With over 5,200 players slated to play collegiate basketball in Division I this season, there are talented players from coast to coast. Some of them are household names, while there are plenty of players who people haven’t heard of, but are demanding of your attention.
The majority of fans tend to focus on the power five conferences, turning a blind eye to the smaller programs. When you dig deeper, you’ll see that the non-power five schools have players who could just as easily play for a power conference program.
When it comes to senior guards in the NCAA, there are talented players from coast to coast. With so many players, it was nearly impossible to cut the list down to just 10 players without leaving star-calibre players off the list.
Each will have 10 senior guards who will become household names in 2016-17, along with five others to keep a flag on as the season progresses.
**Note: Justin Robinson burst onto the scene last season, and Quinton Hooker was named the CCR Player of the Year. Both didn’t make the list, as we feel that they are already household names on a much larger scale than some of the other senior guards.**
Antonius Cleveland – Southeast Missouri State Redhawks
2015-16 Stats: 15.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.6 spg; 43.7% FG, 61.0% FT, 17.4% 3PT
Guard Antonius Cleveland is hoping to kick off the 2016-17 season on a similar streak of the one he closed the 2015-16 season on. Over the final 10 games of the season, Cleveland scored in double-figures in each one, and put up 20 or more points in four of those games.
Over the course of the year, Cleveland led the Redhawks in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.2 points and 6.6 rebounds per contest. He also recorded five double-doubles.
One stat of note for Cleveland as he enters his senior campaign is his field goal shooting. It has dropped each year since his freshman season.
In 2015-16, he finished the season shooting 43.6% from the field, which isn’t a bad number by any means. He attempted an average of 13.2 field goals per contest. If he can get better looks at the basket, or find open teammates as opposed to taking low percentage shots, Cleveland could be in for a career year in 2016-17.
Omar Prewitt – William & Mary Tribe
2015-16 Stats: 17.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.5 apg; 49.3% FG, 70.4% FT, 36.4% 3PT
On the Tribe’s official website, Prewitt is listed as both a guard and forward. But, both ESPN and the NCAA have the 6’7” senior listed as a guard, which is why he appears on the list.
Regardless of where he lines up on a nightly basis, Omar Prewitt is a player you’ll want to know in 2016-17.
Prewitt had quite the season in 2015-16. He led the Tribe in scoring with 17.8 points per contest, finishing third amongst all scorers in the Colonial Athletic Association in the process. He was named to the All-CAA First Team for his efforts.
He was one of three players to start all 31 games for the Tribe over the course of the season. Prewitt also became the 38th player in school history to top the 1,000-point mark for his career. At year’s end, he was in 13th place with 1,331 career points.
Prewitt is a top-tier scorer, evident by him recording double-figures in 27 of the school’s 31 contests, and scoring 20 or more in 13 of those games. As his career comes to an end, expect the sharp-shooting Prewitt to put together another big year.
Ethan Telfair – Idaho State Bengals
2015-16 Stats: 20.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.4 apg, 2.4 spg; 39.8% FG, 86.9% FT, 38.7% 3PT
How will Ethan Telfair, the 2016 Big Sky Newcomer of the Year, top his first season with the Bengals? It’ll be tough, without a doubt, but he’s more than ready for the challenge.
In his first season at Idaho State after transferring from Redlands C.C., Telfair helped lead the team to a nine-win improvement from the season prior. The Bengals went from a team that finished 7-23 in 2014-15, to an above-.500 team in 2015-16, finishing with a record of 16-15.
Telfair put together one of the best all-round statistical seasons in Idaho State history last season. He finished in the top five on the school’s single-season record list in points (626; 5th), steals (74; 2nd), assists (167; 3rd), and free throws made (205; 2nd).
He appeared in all 31 games for the Bengals, making 29 starts. He scored in double-figures 30 times, and topped the 30-point mark on seven occasions. Against Big Sky opponents, Telfair upped his averages to 23.9 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Heading into the 2016-17 season, all eyes will be on Telfair to see how he follows up his fantastic junior campaign. All signs point to him being a top contender for the Big Sky Player of the Year award, and expect numbers similar to those of last season.
Dallas Moore – North Florida Ospreys
2015-16 Stats: 19.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.0 apg; 51.6% FG, 71.1% FT, 39.5% 3PT
In 2015-16, Dallas Moore has himself quite the year with the North Florida Ospreys. He was named the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, and was named to the 1st Team All-Atlantic Sun for the second year in a row.
Moore led the Ospreys in scoring and assists per game, and was just one of four players in the nation to lead his team in both categories. He started all 34 games, scoring in double-figures in 33 of them. His only game in single-digits came on February 6th against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, where he recorded 5 points and 5 rebounds.
He is also the leading scorer in North Florida history. His 672 points and 205 assists last season were both single-season records for the Ospreys. Moore is arguably one of the best players in the country, and the top dog in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
Moore can do it all for the Ospreys. He can score from all over the floor, he can rebound on both ends of the court, and he can find open teammates for high-percentage scoring opportunities. The front-runner for a second straight Atlantic Sun Player of the Year award could very well hear his name called in the 2017 NBA Draft at year’s end.
He’s just that good.
Tra-Deon Hollins – Omaha Mavericks
2015-16 Stats: 12.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 6.1 apg, 4.0 spg; 46.2% FG, 74.5% FT, 28.4% 3PT
Across the entire NCAA, you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who is more well-rounded than Tra-Deon Hollins. He excels on the defensive end of the floor, and contributes on offense in more ways than one, making him one of the nation’s best guards.
Last season, his first with the Mavericks, Hollins led the nation with 4.0 steals per contest. The next closest on the list averaged 2.8 steals per game. Hollins recorded five or more steals in 11 games, recording a season-high 8 steals on January 16th against the Fort Wayne Mastodons.
But, Hollins is much more than a master thief on the hardwood. He can carry himself on the offensive end, averaging 12.5 points and 6.1 assists per game as a junior. In the January 16th game against the Mastodons, Hollins recorded 23 points and 13 assists to go along with his 8 steals.
The transfer from Chipola College showed that he belonged in the NCAA in 2015-16. Hollins quickly established himself as a strong defender, but the case could easily be made that he is the most well-rounded player in the entire NCAA.
Jordan Potts – Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
2015-16 Stats: 16.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.6 spg; 34.8% FG, 77.9% FT, 32.1% 3PT
There were only eight players in the country who were on the court more on average than the Wildcats’ Jordan Potts. He ranked 9th in the nation in average court time, playing an average of 37:43 on a nightly basis.
Add in the fact that Potts started all 32 games for Bethune-Cookman last season, and his ability to avoid injury and play the minutes he does is impressive.
Potts was named to the 2nd Team All-MEAC for his efforts, and was a 3rd Team HBCU All-American. He scored in double figures 27 times, making his mark from beyond the three point line on most nights.
In 2015-16, Potts connected on at least one three pointer in 30 of the team’s 32 games. In total, he made 85 three pointers, which was good for the 5th-best mark in school history.
The sharp-shooter will look to improve his mid-range jumpers and carry the Wildcats back into contention in the ever-crowded MEAC race in 2016-17.
Marcus Johnson, Jr. – Little Rock Trojans
2015-16 Stats: 12.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.5 apg; 47.3% FG, 78.3% FT, 46.6% 3PT
Marcus Johnson, Jr. is looking to follow in the footsteps of former Little Rock guard Josh Hagins and lead the Trojans back to the NCAA Tournament in front of a national audience.
Last season, Johnson, Jr. wasted little time making an impact at the Division I level. In just his second game, he recorded 30 points and 4 assists against Centenary College.
With both Hagins and Roger Woods gone from last season’s 30-win team, more pressure will be put on Johnson, Jr. to lead the Trojans. The All-Sun Belt 2nd Team member established himself as a legitimate deep threat, connecting on 46.6% of his three point attempts as a junior.
He was the top three point shooter in the Sun Belt Conference, and his 46.6% was the third-best single season mark in school history.
With opportunities aplenty on the horizon for Johnson, Jr. in 2016-17, he’s a player you won’t want to miss. After last season’s showing for the Trojans as a whole, plenty of eyes will be on Little Rock to see how they follow up last year’s successes, which means there will be ample opportunities to catch Marcus Johnson, Jr. in action.
Patrick Cole – North Carolina Central Eagles
2015-16 Stats: 14.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.2 apg; 38.3% FG, 74.2% FT, 31.4% 3PT
When Patrick Cole suited up for the North Carolina Central Eagles in 2015-16, he was playing for his third team in the NCAA. He was a part of the Coppin State Eagles as a freshman, then transferred to the Siena Saints for a season before returning to the MEAC with the Eagles.
Last season, Cole appeared in 24 games for the Eagles, making six starts. After missing the first handful of games, Cole wasted little time making a statement with his new team. He scored in double-figures in five straight games to open his career with the Eagles.
At year’s end, his 14.4 points per game were good for the second-best mark on the team. Heading into the 2016-17 season, with his minutes likely to increase due to being a permanent fixture in the starting lineup, Cole is in for a breakout year with the Eagles.
He’ll also be looking for a bit of revenge against Coppin State. Last season, Cole recorded 10 points and 7 assists in North Carolina Central’s 71-60 loss to Coppin State in their only meeting of the year. Cole will be looking to exact some revenge on his former team.
Zeek Woodley – Northwestern State Demons
2015-16 Stats: 22.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.6 apg; 53.1% FG, 88.7% FT, 40.7% 3PT
For the second year in a row, Zeek Woodley will be the leader of the Northwestern State Demons on offense as Jalan West will miss an indefinite amount of time with another knee injury.
Simply put, Woodley is one of the premier scoring guards in the country. In each of the last two seasons, he has averaged 22.2 points per contest. In his collegiate career, he hasn’t finished a season with a shooting percentage lower than 53.1%.
In 2015-16, Woodley was a man on a mission. He scored in double-figures in all but one game for the Demons. Woodley recorded just 6 points on March 3rd against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. In 19 of those games, Woodley topped the 20-point plateau.
He’s a strong shooter from all over the floor. He possesses the athleticism to finish at the rim, and can step out and shoot the long ball with consistency. Without West, Woodley will be looked upon to lead the Demons in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament spot in 2016-17.
Christavious Gill – New Orleans Privateers
2015-16 Stats: 14.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.9 spg; 37.6% FG, 83.3% FT, 34.6% 3PT
Two weeks ago, we tabbed fellow New Orleans guard Jorge Rosa as one of the ten junior guards to watch in 2016-17. With Gill slotted here, the Privateers are a team on the rise, and you won’t want to miss them this season.
As a junior in 2015-16, Gill started all 30 games for New Orleans, and was named to the 3rd Team All-Southland at year’s end for his efforts. He was a consistent offensive threat for the Privateers all season long, scoring in double figures 24 times, but only scoring 20 or more on six occasions.
Gill led the team in several offensive categories, including points, points per game, field goals made, three point field goals made, steals, and minutes per game. As the leader of the team, his statistical performance should come as little to no surprise to basketball fans across the country.
As his career comes to an end in 2016-17, his veteran leadership could help groom Rosa into his predecessor with the Privateers. His impact on the season will be more than just statistics, and you can’t put a value on what Gill means to the program.
Five More to Keep an Eye On:
Jeremy Morgan – Northern Iowa Panthers
Tavon Blackmon – Brown Bears
Jaylen Babb-Harrison – Eastern Kentucky Colonels
Troyce Manassa – Savannah State Tigers
Pancake Thomas – Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
– T. Bennett