Zach Hayes is an RTC editor, contributor and bracketologist.
The AP has weighed in with their preseason All-American teams. Now it’s our turn at Rush the Court to identify the 15 players on three top teams that will dominate the headlines in college basketball in 2010-11. From seasoned seniors to impact freshmen, our teams are littered with names prepared to fill up the box scores, carry their teams to unforeseen heights and enter the annals of the sport’s history. Through a simple voting process among the powers-that-be here at RTC, these are the 15 players we identified as the class of college hoops this upcoming season:
Singler is the easy choice for preseason RTC POY
G- Jacob Pullen, Kansas State, Sr. (19.3 PPG, 3.4 APG, 1.8 SPG, 42% FG, 82% FT, 40% 3pt) – Behind pinpoint shooting and a beard that took on cult status by the end of his breakout junior season, Pullen established himself as one of the best off-guards in the country scoring the basketball. With former backcourt mate Denis Clemente no longer in Manhattan, Pullen must pull double duty, continuing his scoring prowess while also balancing the responsibility of distributing to an array of talented big men. Pullen is a candidate to lead the Big 12 in scoring and propel his Wildcats to a Final Four berth.
G- Jimmer Fredette, BYU, Sr. (22.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.1 RPG, 46% FG, 89% FT, 44% 3pt) – One of the more crafty scorers in college basketball, Fredette operates with such smoothness and efficiency, it’s almost impossible to prevent him from finding a spot on the floor to put points on the board. Fredette is one of the highest-usage players in the nation, ranking at the top in assist rate, fouls drawn per 40 minutes, offensive rating and percentage of shots taken. He’s the early favorite to lead the nation in scoring during a senior season that the Cougars hope takes them into the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
F- Kyle Singler, Duke, Sr. (17.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.4 APG, 42% FG, 80% FT, 40% 3pt) – The AP and RTC both agreed on this point — Kyle Singler is the preseason national player of the year. Fresh off of garnering MOP of the Final Four and leading Duke to their first title since 2001, Singler passed on a near-certain first round selection to experience all the goodness of a senior season on a #1-ranked team. Singler is a versatile and skilled forward that can operate around the perimeter or get dirty inside. He’s the MVP of the best team in the country.
F- Harrison Barnes, North Carolina, Fr. (ranked #1 overall in 2010 ESPNU100) – How good can Harrison Barnes be? Here’s two clues: 1) he is the first freshman EVER to earn AP All-American status in the preseason; and 2) he’s projected by nearly every NBA Draft prognosticator to be chosen #1 overall in June 2011. Barnes could be the best newcomer to college hoops since Kevin Durant. He excels in the mid-range, rebounds, possesses an otherworldly basketball IQ for an 18-year old and makes his teammates better. Simply, he’s the savior for Carolina.
F- JaJuan Johnson, Purdue, Sr. (15.5 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 2.1 BPG, 51% FG, 72% FT) – Johnson isn’t necessarily a dominating big man. In fact, he’s battled some inconsistencies during his time at Purdue. Still, he earned this spot based on what most project as a ceiling that keeps getting higher. He displayed that skill in the NCAA Tournament and is a defensive presence that can also score from the mid-range or paint. Johnson should pile up the double-doubles for a Purdue squad that needs him to be a constant force in 2010-11.
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