College Basketball: 2012-13 Top 5 Defensive Players in CBB
Being a scorer is at the top of the college basketball food chain.
Most of the notoriety given to CBB players comes from "putting the ball in the hole."
But the following players have made names for themselves at the other end of the court.
Each of them was selected for the 2012 Lefty Driesell Defensive All-American Team, and are coming back to impact games by applying pressure, stealing the ball and/or blocking shots.
Here are the top 5 defensive players of 2012-13:
Victor Oladipo: Indiana
Victor Oladipo is one of those rare players who has the size (6'5" 210) and skill to be able to guard everything from PGs to PFs.
Oladipo is relentless, using his quickness and length to shut opponents down.
The rising junior was a 2012 Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection and figures to be a key contributor to Indiana's run at the conference and national championships in the upcoming season.
C.J. McCollum: Lehigh
C.J. McCollum has the whole package, and is a rare combination of skills at both ends of the court.
He is an excellent scorer (21.9 ppg). There's no doubt about that.
But McCollum is one of the nation's best backcourt rebounders (6.5 rpg) and on-court thieves (2.6 steals per game; No. 5 in the nation).
He is more known for the points that he puts up, but if you ask opposing coaches, they probably are just as concerned about what the versatile 6'3" guard does without the ball.
Gorgui Dieng: Louisville
Gorgui Dieng used the 2012 NCAA Tournament as a coming-out party, serving notice on the college hoops world about what's to come in the upcoming season.
The 6'11" rising junior center is a premiere shot-blocker, throwing back 3.2 shots per game in 2011-12.
He also pulled down nearly 10 rebounds per game.
Dieng's intimidating presence in the lane allows the other Louisville defenders to take all kinds of chances on the perimeter.
Even if he doesn't get a hand or just a finger on the shot, Dieng alters a whole slew of attempts per game, which, in many ways, is just as important.
Jeff Withey: Kansas
Jeff Withey's emergence as a premiere interior defender was instrumental in helping the Jayhawks get to the 2012 National Championship game.
Withey was the No. 7 shot-blocker (3.3 bpg) during the regular season. But, when you consider blocks-per-40 minutes, the 7'0" rising senior from San Diego was second in the nation (5.47), behind only Anthony Davis.
He blocked 31 shots in last year's March Madness, with an outstanding 10 rejections against NC State in KU's Sweet 16 game.
Along with his shot-blocking skills, Withey takes pride in shutting down his opponents by being physical, getting good position and working hard to not allow any easy looks at the basket.
Aaron Craft: Ohio State
Aaron Craft is the best defender in college basketball.
While 11 other players in the country had more steals (2.5 spg in 2011-12) than Ohio State's 6'2" PG, nobody impacted games like Craft.
Many of the ways that Craft contributes to the Buckeyes are not recorded in the box score. There aren't stats kept for things like denying your man the ball or making your opponent give up the ball against his will. I don't see numbers on tipped passes and deflections.
Craft is not a great defender simply because of freakish athletic ability. While he possesses great strength and quickness, Craft locks opponents down because of great effort and determination, a high basketball IQ and exceptional fundamentals.
He was the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and is regularly mentioned as being "the best on-ball defender in the country."
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