well from three point range as many expected last season, finishing the year shooting 32.0% from long distance. This season, with the highly-touted freshmen the Blue Devils have coming in, Kennard may lose playing time. But, having a player like Kennard coming off the bench is a ‘problem’ many other coaches would love to have.
46. Rodney Bullock – Providence Friars
2015-16 Stats: 11.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 1.3 bpg
The biggest question mark on the list is forward Rodney Bullock. He came into his own last season, playing alongside Ben Bentil and Kris Dunn. However, both of them are gone this season, which means Bullock is left to carry the team. He will see more double-teams this season, and it’s unclear as to how he will adapt to being the top guy. He has the ability to stretch the floor with his shooting ability, which will be critical to his success this season.
45. Moses Kingsley – Arkansas Razorbacks
2015-16 Stats: 15.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 2.4 bpg
Kingsley is arguably the top forward in the SEC that nobody is talking about. He burst onto the scene in 2015-16, playing over 29 minutes per night and averaging close to a double-double every time he stepped on the floor. He’s a big body (6-10, 230) that’s tough to move in the paint on offense, and is a nightmare for opponents to get around on the defensive end. Let’s see if he can build off a strong junior season and keep the momentum going in 2016-17.
44. Jordan Mathews – Gonzaga Bulldogs
2015-16 Stats: 13.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.3 apg
Jordan Mathews caught people by surprise when he declared his intentions to transfer from California. It didn’t take him long to find his new home at Gonzaga. With both Wiltjer and Sabonis gone, Mathews can step in and contribute right away. Expect a stat line similar to his 2015-16 totals.
43. Kelan Martin – Butler Bulldogs
2015-16 Stats: 15.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.1 apg
Kelan Martin is the top returning scorer in the Big East from a season ago, which is great news for the Butler Bulldogs. The team loses both Kellen Dunham and Roosevelt Jones, meaning Martin will see an increased role with the team this season. His ability to score, both in the paint and with his jump shot out to the three point range is a huge asset for the Bulldogs.
42. Shake Milton – SMU Mustangs
2015-16 Stats: 10.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.7 apg
Despite playing behind Nic Moore, Shake Milton excelled in his freshman campaign, giving SMU fans another reason to be excited about their team. Still, he averaged close to 33 minutes of court time each night, pouring in 10.5 points per game on 47.7% shooting from the floor. In 2016-17, with Moore graduated, the Mustangs are now Milton’s team, and the sharp-shooter looks ready for his ascent to stardom in the American Athletic Conference.
41. Seth Allen – Virginia Tech Hokies
2015-16 Stats: 14.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.5 apg
The former Maryland guard excelled in his first season with the Hokies, leading the team in scoring with 14.7 points per contest. However, his three point percentage dropped from 38% in 2013-14 to 28% last season. With the Hokies expected to be a sleeper team in the ACC this season, Allen will be in for another big year. But, he’ll have support and won’t have to put up big numbers, which may help improve his shooting percentage again.
40. Joel Berry II – North Carolina Tar Heels
2015-16 Stats: 12.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.8 apg
As a sophomore last season, Berry asserted himself as another up-and-coming star for the Tar Heels. He improved his scoring by over 8 points from his freshman total, and shot 44.6% from the floor. He also improved his free throw shooting from 75.7% as a freshman to 86.7% as a sophomore. Berry is on a quick upward trajectory, and he’ll be looked upon to take on a bigger role with the team this season with the loss of several stars. He looks poised to take another big step in 2016-17.
39. Kris Jenkins – Villanova Wildcats
2015-16 Stats: 13.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.2 apg
There’s no way that Jenkins can top the way he ended his 2015-16 campaign. A three pointer at the buzzer to win the National Championship is something that people dream about, but Jenkins did just that. All throughout the NCAA Tournament, he showed that he is a legitimate threat from long distance, hitting on 17-of-35 attempts from three point range. Look for Jenkins’ role to expand this season, and his production to continue its upward trajectory.
38. Quinndary Weatherspoon – Mississippi State Bulldogs
2015-16 Stats: 12.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.4 spg
It’s odd to think that a player who averaged 12.0 points and 4.7 rebounds per game ‘underachieved’ last season, but that’s what some people think about Weatherspoon’s freshman campaign. In 2016-17, he is in for a breakout campaign. Over the Bulldogs’ first two games on their Italy trip, Weatherspoon put up a total of 63 points. He can score in bunches, which is great news for Ben Howland and the rest of the coaching staff moving forwards.
37. Dedric Lawson – Memphis Tigers
2015-16 Stats: 15.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.2 spg
Simply put, Dedric Lawson is one of the top players in the American Athletic Conference, if not the top player. He can score, he can rebound, and he disrupts his opponents on the defensive end of the floor with his size. Oh, and he’s only a sophomore in 2016-17. Lawson is the front-runner for AAC Player of the Year.
36. Bronson Koenig – Wisconsin Badgers
2015-16 Stats: 13.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.4 apg
The Wisconsin Badgers are going to be a top team in the Big Ten this season, and Bronson Koenig will play a big part in the team’s overall success. He shot 39% from three point range a season ago, giving the Badgers a deep threat to complement their skilled forwards. Koenig is one of three Badgers to appear on the list.
35. Mikal Bridges – Villanova Wildcats
2015-16 Stats: 6.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.1 spg
Yes, Bridges only played an average of 20.3 minutes per game a year ago. But, he also appeared in all 40 games for Jay Wright’s crew. He is efficient from the floor in his limited action, which is a point in his favour. The biggest thing about his game? His versatility. Coaches at the next level love versatility, and Bridges is that player. He can do so many things for a team, many of which you can’t put a price on.
34. Jordan McLaughlin – USC Trojans
2015-16 Stats: 13.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.7 apg, 1.6 spg
The return of Jordan McLaughlin was crucial for the Trojans, who lost both Nikola Jovanovic and Julian Jacobs early to the NBA Draft, and Katin Reinhardt due to transfer. To think that McLaughlin is only a junior in 2016-17 is scary, because he still has room to grow and he’s already a top-level guard in the Pac-12.
33. V.J. Beachem – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2015-16 Stats: 12.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 0.8 apg
Forward V.J. Beachem was the third-leading scorer for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last season, behind Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste. Beachem saw his minutes jump to over 31 minutes per game, and he made the most of it, doubling his points per game average from the year before. With Jackson and Auguste gone, Beachem will be looked upon to take on an even bigger role with the team. He will need to become more of a factor on the glass, both on offense and defense, if he wants to be the player that Notre Dame hopes he can become.
32. Damyean Dotson – Houston Cougars
2015-16 Stats: 13.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.3 apg
After seeing his minutes and production dip as a sophomore at Oregon, Dotson decided to transfer, He landed in Houston, and quickly regained the form he had as a freshman. He was third on the team in scoring in 2015-16, but is poised for a big jump this season, especially with the Cougars on the rise as a team. At 6’5”, Dotson has the size to battle in the paint for rebounds, while also possessing the shooting ability to score from anywhere on the floor. Don’t be surprised to see Dotson on the All-AAC First Team at year’s end.
31. Isaiah Briscoe – Kentucky Wildcats
2015-16 Stats: 9.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.0 spg
When several of Kentucky’s key players declared for the NBA Draft following the 2015-16 season, Isaiah Briscoe wasn’t one of them. He opted to return to school for his sophomore season, and will be a key piece of Kentucky’s roster despite John Calipari bringing in yet another top-two recruiting class. Briscoe will be competing for playing time this season, but he will likely be a starter at the beginning of the season. He will be looked upon to not only produce on the court, but be a leader on the team. A consistent jumper is what’s holding him back right now.
30. Maurice Watson, Jr. – Creighton Bluejays
2015-16 Stats: 14.1 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 6.5 apg
Over his three-year collegiate career, split between Creighton and the Boston U. Terriers, Watson has been among the leaders across the nation in assists per game. But, Watson can do more than just dish out assists. He led the Bluejays in scoring a season ago, averaging more than 14 points per game. With the addition of Marcus Foster to the team this season, Watson won’t have to score as much as he did a year ago. Expect him to be as effective as ever, being near the top of the list in assists per game once more.
29. Dwayne Bacon – Florida State Seminoles
2015-16 Stats: 15.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg
Both Bacon and Malik Beasley declared for the 2016 NBA Draft following last season. Beasley stayed in the draft, while Bacon opted to return to school for at least one more year. The Seminoles’ leading scorer will be joined again by Xavier Rathan-Mayes, and a top-rated freshman class that includes forward Jonathan Isaac. The 6’7” guard has the size and ability to play different positions, which allows Florida State to use him in different lineups. NBA teams love versatility, and Bacon will look to showcase that, along with his shooting abilities, in 2016-17.
28. Jack Gibbs – Davidson Wildcats
2015-16 Stats: 23.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.8 spg
Davidson was put on the national map thanks to a guy who has recently taken over the NBA. His name is Steph Curry. (You may have heard of him). Now, the Wildcats are still a team to watch because of another high-scoring guard, named Jack Gibbs. He led the Atlantic 10 in scoring last season, and was among the nation’s top scorers with his 23.5 points per game average. He saw his minutes increase to over 35 a game, and he made the most of his opportunity. Consider Gibbs the front-runner for Atlantic 10 Player of the Year if he puts up numbers anywhere close to the ones he posted last year.
27. Nigel Hayes – Wisconsin Badgers
2015-16 Stats: 15.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.1 spg
Last season, Hayes was considered by many as a front-runner for both the Big Ten Player of the Year award and the Wooden Award. In the end, Denzel Valentine and Buddy Hield put together impressive seasons in their own right and took home the awards, respectively. This season, Hayes is once again a front-runner in the Big Ten. He struggled a bit without Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky last season, but should get things back on track this season with a strong supporting cast.
26. Antonio Blakeney – LSU Tigers
2015-16 Stats: 12.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 0.9 apg
Out of high school, Antonio Blakeney was a highly-touted recruit who eventually committed to LSU. He was the 15th-ranked recruit in the Class of 2015, but never fully lived up to expectations as a freshman. He was vastly overshadowed by Ben Simmons, and wasn’t given as many opportunities to showcase his abilities. With Simmons off to the NBA, and Keith Hornsby having graduated, it’s Blakeney’s time to shine. Expect big things from the guard this season, as he become ‘the guy’ for Johnny Jones’ squad.
25. Nick Emery – BYU Cougars
2015-16 Stats: 16.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.4 spg
Both Chase Fischer and Kyle Collinsworth, aka Mr. Triple-Double, have graduated from BYU, meaning it’s now Nick Emery’s team. As a freshman in 2015-16, Emery finished second on the team in scoring, while shooting 42.5% from the floor and 38.3% from three point range. He posted 11 games with 20 or more points, including back-to-back games of 37 and 31 points in February. The high-scoring guard will be tough to contain this season, and is a front-runner for West Coast Player of the Year. He’ll also be joined by two former high school teammates who are returning from Mormon missions, which will only help Emery’s game.
24. Peter Jok – Iowa Hawkeyes
2015-16 Stats: 16.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.3 spg
Like so many players on this list, Peter Jok’s strong 2015-16 season was overshadowed by another player’s performance. Jarrod Uthoff‘s season overshadowed what Jok did as a junior last year, but it’s all about Jok in 2016-17. He’s the lone starter returning from last year’s team, meaning there’s a ton of pressure on him to keep the momentum going from last year. He opted to return to school as opposed to entering the draft early.
23. Frank Mason III – Kansas Jayhawks
2015-16 Stats: 12.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.6 apg, 1.3 spg
Frank Mason III does a little bit of everything for Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks. With Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden, Jr. having moved on, Mason will be looked upon to carry the load on offense this season. He won’t have to do it alone, as the Jayhawks reloaded with talented freshmen to ease the pain of losing their two top players.
22. Chris Boucher – Oregon Ducks
2015-16 Stats: 12.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.9 bpg
Last season, Chris Boucher led the Pac-12 with 2.9 blocks per contest, despite only playing 25.8 minutes per contest. Expect Boucher to play a bigger role in the Ducks’ rotation this season, which means even more blocks for the talented big man. He’s a strong third option on offense behind Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey.
21. Ethan Happ – Wisconsin Badgers
2015-16 Stats: 12.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.8 spg
As the 2015-16 season progressed, we all caught glimpses of the type of player that Ethan Happ could turn into. He put together an 18-point, 15-rebound performance against Syracuse in the regular season, and averaged 15.6 points and 9.3 rebounds over the Badgers’ three NCAA Tournament games.
20. Nigel Williams-Goss – Gonzaga Bulldogs
2014-15 Stats: 15.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.9 apg (with Washington)
The Gonzaga Bulldogs will rely heavily on transfers this season, with Jordan Mathews (#44) being joined by Williams-Goss and Johnathan Williams. At Washinton, Williams-Goss led the Huskies in scoring as a sophomore, scoring 15.6 points per contest. He is durable (36.8 mpg in 2014-15), and can put the ball in the basket. But, his high basketball IQ allows him to be crafty with the ball, and he uses his quickness and court vision to create something out of nothing.
19. OG Anunoby – Indiana Hoosiers
2015-16 Stats: 4.9 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 0.5 apg
Some may feel that the 19th spot is too high for a player who only saw an average of 13.7 minutes of action on a nightly basis. However, Anunoby was stuck behind Troy Williams on Indiana’s depth chart, and is one of the best pure athletes on the team. He scored a combined 24 points in two games against Michigan in the regular season, and put up a season-high 14 points in just 15 minutes of action against Chattanooga in the Round of 64. Anunoby could be the most improved player in the Big Ten at year’s end.
18. Trevon Bluiett – Xavier Musketeers
2015-16 Stats: 15.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.2 apg
Bluiett was only a sophomore in 2015-16, but he led the Musketeers in scoring, averaging 15.1 points per contest. Xavier is a young team, with both Bluiett and Edmond Sumner being underclassmen, but the talent is there. At 6’6”, Bluiett is able to stretch the floor with his shooting ability, while also being able to drive the lane and finish in contact. With RaShid Gaston eligible this season after transferring from the Norfolk State Spartans, Bluiett and the Musketeers will be a top team in the Big East once more.
17. Devonte’ Graham – Kansas Jayhawks
2015-16 Stats: 11.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.4 spg
Devonte’ Graham is widely known across the college basketball landscape as an elite defender. He is ferocious on the defensive end of the floor, using his quickness to disrupt the flow of his opponents. Graham can also hold his own on offense, as he shot 46.0% from the floor in 2015-16.
16. Jalen Adams – Connecticut Huskies
2015-16 Stats: 7.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 spg
A little high for a player who only averaged 7.3 points and 2.6 rebounds per game as a freshman? Some may argue yes, but Adams’ role on the Huskies will be vastly different this season than it was a year ago. Shonn Miller and Sterling Gibbs are both gone, along with Daniel Hamilton, meaning Connecticut will be looking for another go-to scoring option to complement Rodney Purvis. Enter Jalen Adams, who only played a shade over 23 minutes per game last season. He has the knack for hitting big shots, and will be a big time contributor in 2016-17.
15. Caleb Swanigan – Purdue Boilermakers
2015-16 Stats: 10.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.8 apg
Following the 2015-16 season, Swanigan declared for the 2016 NBA Draft. After going through the pre-draft process, Swanigan wisely decided to return to school for another year. While his defense needs some work, the potential is sky-high for the second-year big man. A double-double per game average is what many people are expecting out of Swanigan, who has First Team All-Big Ten potential this season.
14. Tyler Dorsey – Oregon Ducks
2015-16 Stats: 13.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.0 apg
As a freshman in 2015-16, Dorsey put up big numbers and quickly emerged as a budding star in the Pac-12. He would have been ranked higher if it wasn’t for his struggles in the NCAA Tournament, where he shot a combined 5-of-19 against Duke and Oklahoma.
13. Jordan Woodard – Oklahoma Sooners
2015-16 Stats: 13.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.6 spg
Jordan Woodard had the benefit of playing alongside Buddy Hield a season ago, which opened up a lot of opportunities for the junior guard. In 2016-17, Woodard is one of only two starters returning for the Sooners, meaning the number of open looks on offense will surely decrease as he draws the eye of his opponent’s top defender(s). He shot 45.7% from three point range a year ago, but will need to create more opportunities for himself this season.
12. Jaron Blossomgame – Clemson Tigers
2015-16 Stats: 18.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.3 bpg
Jaron Blossomgame declared for the 2016 NBA Draft following the 2015-16 season. He was invited to the NBA Draft Combine, and went through pre-draft workouts. Ultimately, he chose to return to Clemson for his senior season, and is one of the top players in the country this season. He’s a top-tier scoring guard who is effective from the field (51.3% in ’15-16). He can hit shots from anywhere, he can rebounds, and he is a strong defender. Need an underdog for ACC Player of the Year? Look no further.
11. London Perrantes – Virginia Cavaliers
2015-16 Stats: 11.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.1 spg
With Malcolm Brogdon having graduated, the back court is now run by London Perrantes. His numbers won’t blow you away, but he’s excellent at what he does. He can score a bit, he can rebound, and he’s an excellent three point shooter (48.8% last season). On the defensive end of the floor, he puts pressure on opposing guards, disrupting the flow of his opponents. With the addition of Austin Nichols to the mix, Perrantes should flourish as a senior. His one-assist performance in the Elite Eight against Syracuse last season is nothing but a distant memory.
10. Edmond Sumner – Xavier Musketeers
2015-16 Stats: 11.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 1.3 spg
After a strong freshman campaign in 2015-16, which saw him finish second on the team in scoring, guard Edmond Sumner was named to the Big East All-Freshman Team. He is a dynamic guard who is quick and can get into the lane and draw contact. Sumner could make a run at Big East Player of the Year this season, but he needs to continue to develop his jump shot. He’s a little streaky with his jumper, but everything else is there. Regardless, he’ got a bright future ahead of him.
9. Tyler Lydon – Syracuse Orange
2015-16 Stats: 10.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 1.8 bpg
During the 2016 NCAA Tournament, nobody made more of a statement than Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon. Over the Orange’s five games, he recorded 20 blocks and asserted himself as one of the premier shot blockers in the country. The 2016-17 season will be a good indication of where is game is at, but based on how he ended last season, he showed he’s one of the top players in the country. Let’s see if he lives up to the hype.
8. Melo Trimble – Maryland Terrapins
2015-16 Stats: 14.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.9 apg
Melo Trimble is back for Mark Turgeon in a Maryland uniform, which instantly gives the Terrapins a chance in any game this season. But, Trimble will be without the likes of Jake Layman, Diamond Stone, Rasheed Sulaimon, and Robert Carter from last year’s team. He’s widely considered as one of the best point guards in the country, and will need to bounce back from his struggles as a sophomore to lead the Terrapins. He’s one of the best in the pick-and-roll, so chances are that he’ll bounce back just fine.
7. Justin Jackson – North Carolina Tar Heels
2015-16 Stats: 12.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.8 apg
Justin Jackson is one of the most talented players in the country who has yet to officially become a bonafide ‘star’. In 2016-17, he will get his chance, with both Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige gone from North Carolina. Jackson is known as a top-tier defender, but he will need to take his offensive game up another notch for the Tar Heels in 2016-17. As his career has progressed so far, there’s little to no doubt that Jackson will rise to the occasion and become the leader of North Carolina that Coach Williams will be looking for.
6. Thomas Bryant – Indiana Hoosiers
2015-16 Stats: 11.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.9 bpg
Bryant is another Indiana forward who saw limited action in 2015-16, thus not allowing fans to see his full potential. Bryant decided early in the off-season to return to school for his sophomore season, and instantly became a top candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year. At 6’10” and 245 pounds, the former top-20 recruit is efficient from both the floor (68.3% FG) and the free throw line (70.6% FT). If he can improve on the defensive end, and become more of an interior presence, his game will go to another level.
5. Monte Morris – Iowa State Cyclones
2015-16 Stats: 13.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 6.9 apg, 1.8 spg
With the departures of Georges Niang and Abdel Nader, senior point guard Monte Morris is now the big man on campus. He has the offensive game to be the team’s leader in points per game, but has the court vision and basketball IQ to hurt you in many other ways. Morris will be a front-runner for the Big 12 Player of the Year award.
4. Josh Hart – Villanova Wildcats
2015-16 Stats: 15.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.2 spg
The scoring leader for the Wildcats last season opted for the NBA Draft following the 2015-16 season. In the end, he chose to return to school, and instantly made Villanova a threat to repeat as National Champions. With both Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu having graduated, this is now Hart’s team. He’s the early favourite for Big East Player of the Year.
3. Dillon Brooks – Oregon Ducks
2015-16 Stats: 16.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.1 spg
The Canadian has been a star since he stepped foot on Oregon’s campus. Last season, Brooks led the Ducks in points and assists per game, en route to helping the team secure a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. As a junior in 2016-17, Brooks is a favourite to take home the Pac-12 Player of the Year award. With the core of the Ducks back, he’ll have plenty of support.
2. Grayson Allen – Duke Blue Devils
2015-16 Stats: 21.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.3 spg
Duke’s newest ‘villain’ is one of the nation’s top players. He went from small minutes as a freshman to the nation’s most improved player as a sophomore. He can shoot from all over the floor, and can hurt you with his quickness. Allen will be the ‘veteran’ on a young but talented Duke team who are the early favourites to win the 2017 NCAA Championship.
1. Ivan Rabb – California Golden Bears
2015-16 Stats: 12.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Sophomore Ivan Rabb is the top returning player in the country, and is in a position to make a huge jump from last season. California’s top three scorers from the 2015-16 season are all gone, leaving Rabb to carry the torch. When Rabb opted to return to school as opposed to going pro, predictions had started for the 6’11” big man. A Pac-12 Player of the Year award could very well be in his future.
Just Missed the List:
Mike Daum – South Dakota State Jackrabbits
Rashawn Thomas – Texas A&M-CC Islanders
Trey Kell – San Diego State Aztecs
Omar Prewitt – William & Mary Tribe
Elijah Wilson – Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Jeremy Senglin – Weber State Wildcats
Isaac Haas – Purdue Boilermakers
RaShid Gaston – Xavier Musketeers
Kevin Hervey – UT-Arlington Mavericks
Spencer Weisz – Princeton Tigers
Makai Mason – Yale Bulldogs
– T. Bennett