As the NBA relies more and more on overpowering point guards in the Chris Paul/Deron Williams mold, college basketball’s best floor leaders get a bigger share of the spotlight. The best of the bunch can take over games by themselves, setting up teammates while also nailing key shots in their own right.
One of this year’s shining examples of the breed is Baylor’s Pierre Jackson. He doesn’t have NBA size at 5’10”, 180 lbs, but few point guards in the college ranks command as much defensive attention as the Bears’ leader in scoring and assists.
Read on for more on Jackson’s impressive season and the rest of college hoops' 10 biggest offensive game-changers at the point guard spot.
It takes a special player to move Shabazz Napier off the ball, but Ryan Boatright has proven that he belongs in that category. The UConn sophomore is dishing out 4.7 assists per game despite the huge void where the Husky frontcourt used to be.
Boatright has also emerged as a much more consistent scoring weapon than he was a year ago, ranking second on the team behind Napier with 15.8 points a night.
There will be plenty of backcourts breathing a sigh of relief in March when they don’t have to face Boatright’s postseason-banned team and its pair of lethal backcourt scorers.
No list of the season’s dominant point guards would be complete without Michael Carter-Williams.
He’s the weakest scorer of this bunch at 11.7 points per game, but there hasn’t been a floor leader in the country who’s been more impressive in taking over games with his passing.
The 6’6” sophomore leads the nation with 9.8 assists a night, many of them off drives into the paint where he could just as easily look for his own shot.
Carter-Williams has also done an extraordinary job of starting fast breaks for himself, thanks to the fifth-best steal average (3.1 thefts per contest) in the nation.
Syracuse learned just how dangerous Khalif Wyatt can be when he poured in a season-high 33 points (including 15-for-15 free throw shooting) in upsetting the Orange.
For the year, the Temple senior is posting 16.2 points per game to rank among the Atlantic 10’s top scorers.
He’s no slouch as a passer, either, dealing out a career-best 4.0 assists a night. He’d be even scarier if it weren’t for a long-range shooting slump that’s dropped his three-point percentage from .379 to .263.
Whatever else he’s done this season, Phil Pressey deserves his place on this list for his performance at UCLA. Any point guard who can rack up 19 points and 19 assists on the road—in a loss, yet— is a force to be dealt with.
On the year, Pressey has been most dangerous as a passer, dishing out an SEC-best 7.2 assists a night. However, he’s also scoring a career-high 13.8 points per contest, second-best on a deep Missouri offense.
After leading Ohio on a Cinderella run to last year’s Sweet 16, D.J. Cooper isn’t exactly resting on his laurels. The senior point guard ranks third in the nation (percentage points behind Larry Drew II) with 8.5 assists per game.
Though his scoring has dropped a bit this season, Cooper is still contributing a team-leading 14.1 points per game for the Bobcats. He’s not half-bad at turning defense into offense, either, even if his 1.9 steals a night are actually a career low.
With so much talent in this year’s Atlantic 10, UMass is getting lost in the crowd. The Minutemen’s 5’9” point guard is used to that sort of obscurity, but Chaz Williams deserves some big-time attention.
Williams, who made his debut as a transfer from Hofstra last season, is filling up stat sheets again with 15.5 points, 7.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
Don’t be surprised to see Williams spearhead a few upsets over the A-10’s more-heralded squads as conference play begins.
Though he hasn’t yet shown the last-second magic that was so valuable to last year’s Bears, Pierre Jackson has still been Baylor’s biggest scoring threat by an appreciable margin. The senior PG is piling up 19.9 points per game.
He’s also doing plenty of damage as a distributor, averaging 6.2 assists a night. Now, he just needs to step up in the leadership department to help a very young Baylor frontcourt stop looking as green as the jerseys on their backs.
Now that Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum is out with a broken foot, Erick Green becomes the front-runner for the national scoring title. The Hokies’ surprise star has raised his average nine points a game over last year, leading the country with 24.6 points per contest.
He’s also putting up his best year as a distributor, averaging 4.4 assists a night. That Virginia Tech has lost five of its last seven games says a great deal about how much help Green isn’t getting from his Hokie teammates.
St. Mary’s lost plenty of talent from last year’s West Coast Conference champs, putting even more pressure on multi-talented senior Matthew Dellavedova.
The Australian national-team standout has responded with career bests of 17.4 points per game and a .419 shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
Even with fewer scorers to feed, Dellavedova is also on pace for a career high with 6.7 assists a night. He’ll face perhaps his biggest test of the season on Thursday night when his Gaels visit WCC favorite Gonzaga.
The Michigan Wolverines belong on the short list of the scariest offenses in the country this year, and it all starts with Trey Burke. The sophomore PG has improved in every phase of the game from an already-sensational freshman season.
Still the Wolverines’ leading scorer, Burke has raised his average to 18.2 points a night. Even more impressive, he’s taken advantage of an influx of new scoring weapons to increase his passing output to a Big Ten-leading 7.5 assists per game.