College Basketball: The 15 Quickest Players Heading into Next Season

Kyle StanzelCorrespondent IIIJuly 18, 2012

College Basketball: The 15 Quickest Players Heading into Next Season

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    College basketball has turned into a guard's game, dominated by the quickness and explosive athleticism of the smaller players on the court.

    We are seeing the same thing happen in the NBA as guys like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook have shown how to take over a game using their speed and agility.

    The upcoming 2012-2013 basketball season will be a showcase of some of the best guards in the country, highlighted by their elite quickness on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

    Here is a look at the top 15 quickest college basketball players heading into next season.

15. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh

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    C.J. McCollum and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks were the talk of the NCAA tournament's first round after they pulled off a huge upset of second-seeded Duke, defeating the Blue Devils 75-70.

    The 6'3" senior established himself as a legitimate NBA prospect after averaging over 21 points per game for the second consecutive season last year. 

    McCollum uses his quickness to separate from his defender and either knock down an open jumper or take the ball hard at the basket.

    McCollum is not an unknown commodity anymore, but he will hold off the NBA for one more year to lead Lehigh in 2012.

14. Rodney Purvis, North Carolina State

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    An incredible athlete at 6'4" 190 lbs. Rodney Purvis is a leading candidate for ACC Freshman of the Year honors in 2012.

    A McDonald's All-American, Purvis is virtually unstoppable on the fast break and he can explode to the rim for a highlight-reel dunk or stop on a dime and knock down a three.

    The 2012-2013 season could be a big one for North Carolina State as they are equipped with one of the most talented rosters in America, led by their dynamic freshman, Rodney Purvis.

13. Phil Pressey, Missouri

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    With a lot of new faces on the court for Missouri in 2012, Tigers coach Frank Haith will be looking to point guard Phil Pressey to lead the talented new group.

    What the 5'8" Pressey lacks in height he makes up for in his deceptive speed and athletic ability. The rising junior does an excellent job of blowing by his man and drawing extra defenders before dishing the ball to a wide open teammate.

    If Missouri is going to avenge its first-round upset to Norfolk State and make a run in the NCAA tournament, it will need their speedy point guard Pressey on top of his game.

12. Trey Burke, Michigan

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    The Co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, Trey Burke is as dynamic a point guard as there is and is poised for a big year in 2012.

    After a disappointing first-round exit in the NCAA tournament, Burke has Michigan poised for a run at the Big Ten title, and he was even confident enough to call the Wolverines national championship contenders.

    Burke has outstanding agility, especially with the basketball, and there are few point guards in the country as good as the 5'11" sophomore at getting to the basket.

    If Michigan is actually going to contend for a national championship in 2012-2013, point guard Burke is going to have to improve on his stellar freshman campaign and become a superstar on the national stage.

11. Ryan Boatright, Connecticut

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    There are few 6' point guards in college basketball with as much athleticism as Connecticut's Ryan Boatright, and the sophomore will play a big role for Jim Calhoun next season.

    Using his quick hands and feet, Boatright does an excellent job of beating his opponent to the spot and making the steal on defense. He is also an explosive player on the offensive end, getting to the basket with ease and throwing down highlight-reel dunks.

    Although Connecticut is banned from any postseason play by the NCAA next season, expect the Huskies to make some noise in the Big East with Ryan Boatright back for a full season.

10. Ray McCallum Jr., Detroit

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    Despite being recruited by nearly every basketball powerhouse in the nation, McDonald's All-American Ray McCallum Jr. decided he wanted to play for his father at Detroit University.

    McCallum is another explosive athlete who prides himself on locking down his opponent on the defensive side and is unstoppable once he gets going on the fast break.

    After leading the Titans to a Horizon League tournament title and the NCAA tournament, McCallum has spent this summer playing with the best guards in the country at Chris Paul's and Deron Williams' summer camps.

    Expect Detroit to be Horizon League contenders once again in 2012-2013 thanks to the play of their superstar, Ray McCallum Jr.

9. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke

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    It is not easy following in the footsteps of players like Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers, but that is exactly what freshman Rasheed Sulaimon will try to do when he steps on the court for Duke in 2012-2013.

    A ridiculous athlete similar to ACC freshman Rodney Purvis, Sulaimon attacks the basket with fury and his hard to stop once he just puts his head down and goes.

    Coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn't have a standout playmaker for the upcoming season, and he is hoping Rasheed Sulaimon will be able to fill that role as a dynamic freshman.

8. D.J. Cooper, Ohio

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    Part of an NCAA Cinderella team not once, but twice in his career at Ohio University, D.J. Cooper should no longer be an unknown superstar.

    A 5'11" senior, Cooper is poised to have a huge season for the Bobcats after averaging over 13 points per game for the third consecutive season and nearly leading his team past North Carolina and into the Elite Eight.

    Using his cat-like quickness, Cooper is one of the best on-ball defenders in the nation, and his speed plays up even more thanks to his outstanding anticipation skills.

    Ohio returns nearly all of its players from its Sweet 16 team, and they will hope to make it make there in 2012-2013, led by superstar D.J. Cooper.

7. Aaron Craft, Ohio State

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    Hands down there isn't a better one-on-one defender in college basketball than Ohio State's Aaron Craft.

    The Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, Craft uses his relentless motor and fluid lateral quickness to bottle up opponents and give them virtually no room to create on offense.

    While his offensive game isn't quite up to par with his defensive abilities, Craft uses his top-flight quickness to be perhaps the best defensive player in the country.

6. Myck Kabongo, Texas

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    Last season was a tough year for a young Texas Longhorns team, but expect it to be a legitimate Big 12 threat this season led by point guard Myck Kabongo.

    Expect a breakout season from Kabongo this year as the 6'1" point guard is as talented as they come and is a blur with the ball in his hands.

    Draft Express has the sophomore rated as the No. 17 prospect for the 2013 NBA draft, and that ranking will surely go up with a big year in 2012-2013.

    Using his outstanding quickness and elite ball-handling ability, Kabongo could easily become the next superstar to come out Rick Barnes' Texas program.

5. Ryan Harrow, Kentucky

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    The list of dynamic point guards that have thrived playing for John Calipari is incredible. Tyreke Evans, Derrick Rose, John Wall, Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague were all first-round picks out of college, and Ryan Harrow is the next in line.

    Harrow is on the same athletic plane as those point guards, and he can fly down the court and finish with some dunks that will make the Rupp Arena crowd go nuts.

    Harrow will be expected to handle the ball for another talented Kentucky team. Don't be surprised if Kentucky makes a deep run at its second consecutive national title.

4. Isaiah Canaan, Murray State

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    One of the biggest stories of the last season was Murray State's incredible 31-2 season, headlined by the play of Ohio Valley Conference Athlete of the Year Isaiah Canaan.

    The 6' point guard uses his great speed to create open opportunities for himself and it helped him average 19 points per game as a junior.

    Now that he has established himself as an NBA prospect, Canaan has been very impressive at a number of camps run by NBA stars this summer.

    Look for Murray State to have another big year in 2012-2013; it will be interesting to see how far Canaan can lead the Racers in his final season.

3. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

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    The second Connecticut point guard on this list, Shabazz Napier is one of the most exciting players in the country and was a big part of Jim Calhoun's 2011 national title team.

    Napier is fearless with the ball in his hands and isn't afraid to take the big shot or drive hard in the paint.

    There isn't a player in the country who moves as quick with the ball in his hands, and his ability to separate and change directions so fluidly is uncanny.

    Along with fellow guard Ryan Boatright, Napier gives the Huskies one of the most exciting backcourts in college basketball.

2. Peyton Siva, Louisville

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    Peyton Siva put himself and the Louisville Cardinals in the national spotlight with a Big East tournament title and Final Four appearance last season.

    While maybe not the smartest player on the court, there is no doubting that Siva's athletic ability is on a whole new level compared to other guards.

    Siva blows by his defender and gets into the lane with such ease and there are some things that he can do on the basketball court that other players simply aren't capable of.

    An early favorite for the top ranking in college basketball, Siva and Louisville back in the Final Four in 2012-2013 wouldn't be much of a surprise.

1. Joe Jackson, Memphis

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    Memphis point guard Joe Jackson was one of the most heralded stars in the game coming out of high school.

    While it hasn't exactly worked out as well as hoped for Jackson and the Tigers, he still possesses the incredible agility that puts him at the top of this list.

    Jackson is so fast that he often times makes defenders look foolish with how quickly he gets by them, and the Memphis' fast break is fun to watch thanks to him.

    If Jackson can utilize his quickness and reach his full potential, we could see Memphis back in the Final Four picture in 2012-2013.