College Basketball 2012-13: Top 12 Rising Senior Guards
Ask most coaches how important it is to have a steady, experienced backcourt and they will most likely respond in unison, "Very Important."
Here is a quick look at the 12 best rising senior guards.
Some of these excellent players made the decision to forgo the 2012 NBA Draft to return to campus.
All of them will play significant roles in their teams' success in the coming 2012-13 season.
12. Jordan Hulls: Indiana
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Jordan Hulls may be one of the best pure shooters returning in college basketball.
This past year, Hulls hit 49.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc (No. 6 in the country) and 52.1 percent inside the arc.
Along with averaging 11.5 PPG, he led the Hoosiers in assists (3.2) while pulling down 2.4 boards per game.
Though Hulls is IU's third leading scorer, his (and Christian Watford's) ability to spread the floor is a crucial part of opening up the middle for Cody Zeller to operate.
11. Anthony Marshall: UNLV
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If Anthony Marshall continues to improve like he has in each of his first three seasons at UNLV, the Rebels are going to be one of the best teams in the West in 2012-13.
Marshall did a little bit of everything this past season, averaging 12.2 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 4.5 APG.
At 6'3" 200 pounds, Marshall overpowers many of his backcourt opponents. He also has no problem getting to the rim.
If he can develop more consistency from beyond the arc (he only hit 25.6 percent on the year), he will be a lethal part of the Rebels' run through the MWC and in 2013 March Madness.
10. Rodney McGruder: Kansas State
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Bruce Weber is fortunate to have a player like Rodney McGruder on the Wildcats' roster in his first year as the K-State head coach.
McGruder was not only KSU's leading scorer (15.8 PPG) in 2011-12, but he also became their leader on the floor.
His no-nonsense demeanor helps the Wildcats stay focused in a league where they do not possess the most talent.
McGruder, who was a second-team All-Big 12 selection this year, could be one of the standout players in the conference next season.
9. Tim Frazier: Penn State
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Because Penn State basketball has not been very competitive (last in the Big Ten in 2011-12), most college basketball fans don't know much about Tim Frazier.
However, Frazier was named first-team All-Big Ten by the conference media, and second team by the league's coaches.
He was also named to the coaches' All-Defensive team.
In Frazier's breakthrough junior season, the 6'1" dynamo led the Nittany Lions in scoring (18.8 PPG), rebounding (4.7 RPG), assists (6.2 APG) and steals (2.4 SPG — No. 15 in the nation).
Even if Penn State lingers in the league basement, Frazier will be one of the best players in the Big Ten in 2012-13.
8. Vincent Council: Providence
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Because Vincent Council plays for Providence (15-17; 15th place in the conference), many people, even ones that follow Big East basketball, don't know much about this top-level guard.
As a junior, Council was selected as third-team All-Big East, leading PC in scoring (15.9 PPG) and assists (7.5 APG—No. 4 in the nation).
He and the Friars should be primed for a big 2012-13 season.
A pass-first point guard who excels in the open court, the Brooklyn native will be surrounded by a variety of scorers next season.
Virtually everyone returns from this year's team, plus McDonald's All-American Kris Dunn and Jordan Brand All-American Ricardo Ledo will add further scoring punch.
With Council back at the controls, the Friars may be one of the most improved teams in the nation.
7. Michael Dixon: Missouri
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Michael Dixon may have been one of the best sixth men in 2011-12 college basketball.
Though he wasn't on the floor for the opening tip of any of Mizzou's games, Dixon was still the Tigers' fourth-leading scorer (13.3 PPG) and second-leading assist man (3.3 APG).
Dixon has a score-first, instant-offense mentality that helps him make things happen when he checks in the game.
With Marcus Denmon and Kim English graduating, Dixon may be a star on the national scene in 2012-13.
6. Kenny Boynton: Florida
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Kenny Boynton can fill it up. He led Florida in 2011-12 averaging 16.3 PPG.
Going into his senior season in Gainsville, Boynton has already dropped in 1,589 points. He is just 502 points shy of becoming the school's all-time leading scorer.
He has made 262 three-pointers since becoming a Gator.
Next year should be no different.
With Erving Walker graduated and Bradley Beal likely moving on to the NBA, Boynton will have an even more central role in the 2012-13 UF attack.
5. Peyton Siva: Louisville
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When it comes to down-and-dirty PGs, Peyton Siva's name should be at the top of the list.
Siva's numbers may not be eye-popping (9.1 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.6 APG), but the 6'0" PG just seems to get things done.
He is a big reason why the Cardinals won the Big East Tournament and were a 2012 Final Four participant.
Siva was named the Big East Tournament MVP after averaging 13.8 points in the Cardinals' four Big East tournament games.
With much of their roster returning for the 2012-13 season, Siva's leadership could be what helps Louisville make another run to the Final Four.
4. Michael Snaer: Florida State
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Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski paid Michael Snaer a compliment when he called him "the best competitor in the ACC."
It's not a surprise that Coach K would think this since Snaer scored 48 points in three games against the Duke this season, including the last second dagger that beat the Blue Devils at Cameron.
This past season, Snaer (6'5" 202 lbs) led the 'Noles in scoring with 14.0 PPG, shot a team best 40.4 percent from beyond the arc and came in second in assists with 2.0 APG.
Snaer was selected for the ACC All-Rookie team as a freshman, and was named to the conference's All-Defense Team as a junior.
As a senior, look for Snaer to elevate his game and use his leadership to elevate Florida State to compete for the ACC title.
3. Isaiah Canaan: Murray State
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Isaiah Canaan's decision to return for his senior season is fantastic news for the Murray State basketball program.
Even though Canaan has already accomplished a lot in his first three years at Murray State, the best may be yet to come.
If that's true, it's a great time to be a Racer fan.
Canaan was a second-team 2012 AP All-American and has won three regular-season Ohio Valley Conference titles to along with two tournament titles.
As a junior, Canaan led MSU in scoring (19.2 PPG) and assists (3.6 APG).
He shot 46.8 percent from the floor, 83.7 percent from the line and 45.6 percent (No. 19 in the country) from beyond the arc.
While it may be difficult for Murray State to duplicate their 31-2 record from 2011-12, look for the Racers to challenge again for the Ohio Valley Conference title.
2. Pierre Jackson: Baylor
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Pierre Jackson is a fantastic example of how great things can come in small packages.
The 5'10" guard from Vegas was a key component to Baylor's run to the 2012 Elite Eight.
As a junior, Jackson led the Bears in scoring (13.8 PPG), assists (5.9 APG) and steals (1.8 SPG).
Tallying 223 assists in his first year (after transferring from College of Southern Idaho junior college), Jackson became the second player in Baylor school history to hand out over 200 assists in a single season.
Former Kansas State head coach (now head coach at South Carolina) Frank Martin said this about Jackson:
"He’s electric. He makes plays on both ends of the court that change games. In our scouting report, we always put that he is the head of the monster. He is the guy that makes their team go.... You try to limit his steals on defense and his penetration on offense. But that’s not easy. He’s fun to watch but not fun to play against."
Jackson's production and leadership will be just as important in the 2012-13 season. The Bears lost among others Quincy Acy (to graduation) and Perry Jones III (to the NBA Draft), but return a talented core plus another top-notch recruiting class.
1. C.J. McCollum: Lehigh
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C.J. McCollum may not have been a household name in college basketball before Lehigh beat Duke in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
But when you drop 30 on the Blue Devils on the way to helping your team make history, things change.
Make no mistake about it. McCollum is more than just a one-night wonder.
The two-time Patriot League Player of the Year averaged 21.9 points this season, ranking fifth in the nation in scoring. He also grabbed 6.5 rebounds, dished out 3.5 assists and ranked fifth nationally with 2.6 steals per game.
Because McCollum decided to return for his senior season, he will be one of the best guards in the country and could help his team make more history in March Madness 2013.