Ranking the 10 Most Entertaining Players for the 2013-14 NCAA Basketball Season
These are the men of the top 10.
The anchors on the highlight shows should have their names memorized by the end of this upcoming college basketball season. Anytime their teams play, these players will make it worth tuning in.
Whether it's their charisma on and off the court—we see you, Russ Smith—or their raw explosiveness—meet Andrew Wiggins—each of these 10 players are sure to entertain us starting in November.
10. Joe Jackson, Memphis
Memphis coach Josh Pastner gives his guards a lot of freedom to create off the dribble in his dribble-drive offense. If you put a guy in that offense who can shake his man, he can be fun to watch. And that's Joe Jackson, who averaged 13.6 points and 4.8 assists last season for the Tigers.
9. Chris Obekpa, St. John's
Most players on this list are here for what they can do on the offensive end. St. John's Chris Obekpa is the one exception.
Obekpa was one of the best rim-protectors as a freshman that college basketball has even seen. He had 128 blocks and led the country in block percentage (per KenPom.com). If he continues to improve, he may be a record-setter by the end of his college career.
At his current pace, he'd rank third in blocked shots in the NCAA record book by the end of his career—assuming he stays four years.
8. Brett Comer, Florida Gulf Coast
Dunk City would not be Dunk City without Brett Comer.
Comer was the orchestrator and the lob-master of Andy Enfield's up-tempo offense. This time last year, no one had heard of Florida Gulf Coast or its point guard. The next two seasons, we'll keep an eye on both and hope that new coach Joe Dooley allows Comer to keep throwing lobs.
7. Mitch McGary, Michigan
Is effort entertaining? That might be a stretch. But watching Mitch McGary in the NCAA tournament was pretty darn entertaining, and what makes McGary special is how hard he plays.
A similar comparison could be former North Carolina big man Tyler Hansbrough—only McGary has more size and power. His skill appeared to be catching up as well in the tourney when he averaged 14.3 points per game. When you combine some skill with that motor, that's fun to watch.
6. Doug McDermott, Creighton
If rock-solid fundamentals entertain you—and I'm a softy for great footwork and a soft touch—then watch every Creighton game you can.
Doug McDermott isn't going to wow with athletic highlight-reel plays, and that's why he's not in the top five, but he is the best scorer in college basketball. The smoothness with which he operates (and gets his buckets) makes his game easy on the eyes.
5. Jahii Carson, Arizona State
Arizona State coach Herb Sendek told Arizona Republic beat writer Doug Haller this summer that his point guard Jahii Carson was the fastest in college basketball.
Haller used the play above as evidence in Carson's favor. His speed is something to behold. And Carson is more than just that speed. He has a great handle and knack for scoring. He averaged 18.5 points per game as a freshman.
4. Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
If Andrew Wiggins or Aaron Gordon are going to claim the crown of best dunker in college basketball, they'll have to take it from the best returning dunker in the game, Oklahoma State's Markel Brown.
Marcus Smart garners most of the attention for the Cowboys—and for good reason—but Brown is always the most entertaining player on the floor. If you disagree, watch the dunk that was so vicious he got kicked out of a game during his sophomore season.
Brown also deserves to be on the list of "most underrated players" in college basketball. Hopefully another season of relevancy for the Cowboys will bring him the respect he deserves.
3. Aaron Gordon, Arizona
Arizona incoming freshman Aaron Gordon got only 18.8 minutes per game this summer during the Under-19 World Championship playing for the United States. In those 18.8 minutes, Gordon had at least one "did you see that!?" moment every game. He also led the team in scoring.
Imagine what he'll do playing starter minutes next season.
Gordon has been compared to Blake Griffin because of his dunking ability, and watch the video above or do a YouTube search of any of his highlights for proof of that. What college basketball fans will come to find out is he isn't just entertaining when he's flying through the air.
He has some flash with the ball in his hands as well. Watch this behind-the-back pass to witness that.
2. Russ Smith, Louisville
Surprise is one element of entertainment. When the possibility that something we've never seen or heard before is real, we watch intently. Surprise isn't something college basketball coaches necessarily embrace.
They like control. They like to move the chess pieces.
But with Russ Smith, Louisville coach Rick Pitino has had to give in. Smith shoots and speaks without a filter. Giving him that freedom helped get Pitino a title.
Now Smith is coming back for his senior season when most players feel like they have more freedom. Hold onto your seats. Russdiculous could be taking us on one entertaining ride this year.
1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
When Andrew Wiggins arrived at Kansas this summer, media in the area flocked to Lawrence for a scrimmage to see what all the hubbub was about. He showed us 13 seconds in.
The speed and power and hops are evident in all the highlight videos. Those videos have so many views that college basketball fans think they know what they're getting in Wiggins.
Will Wiggins be the best player in college basketball next season? We'll see. Will he be the most entertaining? Thirteen seconds in to witnessing him live for the first time, I was convinced.
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