College Basketball: Power Ranking the Top Scorers in the Nation
Preseason college basketball is only good for a few things: speculation, debate, sky-high hopes and, of course, power rankings.
Now, what happens when you take all that speculation, dabble in a little debate, sprinkle some of the fans' sky-high hopes and put them all in a power-rankings format?
You get the official B/R Preseason Top Scorer Power Rankings for the 2012-13 college basketball season.
It's like a fiesta for the college basketball fan's head.
This is just the first of many power rankings focusing on college basketball's best "rise and fire" ballers. A complete dedication to the men that take over games with their fluid jumpers, Chris Berman "whooping" crossovers and spine-tingling dunks. A shrine to college basketball's eventual "One Shining Moment" stars. To the smooth operators, fire dancers, PTP-ers and rim rattlers.
As the season rolls on, I will update these rankings every week or two just to make sure we give proper "cred" to the Damian Lilliards and Reggie Hamiltons of the world. These rankings, of course, are all objective, but college basketball fans who choose to voice their opinions on who they believe should be in and who should be out of the top 10 by either vocalizing them in the comments section or hitting me up on Twitter will be taken into consideration from here on out.
Let the rankings begin.
The Could Be's
Before we get to my top-ranked player for the 2012-13 season, I want to list a few names that can make a leap into the Top 10 as the season progresses on.
Cleveland Melvin, DePaul
Melvin has been nothing but consistent in his first two seasons at DePaul. The Baltimore native dropped a cool 17.5 points per game as a sophomore in the Big East while converting 44.8 percent of his field goals. What's discerning is that Melvin only shot 22.9 percent from three-point range while taking 2.3 attempts per game. Ugly.
Hopefully Melvin's growth continues as a scorer and Coach Oliver Purnell puts the 6'8" forward in positive positions to score throughout the season.
Kevin Olekaibe, Fresno State
For those of you that still play pick up basketball in your free time, do you know that guy that plays almost every day at your local gym and chucks up what seems like 27 shots a game? That guy that sometimes hits 17 of them and other times only three? That's Kevin Olekaibe in a nut shell.
Last season, Olekaibe launched 15.4 shots per game and only connected on an average of 5.7 of them or, in layman's terms, 37.2 percent. What may be even more annoying for Fresno State fans is that out of his 15.4 shots a game, 8.2 of them were from three-point land. He converted 33.8 percent of those. Still, when he's hot, he's hot, and the coldest of nights wont prevent him from having a short memory.
Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey or Travis Releford, Kansas
Kansas should once again be atop the Big 12 and quite possibly find themselves a Final Four team when it is all said and done. If that scenario plays out, it will be in major part to the Johnson/Releford/Withey trio. These three need to step up and fill in the shoes left behind by Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. One, if not all three, of these guys will more than likely push his way onto this list by season's end; my money is on the athletic junior Elijah Johnson.
Seth Curry, Duke
There has to be one guard that scores at Duke right? It can't all be on Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. With Austin Rivers' almost twelve attempts available after his escape to the NBA ranks, Curry has to be that guy.
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
I mean, how can you not secretly root for a guy with such a beautiful and almost invisible goatee?
Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
Fine, I'm a homer and probably slightly senile. Sue me.
No. 10: Tim Frazier, PSU
When you are the best cat on a bad team, padding stats is like shooting fish in a barrel.
Tim Frazier, senior guard at Penn State, touts some of the best athleticism and speed in the Big Ten and quite possibly the entire NCAA.
Standing at 6'1", not only is the kid the best leaper on his team, having a 34-inch vertical, he also is one of the quickest. Having such talents usually makes the game of basketball a little bit easier.
The First-Team All-Big Ten honoree should be able to put up even better numbers in his senior season at State College than the one that earned him a selection into the Deron Williams Skills Academy.
Frazier was the definition of a tough college basketball guard, having averaged 18.8 points, 2.4 steals, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds per game in 2011-12. He did all of that while accounting for 57 percent of the Nittany Lions offense last year.
Impressive against Big Ten talent night in and night out.
This kid is going to turn a few heads, if not in the college basketball community, among those in the NBA.
No. 9: Jamaal Franklin, SDSU
Jamaal Franklin could very well average a double-double for Coach Steve Fisher's bunch in 2012-13. He will be an All-American of some sorts if he continues to build on his Mountain West bests from last year (first in scoring, third in defensive rebounds, fourth in rebounding, fourth in free-throw percentage, sixth in field goal percentage, ninth in offensive rebounds and 10th in blocked shots).
Franklin scored 17.2 points per game shooting 43.4 percent from the field in 2011-12. So much for a sophomore slump. In what will be his third year in the system, the junior should be able to raise his game once again and a 18.5 on 45 percent shooting doesn't seem like it's too far out of reach.
Watch out for San Diego State as they are returning a heap load of players from their NCAA Tournament team last year.
No. 8: Brock Motum, WSU
Brock Motum will score efficiently under the basket and rebound. He is who he is.
That is of course when he's not giving the ball to the other team.
Motum averaged 3.0 turnovers per game in his junior season which put the Australian first on his team.
Think about what three more possessions could do not only for WAZZU but for Motum's offensive statistics in 2012-13 if he could limit them to 1.2 as he did in his sophomore season.
Truthfully, better care for the basketball could easily bump him up from 18.0 points per game to 20.
No. 7: Cody Zeller, IU
Cody Zeller is as automatic of an All-American as they come.
He will more than likely improve on his 15.6 points per game, and IU will more than likely improve on their 27-9 record. And the Hoosiers will more than likely find themselves among the top five-ranked teams for the entirety of the NCAA basketball season.
What more do you all want?
What worries me a little bit is the possibility of being keyed on by opposing coaches/defenses throughout the year. His teammates are more than capable of getting the job done, so a regression is possible.
Plus, there is always that lingering "sophomore slump" issue that seems to poke its head around from time to time.
But the most intriguing part to his is the little fact that Zeller converted on 62.3 percent of his shot attempts last season. That was good for 14th among all NCAA basketball players last year; while Zeller ranked third in actual shot attempts with 289 (only trailing Iona's Mike Glover who had 362 and Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe who had 293).
I'm sorry, Hoosier fans, but again, this can all change very quickly.
No. 6: Deshaun Thomas, OSU
It is arguable that Deshaun Thomas was better than teammate Jared Sullinger last year. It is arguable that Thomas already has broken out as a star. It is arguable that Thomas could be Ohio State's only reliable scorer in 2012-13.
No matter which side you may choose on the first two debates, there really is no argument other than the fact that Thomas is the best offensive option Ohio State is returning (sorry Aaron Craft lovers). He also could be the next Buckeye to cross over into the NBA if that plays out.
Thomas can rebound on both ends of the court and can convert around the basket. That will only help him throughout the season and Big Ten schedule.
It also should help knowing that you are the heir apparent to 11.1 more shots per game.
The keys to the Ohio State offense have been handed over; let's see how far Thomas takes them.
No. 5: C.J. McCollum, Lehigh
Some might me angry at this ranking, in which case, I'm sorry and reserve the right to move C.J. McCollum way up once the season begins.
I just can't get past the whole Lehigh thing. It's not like the Patriot League is providing him NBA-type defenses to contend against every night.
Before you say it, I know, they beat Duke last year and McCollum scored 30 in the contest against a Coach K defensive scheme. Yes, he'll probably be a First-Team All-American. Absolutely, he'll get drafted and be a Stephen Curry-type player in the NBA. And yes I know he upped his points per game last season (21.9) while dropping his turnovers (2.3 compared to 2.8 in 2010-11) and shot almost 45 percent.
Can I just see what happens when he plays Baylor first?
No. 4: C.J. Harris, Wake Forest
C.J. Harris is just one of those guys that you would want running your team if you were a coach. The senior captain, a title he has owned since his sophomore season at Wake Forest, ranked fourth in the ACC in scoring per game in 2011-12 with 16.7 points per game.
That feat alone is impressive, but there is more to the guard's resume. He posted a 47.7 field goal percentage, 42.2 three-point percentage, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists as well during his junior year.
Good enough to be labeled a third-team All-ACC member.
Expect him to best that in 2012-13.
What will help Harris is that he continues to find ways to go to the free throw line (where he shoots 83 percent for his career). A senior guard with the ability to knock down open shots and get to the rim is always lethal. With great size (6'3") and athleticism, Harris is primed for an even bigger breakout year for the Demon Deacons.
No. 3: Isaiah Canaan, Murray State
Call this my dark horse pick.
Isaiah Canaan might not be as well known as some of our other players, but let me tell you something: This kid can flat out play basketball.
The Murray State point guard is strong, quick and has impressive decisiveness with the rock in his hand. He may be undersized, but that is almost what makes him so much more entertaining to watch.
Oh, and did I mention that Canaan is a pretty solid shooter as well?
Last season, Canaan knocked down 45.6 percent of his shots from behind the three-point line (6.5 per game). He also averaged 46.8 percent from the field. Add that all up, and you have a point guard scoring 19 points per game.
Same old story here. Talented guard in his senior season. It's what the NCAA is all about.
I expect improvement upon his already impressive junior stat lines.
No. 2: Doug McDermott, Creighton
Do I really even need to make an argument for this kid? Only Cody Zeller and Doug McDermott are truly the only two guaranteed All Americans at this point in the preseason.
Is it me, or am I the only one that sees a little Adam Morrison in him (NOT NBA Morrison, NCAA Morrison)?
We'll have to see what the Creighton Blue Jay can muster up in 2012-13, but don't be surprised when it is all said and done if McDermott averages 26 points per game on 18or so shots, grows an awesome mustache and gets drafted third overall by the Bobcats.
No. 1: Kenny Boynton, UF
Kenny Boynton and the Florida Gators should be really, really good.
Because of that, I think his 15.9 points per game mark from last year is only going to rise in 2012-13 with Bradley Beal on the Washington Wizards and Erving Walker off of the roster after graduation.
This team runs through Kenny Boynton now.
I think he knows it, and I think Coach Billy Donovan knows it and is going to make sure he harnesses it.
What should help is that Patrick Young should take a giant step this year as far as his overall game is concerned, which will only open the floor for Kenny Boynton to do more Kenny Boynton things. And by things, I mean score like there is no tomorrow.
With a talented roster in front of him, it will also prohibit opposing coaches to focus all of their attention on the senior guard. This will let his competitive nature to take over and allow for that killer instinct to be turned into overdrive.