Power Ranking the Top 25 Players in College Basketball Right Now

Sean MerrimanCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2013

Power Ranking the Top 25 Players in College Basketball Right Now

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    The month of February is coming to a close and the college basketball landscape is finally beginning to take shape.

    Indiana has established itself as the top team in the league, and the Big Ten has established itself as the top conference in the league.

    But now we ask, who is the top player in all of college basketball?

    Let's go ahead and rank the top 25 players in college basketball, right here, right now.

25. Gary Harris

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    Harris is hands down the top freshman in the Big Ten this season, which certainly warrants a spot on this list.

    The 6'4" shooting guard is averaging 13.2 points per game for the No. 9-ranked Michigan State Spartans. His outside shooting has been exceptional this season, currently standing at over 43 percent from three-point range.

    Perhaps the most impressive thing about Harris is his ability to step up in big-time games for Michigan State.

    He put up 21 and 19 points in the Spartans' two matchups against No. 1-ranked Indiana this season, and also totaled 17 points against Michigan and 18 against Kansas.

    This kid is already one of the most talented players in the country and still has a ton of room to grow going forward.

24. Phil Pressey

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    Some may say that Pressey isn't even the best player on his own team, but I would imagine that true Missouri fans know that isn't the case.

    Pressey is the engine that makes this Missouri team go. The talented point guard is averaging 11.8 points and 6.9 assists per game for the Tigers this season.

    Pressey has already racked up three double-doubles this season, including an eye-popping 19-point, 19-assist outing against UCLA back on Dec. 28th.

    If Missouri is going to make a run at the NCAA tournament, it is going to happen because of the play of their talented point guard.

23. Keith Appling

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    After the departure of All-American Draymond Green, everyone wanted to know who was going to step up and be the big playmaker for this Michigan State basketball team.

    The answer to that question has been simple thus far—Keith Appling.

    The junior captain is averaging a team-best 13.4 point and four assists per game this season for the No. 9-ranked Spartans.

    Appling has struggled over his past two games against Indiana and Ohio State; otherwise, he would likley be higher on this list. But when this kid is on his A-game, there aren't many players in the country who can close out a game like Appling can. He has been the guy that demands the ball in his hands in the closing minutes of the game.

    Don't believe me?

    Check out Appling's game-winning shot against Kansas earlier this season.

22. Erick Green

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    It's almost a formality that if you lead the nation in scoring, then you have to appear on this list somewhere, right?

    Virginia Tech guard Erick Green has been phenomenal this season, averaging 25.2 points per game, which does indeed put him as the nation's top scorer.

    But Green isn't just a scorer. He also averages more than four rebounds and four assists per game as well.

    The Hokies' 12-15 record makes it hard to put Green much higher on this list, but he's certainly deserving of a spot, nonetheless.

21. Russ Smith

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    Many thought that it would be Peyton Siva or Gorgui Dieng on this list heading into the season, but instead it is Russ Smith who has been Louisville's top player this season.

    Smith is averaging a team-best 18.4 points per game and is shooting better than 40 percent from three-point range.

    More importantly, he has helped guide Louisville to a 22-5 record and the No. 10 ranking in the country.

    If Louisville is going to make another Final Four run, they are going to need Smith to be at his best, which he has been thus far. 

20. Pierre Jackson

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    Baylor is one of those teams that are on the NCAA tournament bubble, but if they are going to make it in, it is going to have to be behind the play of senior guard Pierre Jackson.

    The 5'10" point guard has been phenomenal for the Bears this season, averaging 19.2 points and dishing out 6.4 assists per contest.

    If Baylor had a better record, then Jackson would likely be in heavy contention for Big 12 Player of the Year honors.

    Yes, he's that good.

19. Jamaal Franklin

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    Jamaal Franklin isn't quite as good as Kawhi Leonard was in his San Diego State days, but he is pretty darn close.

    Franklin has led the Aztecs to an impressive 20-7 record, which should put them in the running for an NCAA Tournament bid.

    Franklin, a 6'5" junior guard, is putting up more than 17 points and nine rebounds per game, which is exceptional for a shooting guard. In fact, Franklin has scored in double-digits in all but one game this season, which is incredible in its own right.

    This kid certainly has a bright future ahead in the NBA.

18. Michael Carter-Williams

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    A 6'6" point guard that can pass, shoot and rebound?

    Are you serious?

    Yes, that's exactly what Michael Carter-Williams can do. The talented sophomore guard is averaging 12.5 points, eight assists and 4.7 rebounds per game for the No. 8-ranked Syracuse Orange.

    With a 22-6 mark this season, Carter-Williams has put his Syracuse team in position to rack up another Big East Conference title and possibly a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

    He is a sure-bet first-round draft pick if he decides to come out early in this year's NBA draft.

    Sounds like that's a pretty solid resume to me.

17. Kenny Boynton

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    The Florida Gators don't have that one standout superstar like they have in the past.

    There is no David Lee, Al Horford or Joakim Noah on this team.

    But when it comes to the level of consistency, there is no one more consistent than Kenny Boynton.

    The Gators' senior point guard has averaged 13 or more points per game in four straight seasons now, three of which he has led the Gators in that category. He also leads the team in assists and minutes played.

    Boyton is the best player on the No. 8-ranked team in the country.

    That's deserving of the No.16 spot here on this list.

16. Otto Porter Jr.

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    Otto Porter Jr. has enjoyed a great sophomore season and has developed into one of the top players in the country and a likely lottery pick in the 2013 NBA draft.

    Porter is averaging 15.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for the No. 7-ranked Hoyas.

    The 6'8" swing forward has already totaled six double-doubles this season, a number which is expected to grow as Georgetown closes out the regular season with a run at the Big East Conference Championship.

15. Jeff Withey

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    It would be hard to find another player throughout college basketball who can alter the game on the defensive end like Jeff Withey. 

    Okay, sure, Nerlens Noel—but he's out for the season with an injury, and this list is talking about the top 25 players right now.

    Withey is averaging 13.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and four blocks per game. He is a force down low and is one of, if not the top shot-blocker in the nation.

    When you have that type of impact on the No. 6-ranked team in the country, then you are certainly worthy of the No. 15 spot on this list.

14. Shabazz Muhammad

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    When it comes to the most exciting college basketball players to watch live, UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad has to top the list.

    This kid is as athletic as they come and has the making of a future NBA superstar.

    A 6'6" skilled wing forward, Muhammad is putting up more than 18 points and five rebounds per game for the UCLA Bruins this season.

    He is a scoring machine and the top player on a UCLA squad that could be very dangerous come tournament time.

13. Isaiah Canaan

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    Isaiah Canaan is simply a scoring machine.

    This kid made a big name for himself last year in the NCAA tournament, and he started right back where he left off.

    Canaan is among the leading scorers in college basketball, averaging 21.2 points per game for Murray State.

    It would be interesting to see how good Canaan would be on a top-tier team, but for now, we'll slot him right here at No. 13 on this prestigious list.

12. Shane Larkin

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    The Miami Hurricanes have been the best story in college basketball this season, and a main reason for this team's success is the outstanding play of sophomore Shane Larkin.

    The 5'11" point guard is putting up outstanding numbers this season, averaging more than 13 points, four assists and four rebounds per game.

    He is the floor general for the No. 5-ranked team in the nation and is the engine that makes this Miami team go.

    Keep an eye out for this name come tournament time. This kid will show the college basketball world what a truly special player he is.

11. Deshaun Thomas

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    Deshaun Thomas very well might be the best pure scorer throughout all of college basketball.

    Not only does Thomas average more than 20 points per game for the No. 16-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, but he can score in such a variety of ways out on the court.

    Thomas is a good three-point shooter, but he also has the ability to use his 6'7" frame to post up smaller forwards and take over games on the low block.

    Now that he is out of the shadow of Jared Sullinger and William Bufford, this is Thomas' team and he has been shining bright for this Ohio State squad this season.

10. Mason Plumlee

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    How could this list ever be complete without including at least one player from Duke?

    Well, here you have it folks. The Blue Devils' 6'10" big man, Mason Plumlee, checks in here at No.10 on the list.

    Plumlee has been outstanding this season and has taken over the scoring and rebounding vacancies left after the departure of Austin Rivers and his older brother, Miles.

    In addition to scoring 17.5 points per game, Plumlee also puts up 10.7 rebounds per contest. He has recorded a double-double in 16 of Duke's 27 games played this season.

    Now those are the type of numbers that land you in the top 10 of this list.

9. Marcus Smart

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    When it comes to college freshmen, there aren't many better than Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart.

    The Cowboys' 6'4" combo guard is averaging 15 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game this season, while leading the Cowboys to an impressive 20-6 mark.

    Oklahoma State is 8-1 over its past nine games. In those nine games, Smart has scored in double digits in all of them, averaging more than 18 points per contest.

    This kid is everything that he was hyped up to be and then some.

8. Ben McLemore

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    After the season-ending injury to Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, many NBA scouts are predicting Kansas guard Ben McLemore to be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft.

    And really, why not?

    McLemore is having an exceptional freshman season, averaging just under 16 points per game while shooting better than 42 percent from three-point range.

    Not only is McLemore Kansas' leading scorer, but he is their best shooter, slasher and a guy who they have relied on to make big shots down the stretch.

    At 6'5" 195 pounds, this kid has an NBA-ready body and an NBA-ready game.

7. Anthony Bennett

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    When it comes to the top freshmen in all of college basketball, Anthony Bennett gets my vote. No questions asked.

    The UNLV big man is putting up 17 points and 8.4 rebounds for per game for the Running Rebels this season. More importantly, he has led his team to an impressive 21-7 mark this season and what should be a spot in the NCAA tournament field.

    This kid was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school and it had some people scratching their heads when he chose to play in the Mountain West Conference. But it has worked out perfectly as Bennett has been nothing short of spectacular this season.

    If he does decide to make the early jump to the NBA, look for Bennett to be a sure-bet lottery pick in the NBA draft.

6. C.J. Leslie

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    Every time I watch C.J. Leslie play, I become more and more impressed with how good this kid really is.

    At 6'9" 200 pounds, Leslie can run like a guard, soar like a forward and rebound like a center.

    He is a truly gifted athlete who has all the ingredients of a future NBA star.

    This season, Leslie is averaging 15.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while leading the Wolfpack to a 19-8 record.

    If you get a chance, watch this kid play this season.

    He is well worth the price of admission.

5. Kelly Olynyk

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    Talk about a kid who came out of nowhere...

    Kelly Olynyk has taken college basketball by storm this season and is one of the top players in the nation, wavy hair and all.

    The Zags' seven-footer is averaging 17.7 points and seven rebounds per game this season for Gonzaga. Most importantly, the Zags currently sit at 27-2 and are the No. 2-ranked team in the country.

    Olynyk has scored in double-digits in 25 of the 26 games he has played for Gonzaga this season. That includes two 30-plus games against Santa Clara and St. Mary's.

    He isn't the most elegant player out on the court, but he is certainly one of the most productive.

4. Cody Zeller

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    College basketball's Preseason Player of the Year has been as good as advertised this season.

    Cody Zeller is putting up 16.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game for the No. 1-ranked Hoosiers.

    He has been solid in the middle and has helped Indiana maintain its spot as the top team in the country with an impressive 24-3 record. The Hoosiers currently sit in first place in the nation's best conference, and a large part of that is because of the play from Zeller.

    When you come into the season with as much hype as Zeller and his Indiana team had it's not always easy to back it up.

    This kid has certainly backed it up with his play out on the basketball court this season.

3. Doug McDermott

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    It's not everyday you see a guy who plays in the Missouri Valley Conference listed in the top three National Players of the Year.

    But that is the case with Creighton star Doug McDermott.

    Yes, he is that good.

    The Bluejays' 6'8" star forward is putting up 22.4 points per game, which ranks fourth in the nation. He also leads Creighton in rebounding (7.6), three-point percentage (48 percent) and minutes per game (31.5).

    In other words, this kid does it all for his team, and he has been doing so for three straight years now.

    McDermott isn't the most flashy player in college basketball, but when it comes down to it, this kid can take over a game at any given time. Keep an eye out for McDermott in this year's NCAA tournament.

    He will certainly make his name be known.

2. Trey Burke

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    Trey Burke had a very good freshman season at Michigan.

    This year, he has taken the leap from good to great.

    Burke is averaging a team-best 18.9 points and 6.9 assists per game for the Wolverines. Most importantly, his team has been exceptional this season, posting a 23-4 record which includes being unbeaten at home.

    Burke has the ability to take over a game on offense, but he is also an exceptional passer, often creating open shots for his teammates.

    Don't be surprised to see Trey Burke right in the mix for National Player of the Year honors when this season comes to an end.

    He is simply a pleasure to watch on the basketball court.

1. Victor Oladipo

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    How can a player averaging just over 14 points per game be the top player in college basketball?

    Because there isn't another player in the entire country who can dominate a basketball game on both sides of the court like Indiana's Victor Oladipo can.

    The Hoosiers' 6'5" swing forward is the most athletic player in the country, and arguably the top defensive player in the country as well. He's also the engine that makes the No. 1-ranked team in the country go.

    In addition to his 14 points per game, Oladipo also averages six rebounds, 2.2 steals and is shooting an eye-popping 64 percent from the field.

    Oladipo's performance against Michigan State last week established him as the leading candidate for National Player of the Year honors.

Honorable Mention

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    Seth Curry, Duke

    Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan

    Mark Lyons, Arizona

    Brandon Triche, Syracuse

    Rodney McGruder, Kansas State

    Kendall Williams, New Mexico

    Joe Jackson, Memphis

    Rotnei Clarke, Butler

    Jack Cooley, Notre Dame

    Matthew Dellavedova, St. Marys

    James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina

    Shabazz Napier, UConn

    Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnatti

    Bryce Cotton, Providence

    Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss

    Alex Len, Maryland

    Ray McCallum Jr., Detroit