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.**
Tahjere McCall – Tennessee State Tigers
2015-16 Stats: 14.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.3 spg; 45.5% FG, 75.6% FT, 27.8% 3PT
After transferring from the Niagara Purple Eagles, and sitting out the 2014-15 season due to transfer regulations, it didn’t take long for Tahjere McCall to make a name for himself at Tennessee State.
In his first season with the Tigers, McCall racked up a school record 72 steals, and finished 9th in the nation with 2.32 steals per contest. He took home the title of Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, and earned a spot on the 1st Team All-OVC for his efforts.
McCall quickly established himself as one of the premier defenders in the country, but he also has a strong offensive game to add another dimension to his game. His 14.6 points per game were good for second-best on the team, while playing less than 30 minutes per night on average.
He is a consistent offensive threat, scoring in double-figures in 20 of his 31 games last season. McCall topped the 30-point plateau on two occasions, showing he has the ability to change the game on both ends of the floor.
Damon Lynn – NJIT Highlanders
2015-16 Stats: 18.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.6 spg; 37.4% FG, 83.2% FT, 33.1% 3PT
Some would argue that Damon Lynn is already a household name. While we don’t disagree with that statement, we feel that more people need to become aware of his talents on the hardwood, as he is set to become the best scorer in NJIT history.
Lynn enters the 2016-17 season needing just five points to become the all-time leading scorer in Highlanders’ history. The current mark is 1,724 points, set by Chris Flores. Lynn has scored at least 500 points in each of his three seasons at NJIT, and his 642 points last season broke his own single-season record, which he set in 2014-15.
Over his career, Lynn has started all 99 games, playing in 90% of the total minutes in those games, according to the NJIT website.
While he has had a stellar career at NJIT thus far, he didn’t record his first career double-double until January 16th, 2016. Against the Stetson Hatters, Lynn recorded 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Earlier this off-season, we ranked Lynn as the 97th-best player in all of college basketball.
Marcus Romain – Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
2015-16 Stats: 18.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg, 1.1 spg; 43.8% FG, 76.0% FT, 34.1% 3PT
Despite the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils finishing with a record of 8-27 overall, and 6-12 in conference play, guard Marcus Romain established himself as one of the premier players in the Southwestern Athletic Conference.
In his NCAA debut against the BYU Cougars, Romain got off to a slow(ish) start, recording 9 points in 17 minutes of action on 3-of-10 shooting from the field. Little did we know at the time, but Romain was just getting warmed up.
He finished the year by scoring in double-figures in the team’s final 9 games, and 14 of the last 15 overall. He put together 25 games of double-digit scoring. Over his final nine games, he upped his point per game average to an impressive 24.9.
Romain is a strong shooter from all over the floor, hitting 34.1% of his three point attempts over the course of the season, and 43.8% from the floor.
The rest of the SWAC have taken notice of his talents, as Romain was named to the Pre-season All-SWAC First Team.
Alec Wintering – Portland Pilots
2015-16 Stats: 18.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.5 spg; 44.4% FG, 78.0% FT, 39.8% 3PT
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Portland’s Alec Wintering is arguably the most underrated guard in the nation, let alone the West Coast Conference.
Over his career with the Pilots, Wintering has been as steady as they come. He has averaged at least 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game in each of his three seasons. Last season, he started in all 32 games for Portland, averaging a team-best 18.3 points and 4.9 assists per game.
He scored in double figures in 26 of those 32 games. From December 23rd to February 20th, a stretch of 15 games, Wintering scored in double-figures in each game. Over those 15 contests, he scored 30 or more three times.
Wintering came in at #76 on our list of the Top 100 Players in College Basketball for the 2016-17 Season, and if he continues his strong play as a senior, he’ll be a sleeper for WCC Player of the Year and could very well move up the list by the end of the year.
Jason McManamen – Wyoming Cowboys
2015-16 Stats: 14.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.5 apg; 46.4% FG, 75.9% FT, 44.7% 3PT
For the second year in a row, there’s a changing of the guard for the Wyoming Cowboys. Last year, Josh Adams became the lead man after star forward Larry Nance, Jr. moved onto the NBA. This season, senior guard Jason McManamen will assume the lead role on offense with Adams having graudated.
McManamen established himself as one of the nation’s top three point shooters in 2015-16. He finished the year with a shooting percentage of 44.7% from beyond the arc, a number that was good for second-best in the Mountain West Conference, and 15th in the nation.
Over the course of the year, McManamen connected on 92 three pointers, which ranks at the third-best single-season mark in Wyoming history. His 14.4 points per game were second-best, trailing only the departed Adams.
This season, with Adams gone, McManamen becomes the go-to guy on offense for the Cowboys. It’s another transition year for the program, but with McManamen leading the way, Wyoming will remain competitive in the race for the Mountain West crown.
QJ Peterson – VMI Keydets
2015-16 Stats: 19.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.4 spg; 40.5% FG, 90.5% FT, 36.1% 3PT
From February 22nd to 28th last season, QJ Peterson averaged 36 points and 10 rebounds in the Keydets’ two games, landing College Court Report Player of the Week honours and showing everyone why he’s one of the nation’s top players.
During that week, he scored a season-high 46 points against the Mercer Bears, making 17-of-18 free throw attempts in the game.
Following the 2015-16 season, he declared for the 2016 NBA Draft, taking advantage of the new early-entry rules. In the end, he opted to return to school, and will be among the country’s leading scorers as a senior.
In each of his three years at VMI, Peterson has averaged at least 19.0 points per game. This past season, his 19.8 points per game were tops in the Southern Conference, landing him on the All-SoCon First Team at year’s end.
Peterson scored in double-figures in all but three games last season, showing why he’s one of the most consistent and offensively-gifted players in the country.
He’s widely considered as the front-runner for Southern Conference Player of the Year, and for good reason.
Eric Garcia – Wofford Terriers
2015-16 Stats: 10.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.8 apg; 42.1% FG, 78.4% FT. 42.2% 3PT
While his numbers won’t jump off the page and blow you away, Eric Garcia has put together quite the career at Wofford, and he’s back for one more kick at the can in 2016-17.
During his tenure with the Terriers, the program has made two NCAA Tournament appearances, in 2014 and 2015. Garcia will be looking to lead the program to a third appearance before he graduates.
Last season, Garcia averaged 10.3 points per contest, which was good for fourth on the team. Where he makes his mark, however, is in terms of ball security. He had a 3.26 assist-to-turnover ratio in 2015-16, which led the conference and ranked 10th in the nation.
Having a reliable ball handler in the back court is a huge asset for any program, and the Terriers have one of the best in the nation. Garcia averaged 4.8 assists per contest, putting together 15 games of 5 or more assists.
On February 13th, against The Citadel Bulldogs, Garcia recorded a career-high 11 assists, becoming the first Wofford player since Jason Dawson in 2009 to record 11 assists.
TJ Cromer – East Tennessee State Buccaneers
2015-16 Stats: 14.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.0 spg; 43.2% FG, 79.7% FT, 36.5% 3PT
Before coming to East Tennessee State, TJ Cromer had himself quite the two years at Columbia State, averaging 19.9 points per contest over his two seasons.
When he stepped on the floor for the Buccaneers, he wasted little time making an impact. Against Averett College on on November 14th, Cromer recorded 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor. Cromer would go on to record seven straight games with double-digit points to open his Division I career.
At year’s end, Cromer had 32 games of double-digit scoring on his record, and he averaged 14.9 points per contest over the year. For his efforts, he was named to the First Team All-Southern Conference by the Coaches, and to the Second Team by members of the media.
Cromer showcased his shooting range last season, connecting on 36.5% of his attempts from beyond the three point arc. He connected on at least one three pointer in 28 games, while making multiple in 23 of those contests.
At this year’s ‘Bluenanza’, Cromer wasted little time in showing that his shooting range was in mid-season form. He connected on a half-court shot to give another East Tennessee State student free tuition, right after teammate Devontavius Payne did the same.
Dedrick Basile – Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners
2015-16 Stats: 12.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.8 spg; 46.9% FG, 72.4% FT, 36.2% 3PT
When looking back at the 2015-16 season, most will remember Dedrick Basile for hitting this shot that sent the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners to the NCAA Tournament.
But, Basile was one of the WAC’s top performers all season long. The buzzer-beater was the culmination of his hard work during the regular season, his first at the Division I level.
He led the team in scoring on six occasions, and in assists 14 times, en route to averaging 12.0 points and 3.7 assists per game. He also added 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest. For his efforts, he was named to the All-WAC Second Team, the All-WAC Newcomer Team, and was named the WAC Defensive Player of the Year.
During the WAC Tournament, he upped his scoring slightly, averaging 12.3 points per game. It was all capped off by three at the buzzer to send the Roadrunners to the 57-54 win over the New Mexico State Aggies, and off to the NCAA Tournament.
What will the reigning WAC Tournament MVP have in store for his senior season?
Charles Cooper – Green Bay Phoenix
2015-16 Stats: 13.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg; 47.1% FG, 69.0% FT, 22.2% 3PT
With the Green Bay Phoenix losing several key contributors from a season ago, including Carrington Love and Jordan Fouse, senior guard Charles Cooper will look to take on a bigger role in 2016-17.
Last season, Cooper made an impact in his first game with the Phoenix after transferring from Kaskaskia College. On the road against the Stanford Cardinal, Cooper recorded 19 points and 6 rebounds in Green Bay’s 93 – 89 overtime loss.
Cooper started all 36 games for the Phoenix, finishing second on the team in scoring with an average of 13.6 points per contest. He also finished second on the team in terms of rebounding, averaging 5.5 boards per contest.
He only recorded 1 double-double on the year, which came on February 26th against the UIC Flames. Cooper scored 20 points and puleld down 10 rebound in the Phoenix’s 85 – 69 road victory. However, he flirted with several other double-doubles, falling a couple of rebounds short on multiple occasions.
Cooper has double-double potential each time he steps on the floor. At 6’4” and 220 pounds, he brings size and strength to the back court for the Phoenix. His versatility allows for the coaching staff to use him in different lineups and formations, creating different looks for the team on both ends of the floor.
Five More to Keep an Eye On:
JeQuan Lewis – VCU Rams
DeWayne Russell – Grand Canyon Antelopes
Kendrick Ray – Kennesaw State Owls
Paris Lee – Illinois State Redbirds
Dequon Miller – Missouri State Bears
– T. Bennett