Barring a behind-the-back pass or incredible play, it is usually the scorers and dunkers that garner the top 10 college basketball plays on SportsCenter, but it is the unselfish players that are often the difference between winning and losing.
Without these passers, the scorers wouldn’t see their names in the paper nearly as often the next morning. These setup guys take glory in seeing their teammates succeed and are a coach’s dream.
Read on to see a preview of the 10 most unselfish players for the 2013-14 college basketball season.
The Florida Gators lose a lot of firepower from last season and will need incoming freshman Kasey Hill to be the floor general he is capable of being if they hope to return to the Elite Eight or better in 2013-14.
Billy Donovan’s squad will be built around its post play, and Hill may be the perfect fit from the point guard spot. He isn’t the best scorer in the 2013 class (although he is certainly capable of finding the basket), but he is an efficient creator when he gets to the lane. Look for Patric Young to have a number of easy looks thanks to Hill’s ability to draw the attention of the defense.
Hill is also an excellent ball-handler who will get out in transition and flash his passing ability in spades.
According to reports, Chaz Williams strongly considered declaring early for the NBA draft this offseason before electing to return to Massachusetts for his senior season. While the argument can be made that his unselfishness shone through in that decision alone, it is one that will likely help his draft status next year.
Williams' field-goal percentage went up from his sophomore to junior season, but his actual shot attempts decreased by nearly 100. Furthermore, his assists per game increased from his second year to his third by more than one per night.
UMass will have some new opponents to face this season thanks to conference realignment, and the Minutemen will need a strong and unselfish floor general on the court to maintain a sense of calm in the face of pressure. Williams will provide his squad with just that.
Kentucky is bringing in arguably one of the best recruiting classes in the history of college basketball, and point guard Andrew Harrison is a primary reason why.
Harrison is more than capable of being a major scorer in his own right, but he will likely set his own glory aside to help his teammates (including his brother Aaron ). His chief responsibility will be to draw the attention of the defense and hit Aaron on the perimeter, Julius Randle in the post or James Young on the wing.
If the Wildcats are to win the national championship again (or even the SEC), they are going to need Andrew Harrison to be an efficient distributor who picks his spots to score and shoot. There is so much talent on this squad and only one ball, so the point guard must find a way to keep everyone happy and the engine humming.
Syracuse will be one of the best teams in the nation in 2013-14, but it will still have its work cut out for it in the new-look ACC. After all, teams like Duke and North Carolina aren’t going to give up the conference crown to the new kids on the block without a fight.
Fortunately for Jim Boeheim, he will have an unselfish floor general leading the charge. Tyler Ennis may only be a freshman this season, but he possesses a high basketball IQ, impressive ball-handling abilities and advanced court vision for his age.
He isn’t much of a scorer yet, which means he will be primarily looking to set up his talented teammates. He will be a pass-first distributor who will allow players such as C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas to find the basket with regularity.
Look for Ennis to challenge for the ACC assists crown.
The majority of the players on this list make the cut because of their impressive passing abilities and willingness to help others score before themselves, but Shannon Scott is here for a handful of reasons.
He is a very talented point guard who could start just about anywhere in the Big Ten, but he has sacrificed significant playing time during his first two seasons (and will again in 2013-13) behind Aaron Craft. Scott has clearly taken advantage of his chance to learn from Ohio State’s starting point guard, because Scott had a renewed dedication to defense in 2012-13.
Instead of seeing the writing on the wall and transferring after a freshman year that saw sporadic playing time, Scott put the team before himself and got to work. He made significant strides as a floor general as a sophomore and will likely see even more action as a junior.
When he is out there, he rarely looks for his own shot. His nearly 4-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio last year is a perfect indicator of the type of passer he is when he is on the floor.
Anthony Collins was basically a one-man show at South Florida last season, which made his unselfishness all the more impressive. In fact, the Bulls would probably be better off if Collins looked to shoot more often in 2013-14.
The floor general ranked 13th in the country in assists per game last season and was consistently looking to set his teammates up before finding his own shots. He shot nearly 40 percent from behind the three-point line but only attempted 23 all season. By contrast, he dished out 194 total assists at a 6.5 per night clip.
In 30 games in 2012-13, Collins only attempted double-digit shot attempts six times. Look for that to change in 2013-14 if the Bulls hope to make a run at the NCAA tournament.
Yogi Ferrell joined Tom Crean’s squad at Indiana last year as the freshman question mark on a team that was loaded with talent and picked by many to win the national title. Most of the questions surrounding him were whether he would mess it up for the likes of Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller.
Ferrell proved himself more than capable of handling the load in Bloomington as a freshman, though, and did it without ever drawing attention to himself. He has the talent necessary to be a star himself, but he sacrificed his personal scoring and numbers for the good of the team.
Being the unselfish player that he is, Ferrell will likely enter the 2013-14 season with the same mindset. However, with the roster turnover the Hoosiers experienced in the offseason, it might serve them well if Ferrell looks for his own shot a bit more this year.
Last year for Sacred Heart, Phil Gaetano averaged just more than four field-goal attempts a game but dished out eight assists a night.
A point guard who basically dishes out two times more dimes a night than shot attempts is the definition of unselfish. Gaetano never garnered headlines in 2012-13 because he played for Sacred Heart, but he was second in the nation in assists behind only Jason Brickman.
The leader of the Pioneers had 14 games last season with at least nine assists. Look for that number to be even higher as he enters the realm of the upperclassmen in 2013-14.
If you are only a casual college basketball fan or only really pay attention in March, chances are you don’t know who led the nation in assists per game last season.
That would be Jason Brickman of the Long Island University Brooklyn Blackbirds.
Brickman averaged nearly nine assists per night during the regular season and was a primary reason why LIU-Brooklyn was able to qualify for the NCAA tournament. He also had better than a 2-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is impressive considering how often he handled the ball, and dished out nine dimes in his team’s lone tourney game.
As a senior in 2013-14, Brickman has to be considered one of the favorites (if not the favorite) to defend his assist crown.
Florida Gulf Coast caught the attention of the nation in the 2013 NCAA tournament, and Brett Comer’s unselfishness was a big reason why.
He led the Big Dance in assists per game, as he was lofting lobs left and right for the rest of “dunk city.” Cliché as it may sound, the grit and determination that the 6'3" point guard showed against athletically superior squads was inspiring for basketball fans that love underdogs.
Comer could lead the nation in assists in 2013-14 with his new-found confidence that the tournament gave him after finishing in the top 20 last season. The Eagles will look to employ their exciting and up-tempo pace throughout the year, and Comer will be the one lobbing all those alley-oop passes.
Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.