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.**
Keon Johnson – Winthrop Eagles
2015-16 Stats: 18.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.5 apg; 45.2% FG, 83.3% FT, 39.4% 3PT
While he stands at just 5’7” and 160 pounds, Keon Johnson makes up for his ‘lack of size’ with some of the best talent in the country.
If you’re looking for one of the most consistent scorers in the country, look no further than Winthrop’s senior leader. Last season as a junior, Johnson scored in double figures in 31 of 32 games, en route to averaging 18.7 points per contest. During conference play, he upped his production to 20.2 points per game, good for the second-best mark in the Big South during that span.
For his efforts, he was named to the All Big South First Team, and finished runner-up in the voting for Big South Player of the Year.
With his shooting effectiveness from all areas on the floor, Johnson has climbed the ranks in terms of scoring at Winthrop with each passing year. He became just the 23rd player in school history to top the 1,000 point mark for his career last season, and he did so in just 79 games.
The preseason Big South Player of the Year will look to lead the Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in his final year at Winthrop.
James Daniel III – Howard Bison
2015-16 Stats: 27.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.1 spg; 38.8% FG, 84.6% FT, 33.2% 3PT
One of the few players who you could make a stronger case for in terms of being the nation’s most consistent scorer is the man who led the country in scoring a year ago.
Howard’s James Daniel III was the top scorer in the NCAA, averaging 27.1 points per contest. What’s even more impressive is how consistent he was on the offensive end of the floor. In all 30 games that Daniel appeared in, he scored no less than 15 points in each of them. He scored 30 or more points in nine games, including four of the first six to open the year.
Ever since he put on a Howard jersey, Daniel has been a top-tier scorer in the NCAA. He has averaged at least 16.1 points per game in each of his three seasons with the Bison, averaging more than 20 points per game as both a freshman and junior.
With forward Marcel Boyd drawing attention in the front court in 2016-17, James Daniel III will look to build off of last year’s stellar season, all while trying to lead the Bison to a MEAC title and a spot in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Garret Covington – Western Illinois Leathernecks
2015-16 Stats: 17.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.0 apg; 44.4% FG, 79.3% FT, 42.3% 3PT
In 2015-16, Garret Covington and the rest of the Western Illinois Leathernecks wasted little time in making a statement. In their season opener against the then-#17 Wisconsin Badgers. Covington recorded 16 points and 3 assists in the Leathernecks’ 69-67 upset on the road.
That was the start of things to come for Covington throughout the campaign. He was one of just two players to start all 27 games for the Leathernecks, and he led the team in scoring with an average of 17.9 points per contest.
Covington scored in double-figures in 26 of the team’s 27 contests. He scored a season-high 26 points on a pair of occasions. In the one game he failed to score in double figures, Covington put up 9 points.
He finished fourth in the Summit League in scoring, and earned Second Team All-Summit League honours for his efforts.
His shooting ability from three point range is a weapon that any coach would love to have. It allows for the coaching staff to create unique offensive sets to get him open anywhere on the perimeter. It also forces defenses to keep a close eye on Covington when he’s on the floor, which will open up opportunities for others to score.
Gian Clavell – Colorado State Rams
2015-16 Stats: 20.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.2 apg; 45.5% FG, 75.4% FT, 42.2% 3PT
Colorado State fans were left wondering ‘what could have been‘ at the end of the 2015-16 season.
To kick things off, junior guard Gian Clavell was playing some of the best basketball in the entire nation. In the team’s first 10 games, Clavell scored in double figures in each of them, and topped the 20-point mark in six of them. In the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic finals, Clavell scored a career-high 35 points against the UTEP Miners.
Clavell looked well on his way to being a front-runner for the Mountain West Player of the Year award. But, what goes up, must come down, and Clavell’s season came to a screeching hault. He suffered a season-ending injury in practice on December 17th, derailing the season for the Rams in the process.
But, fast-forward to the start of the 2016-17 season, and Clavell is looking to make up for lost time. The redshirt-senior is ready to make amends for last season, and if he can stay healthy, should be considered a legitimate threat to take home conference player of the year honours.
Jared Brownridge – Santa Clara Broncos
2015-16 Stats: 20.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.3 apg; 39.7% FG, 83.2% FT, 38.6% 3PT
Last week, we touched on Alec Wintering being one of the most underrated guards in the country. The same case could be made for fellow West Coast Conference guard Jared Brownridge, who has been one of the top scorers in the country over the past two seasons at Santa Clara.
In each of his three seasons with the Broncos, Brownridge has started all 95 games. He has averaged at least 15.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game in each season.
This past year, he put up a career-high 20.6 points per game, a mark that was good for second-best in the WCC, and 25th-best nationally. Brownridge scored in double-figures in the team’s final 21 games.
He was one of just four players in the country to rank in the top 50 in both free throws made (41st; 150) and three pointers made (24th; 88). The others were Josh Adams (Wyoming Cowboys), Stefan Moody (Ole Miss Rebels), and Elijah Brown (New Mexico Lobos).
Braylon Rayson – Central Michigan Chippewas
2015-16 Stats: 16.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.7 apg; 41.8% FG, 82.3% FT, 38.4% 3PT
Chris Fowler. Rayshawn Simmons. John Simons. All three of these players graduated from Central Michigan following the 2015-16 season. When a program loses that kind of firepower, it’s extremely tough to overcome that in the following season.
Luckily for the Chippewas, guard Braylon Rayson is back to lead the way, and he will look to keep the team in the thick of things in the race for the MAC title.
In 2015-16, Rayson started every game he appeared in (32). He finished second on the team in scoring, averaging 16.3 points per contest. He was arguably the team’s most consistent scorer over the course of the year, as he led the team with 28 games with double-figure points.
He became the 31st player in school history to top the 1,000-point mark last season. At year’s end, Rayson was in 16th place on the all-time scoring list with 1,206 career points in a Chippewas’ uniform.
For his efforts, Rayson was named to the All-MAC Third Team. As the go-to option on offense for the Chippewas this season, expect big things from the native of Dallas, Texas.
Aaric Armstead – Northern Illinois Huskies
2015-16 Stats: 10.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg; 37.4% FG, 66.9% FT, 31.1% 3PT
The second of two MAC guards on this list makes his impact on the defensive end of the court, but he still has a strong offensive game to make him an all-around threat.
Northern Illinois’ Aaric Armstead was named to the All-MAC Defensive Team last year, after averaging 5.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per contest. He also chipped in with 10.9 points and 1.2 assists per game.
Armstead scored in double figures on 21 occasions, and pulled down at least seven rebounds 13 times. He added four double-double performances over the course of theseason.
During conference play, he upped his scoring production slightly, averaging 11.7 points per contest ove that span. He finished fourth on the team in scoring at year’s end, and was one of just two Huskies to start all 34 games in 2016-17.
Tre’ Coggins – Cal State Fullerton Titans
2015-16 Stats: 15.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.8 apg; 39.4% FG, 85.3% FT, 35.7% 3PT
After transferring to Cal State Fullerton from the Air Force Falcons, and sitting out the 2014-15 year due to transfer regulations, Tre’ Coggins wasted little time having an impact with the Titans.
Coggins led the Titans in scoring as a junior, averaging 15.6 points per contest. He finished fifth in the Big West Conference in scoring, and earned an All-Big West Honourable Mention for his performances throughout the year.
He scored in double figures on 20 occasions, and led the team in scoring 12 times. Against conference opponents, Coggins upped his production to 16.0 points per contest, and he shot an impressive 89.7% from the free throw line over that span.
His marquee game came against the Cal State Northridge Matadors on January 9th. Coggins scored 41 points, and finished the game a perfect 17-of-17 from the free throw line on the night. His 41 points were tied for the second-best single-game mark in school history, while his perfect night at the free throw line was the best in Titans’ history.
Casey Jones – Chattanooga Mocs
2015-16 Stats: 12.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.1 bpg; 49.4% FG, 72.7% FT, 27.3% 3PT
The 2015-16 Preseason Southern Conference Player of the Year had his season cut short, much like Gian Clavell did at Colorado State.
After just eight games, Casey Jones suffered a season-ending ankle injury in practice, bring an end to what was a promising 2015-16 season for the junior guard. He received a medical redshirt for missing the season.
At the time of his injury, Jones was leading the Mocs in scoring (12.6 ppg), rebounds (6.5 rpg), and assists (3.9 apg). He scored in double figures in six of the eight games he appeared in, and opened the year by scoring a season-high 23 points in Chattanooga’s overtime win over the Georgia Bulldogs.
Without Jones, the Mocs won 29 games and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. With Jones back in the mix, along with the core of last year’s team, another 29-win season isn’t out of the question.
Adding another weapon back to the mix is scary for the rest of the Southern Conference, and the nation as a whole.
Nick Lindner – Lafayette Leopards
2015-16 Stats: 13.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.0 apg; 37.7% FG, 75.0% FT, 32.8% 3PT
Nick Lindner is described by many as a ‘point guard first’, who can set up his teammates for high percentage looks at the basket with his quickness and court vision. However, he has the ability to take over games with his scoring abilities, making him a dual-threat point guard for the Lafayette Leopards.
Take the first two games of last season, for example. Lindner burst out of the gate, scoring a season-high 27 points in the team’s season opener aganst the George Washington Colonials. He followed that up with 22 points two nights later against the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, earning Patriot League Player of the Week honours in the process.
Lindner started att 29 games that he appeared in last season. He tied for the team lead in scoring with 13.3 points per contest.
His ‘point guard first’ mentality was on display all throughout the season. He recorded at least three assists in 22 games. His ability to find open teammates for higher quality looks at the basket is something that you can’t put a price on.
Lindner has the abiltiy to impact games in several different ways, which will bode well for Lafayette during the 2016-17 campaign.
Five More to Keep an Eye On:
Chris Flemmings – UNC-Wilmington Seahawks
Martez Harrison – UMKC Roos
Elijah Wilson – Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
Milton Doyle – Loyola (IL) Ramblers
Trelun Banks – Southern Univ. Jaguars
– T. Bennett