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Week of College Basketball Lists: 50 Best Players in the Country This Year

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Lists – they are a helluva thing. It’s the easiest thing to argue over. Why isn’t my team ranked higher? Why is this player better than that? It’s completely subjective yet you’ll use stats and numbers to prove someone wrong or right. It’s a beautiful thing.

So that’s what we’re doing this week. This is the college basketball preview using lists. We’ll look at the top-50 players in the country, the best coaches currently in the game, what non-conference games you need to pay attention to, among some other things. Going to try and break up the previews this season a little differently by adding things like this, if you want something specific, let me know @barstoolreags.

Top-50 Players: This is taking everything into account. This isn’t just NBA Draft prospects or anything like that. Just a pretty straight forward list of who I think the best players in the country will be this year.

1. Miles Bridges – Michigan State

Bridges is the only freshman in the 25 year history of sports-reference.com to put up 16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. Those are outrageous numbers. He’ll be used a couple different ways this year as Izzo can run him at the 3 or 4 spot depending what he wants his lineup to do. When he’s running the 4 spot it’s almost unfair at the college level. He’s too quick and athletic for other 4s and when he’s at the 3 he’s smart enough to look to post them up.

2. Jalen Brunson – Villanova

Brunson is my pick for NPOY and he was sneaky better than Josh Hart for most of Big East play last year. Last year he was 45th in the country in ORtg, 69th in effective FG%, 23rd in true shooting % and 157th in assist rate. That’s a pretty good starting point for a guy who averaged 15/4 last year as a secondary – sometimes third option – depending on how much Kris Jenkins felt like shooting. His total overall offense was graded as excellent, where he scored 1.106 points per possession, which was good for the 95th percentile nationally.

3. Michael Porter Jr. – Missouri

He has the height, a wingspan of 7’0? and can really shoot the ball. He’s absolutely excellent at attacking off the bounce to the midrange game with an excellent pull up from 15 feet out. He’s almost automatic from the free throw line as he shot 86% from there last year for his high school team and does a good job of getting to the line. He should put up pretty gaudy numbers this year.

4. Marvin Bagley – Duke

He’s an excellent athlete, known for dunking and blocking shots, but he has the ability to step out and shoot. I don’t think he’ll put up huge numbers this year simply due to Duke’s loaded roster, but Bagley is one of the best pure players in the game. He should be one of the best rebounders in the country.

5. Angel Delgado – Seton Hall 

Speaking of best rebounders in the country, Delgado is just that. He’s a walking double-double, who is every bit of a rebounder Swanigan was last year. Delgado put up 15/13 last year and you shouldn’t be surprised if that jumps up this year.

6. Allonzo Trier – Arizona

We all know Trier’s story from last year, so I just hope we get a full year of him this season. He’s going to be the go-to guy for Arizona on offense, something he thrives in. Last year when he came back from the suspension he averaged over 17 points per game and shot 39% from three.

7. Trevon Bluiett – Xavier

I firmly believe we’re going to see the Bluiett that we saw during the Big East and NCAA Tournaments last year. That’s when he was finally healthy and we saw him just absolutely destroy teams with his shooting and attacking off the bounce. Chris Mack will put him in situations on offense to take advantage of mismatches.

8. Bruce Brown – Miami

Bruce Brown is one of the guys that I’m just incredibly high on. Would I like him to be more consistent with his shot? Yes. But he can defend just about any guard in the country and will take dudes off the bounce. He’s a 6’3″ combo guard that averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds per game last year.

9. Grayson Allen – Duke 

I know, I know. It’s Grayson and he trips a bunch of people and freaks out of the bench. That said, he’s still a damn good basketball player. He was injured for the majority of last year and that’s why he struggled. Not the tripping or anything like that. He’s going to be a lot more comfortable this year moving back to off the ball and playing alongisde Trevon Duval.

10. Bonzie Colson – Notre Dame

If you can’t love a 6’5″ center, I don’t want to know you. The dude just churns out double-doubles while being one of the most unique mismatches in the country. I broke down how Brey likes to use him on offense, running him with shallow cuts up to the top of the key and letting him attack from there. Look for a lot of that this year.

11. Devonte’ Graham – Kansas

Playing in Self’s two point guard system, Graham was playing off the ball for the majority of his career. He now gets to move to the primary ball-handler and you’re going to see a huge jump in numbers. Graham averaged 13/4/3 last year playing alongside Frank Mason and Josh Jackson. He’s going to be the guy that Kansas turns to this year.

12. Jevon Carter – West Virginia

The reigning National Defensive Player of the Year, also turned out to be a pretty good offensive player. He upped his 3-point shooting last year to 39% and was the leading scorer at 13.5 per game. If he can continue to shoot like that, he’ll be an All-American.

13. Mike Daum – South Dakota State

If I told you he was the leading scorer to return to college basketball, would you believe me? What about if I told you he’s 6’9? and shot 42 percent from three? He’s a legit NBA prospect who put up 25 and 8 last year for South Dakota State.

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14. Jock Landale – St. Mary’s

Landale put up 17/9.5 last year while shooting 61% from the floor. He’s going to WCC Player of the Year. He’s one of the most efficient players in the country and knows how to run the pick-and-roll with Emmett Naar. It’s a good year for post players in the country this season.

15. DeAndre Ayton – Arizona

Ayton is one of your prototypical bigs in today’s game. He has a 7’6″ wingspan, is an excellent shot blocker and can step out to the 3-point line. However, he doesn’t float out there or force his shot. He still likes to operate in the post, where he can be a little more polished with his drop steps and hooks, but he plays within the game. With Trier extending the defense, Ayton should have a lot of room to operate.

16. Ethan Happ – Wisconsin

Happ is an interesting guy to me this year. I absolutely loved his game last year and pegged him as preseason Big 10 Player of the Year. Now this year I feel a little bit of a decline and that’s strictly due to who is surrounding him. Are they going to be able to stretch the floor to where Happ can work 1v1 in the post where he’s unbelievable? He’s a skilled defender and if he gets room on offense he’ll have another big year.

17. Yante Maten – Georgia

Yante Maten is a 6’8″ senior from Georgia who can absolutely go get buckets. He averaged over 18 a game last year with 49% shooting from the 3-point line (1.5 shots per game). He’s an excellent rebounder, especially on the offensive side of the ball as he had an offensive rebounding percentage of 10%. He’ll be a favorite for SEC Player of the Year.

18. Joel Berry – UNC

Joel Berry is going to be called upon to do a lot for UNC this year. He has to score the ball and be effective in coming off the high ball screen. Berry has been an excellent catch and shoot guy from deep during his career but now with UNC having to go small and running more of a space offense, Berry has to look to get his own. He’ll succeed with that.

19. Hami Diallo – Kentucky

Diallo almost became a none-and-done guy last year as he spent the second semester on Kentucky’s roster, practicing with the team though never playing in a game. He’s an extremely gifted athlete who can jump with anyone in the country. Question for him is going to be shooting, but he’ll thrive in the dribble-drive offense.

20. Landry Shamet – Wichita State

I wish Landry Shamet was healthy. He’s one of the best point guards in the country this year and is going to have a huge year. Shamet averaged over 11 a game last year but really broke out against Kentucky in the Round of 32 when he dropped 20. He can beat you in a variety of ways as he can really shoot the ball and take you off the bounce.

21. Collin Sexton – Alabama

He’s one of my favorite players in college basketball this year. He’s a 6’1? guard that can just go get buckets as he’s one of the best scorers in this freshman class. I think you see Avery Johnson let the Tide play more uptempo with Sexton joining the team now to play alongside Avery Johnson Jr., giving them a couple of ball-handlers. Watch out for him in open space.

22. Robert Williams – Texas A&M

Williams is coming off a year where he put up 12 points, 8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game as a freshman at Texas A&M. He finished 15th in the country with a 10.6% block rate and 38th in the country with a 13.6 offensive rebounding percentage. That shows he has excellent timing/jumping/ability to get into space. He’s extremely athletic and can truly jump out of the gym.

23. Mo Bamba – Texas

Bamba is going to make a difference on the defensive side of the ball right away. He has a 7’9″ wingspan and is a skilled shotblocker. He’s also agile enough to step out on guards and switch on ball screens if he has to. I’ll be curious to see how Texas uses him offensively as he dominated high school and AAU by just being so damn big and athletic.

24. Chime Metu – USC

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USC is absolutely loaded this year and Metu is the best of the bunch. The 6’11” junior put up 15 and 8 last year while also blocking 1.5 shots per game. He does an excellent job of drawing fouls and is extremely efficient with a 59.5 true shooting percentage.

25. Trevon Duval – Duke

Duval is the first true point guard that Duke has had since Tyus Jones. That said he’s a different sort of guard. He’ll play bully ball with you thanks to his 6’3″, 195lb body. He likes to attack off the bounce and overpower other guards while he’ll also set up teammates. If he can be better at making the simple pass he’ll be in the running for the best point guard in the country this year.

26. Troy Brown – Oregon

Another freshman on the list here, Brown is a wing that can fit in perfectly to Dana Altman’s offensive scheme. He’s going to remind some Oregon fans of Dillon Brooks in the sense that he can play multiple positions on offense and do a little bit of everything. He’s not the shooter that Brooks is, but can arguably be a better slasher.

27. Bennie Boatwright – USC

Boatwright is another guy that decided to come back for his junior year at USC. He’s a 6’11” wing player that attempted nearly seven 3’s per  game last year. He’s a decent shooter at 36% and scored over 15 per game last year.

28. Matt Farrell – Notre Dame

Every year Notre Dame has that breakout guard. It started with Jerian Grant then Demetrius Jackson and last year it was Farrell. He upped his shooting from 34 to 42% from the 3-point line last year and went from scoring 2.6 per game to 14 per game.

29. Kevin Knox – Kentucky

Knox is going to be a unique player this year in Kentucky’s dribble-drive. He’s a 6’9″ forward with a 6’11” wingspan, who is a good athlete that can finish above the rim. Kentucky will use him for their backdoor lobs that they like to run and he should be one of the better shooters on the team. If he’s a consistent shooter, he’ll possibly be a lottery pick.

30. Jacob Evans – Cincinnati 

Evans made a nice jump last year as a sophomore and this year he should be the star for Cincinnati. Last year he averaged 13.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in a slower tempo. If Cronin lets Cincinnati play uptempo he could be up towards 18 per game. Evans also upped his 3-point shooting from 33 to 41%.

31. Nick Ward – Michigan State

Nick Ward was a pleasant surprise for Michigan State last year. After getting decimated with injuries in the frontcourt, Ward stepped up as a freshman to average 14 and 6.5 rebounds per game. He’s a monster on the offensive glass as he was 2nd in the country with a 17.5 offensive rebounding percentage.

32. Shake Milton – SMU

Shake Milton is one of the best 3-point shooters in the country. During his first two years at SMU he’s averaged 42.4% from behind the line and is coming off a year where he averaged 13 points, 4.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. Arguably the best part of his game though? He doesn’t get in foul trouble. In terms of percentage of minutes played, he was 50th in the country.

33. Mo Wagner – Michigan

Another guy who took a major leap last year was Mo Wagner. As a freshman he played just 9 minutes a game and scored about a bucket per game. Last year? He played 24 minutes per game, putting up 12 points and 4 rebounds per game. He’s the perfect center in Beilein’s two-guard offense due to his ability to pass and step out and shoot the ball. He’ll be a focal point this year.

34. Jaylen Adams – St. Bonaventure 

Our guy Sam Vecenie put this out there. Adams put up 20.6 points, 6.5 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game last year on a 59.5 true-shooting percentage. He’s the only person in the last 25 years to put up those stats. His 35.4 assist rate last year was good for 17th in the country.

35. Justin Jackson – Maryland

Justin Jackson is going to be one of the guys to shoot up draft projections this year. He’s a 6’7″ sophomore who shot 44% from the 3-point line last year while putting up 10.5 points and 6 rebounds per game. With the offense expected to be more fluid this year and less ISO, Jackson could put up some pretty impressive numbers during his second year.

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36. Kelan Martin – Butler

Kelan Martin is an interesting guy. He’s the best talent on Butler but at times can get in his own head and play himself out of a game. That said he still put up 16 and 6 per game last year and as a senior should have more wiggle room under a first year head coach. At 6’7″ with a high usage rate he’s excellent at taking care of the ball, ranking in the top-450 nationally with a low turnover rate.

37. Rob Gray – Houston

If Houston gets to the NCAA Tournament this year it will be because of Rob Gray. He does a little bit of everything, but is an extremely good scorer, which is why coaches around the conference will tell you he’s the toughest to defend. Last year he averaged over 20 a game while shooting 38% from the 3-point line. Despite having a ridiculous usage rate, he only turns the ball over 13.6% of the time, which is 363rd best in the country.

38. Jeffrey Carroll – Oklahoma State

Carroll decided to come back for his senior year where he’ll be the go-to option for Oklahoma State without Jawun Evans or Brad Underwood coaching there. Carroll averaged 17.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game last year. His 130.4 ORtg last year was good for 12th in the country.

39. Reid Travis – Stanford

Reid Travis isn’t going to get a lot of love because he’s played for a bad Stanford team, but he’s one of the best players in the country. He averaged 17.5 points and 9 rebounds per game last year. He ranked 51st in the country in offensive rebounding percentage, but he really excels at drawing fouls. He drew over 6 fouls per game, which was the 55th best in the country.

40. Bryant McIntosh – Northwestern

McIntosh has been the steady hand at point guard for Northwestern for three years now. During his career he’s averaged 13.3 points per game and has upped his average every year. He’s an excellent passer ranking 40th in the assist rate last year. His one concern is shooting, where his 3-point average dropped to 30% last year. If he can get that back up to 35%, he’ll climb a couple spots here.

41. Johnathan Williams – Gonzaga

The Missouri transfer excelled during his first year playing under Mark Few. He averaged over 10 points and 6 rebounds per game and was used where his strengths let him dominate. He was able to take guys off the dribble to get in position in the post and use his little lefty hook shot. When people gave him space he shot 40% from the 3-point line.

42. Khadeen Carrington – Seton Hall

Carrington moves to the lead ball guard spot this year with Madison Jones graduating. While he may not be known as your typical point, he fills that combo role pretty well. He played point in high school and AAU ball so he knows the position. He averaged 17 points per game last year to lead Seton Hall.

43. Donte DiVicenzo – Villanova

I know that I’ll get some push back about DiVicenzo on the list over Mikal Bridges, but DiVicenzo is going to be an absolute star. It wouldn’t shock me if he ends up leading Villanova in scoring this year, especially if teams try to take away Jalen Brunson. He’s a guy that can beat you shooting the ball (36.5% last year) or take you off the bounce. He averaged 12ppg after February 1st, including 20+ point outbursts in the first rounds of the Big East and NCAA Tournament.

44. JP Macura – Xavier

Macura had a nice jump last year when he became a starter and really the second option after Sumner got injured. He put up 14.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while ranking in the top-500 nationally in ORtg. At 6’5″ he has the ability to play both on and off the ball in Mack’s system.

45. Aaron Holiday – UCLA

Holiday will get back to the starting lineup this year with the departures of Bryce Alford and Lonzo Ball. Despite being the 6th man last year he was still very effective averaging 12 points and 4 assists per game. Look for him to be used both on and off the ball again this year with Jaylen Hands joining the Bruins.

46. Bryant Crawford – Wake Forest

I absolutely love Bryant Crawford’s game. He’s a guy who is an absolute star and can play anywhere in the country. Last year he averaged 16.2 points and 5.5 assists per game playing with John Collins. He ranked 42nd in the country with a 32.2 assist rate. More importantly he upped his FT percentage from 68% to 83%.

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47. Tyler Hall – Montana State

The best mid-major player that no one is talking about is Tyler Hall. As a sophomore he averaged 23 points and 5 rebounds per game while shooting 43% from the 3-point line. The 6’5″ guard took 30% of the shots this season for Montana State with a 63.6 true shooting percentage, good for 52nd in the country. He’ll be in the running for the leading scorer in the country this year.

48. Nate Mason – Minnesota

Nate Mason is a large reason as to why Minnesota made the NCAA Tournament last year and why they are a top-20 team this year. He averaged 15.2 points and 5 assists per game last season. He was able to raise his 3-point shooting from 30 to 36%, but had a true shooting percentage of just 49.4%.

49. Vince Edwards – Purdue

To me, Edwards was the second best player on Purdue last year and needs to be the best player this year for the Boilermakers. The 6’8″ senior is a unique mismatch due to his ability to shoot (42% from the 3-point line) and defend/rebound at multiple positions. He was 4th in the Big 10 last year with a 124.2 ORtg.

50. Wendell Carter – Duke 

The 4th Duke player to make the list, Carter is a guy that will let Duke play 4-out, 1-in on offense if they want. He’s a great rebounder and is very polished with his post moves. At 6’10” he has the size to play a true post position and can extend with midrange jumpers and turnaroudns in the post.