There are few plays more exciting on the basketball court than a guard blowing past his defender with an impressive move. The more foolish the defender looks, the better.
Fortunately for fans, there are plenty of collegiate guards that will leave defenders in their wakes in the 2013-14 campaign. Read on to see a list of some of the smoothest ball-handlers in the country who will break ankles all year.
Feel free to add names you feel should be included on the list in the comments section.
Were this list to be compiled before the 2012-13 season, Peyton Siva certainly would have made the cut. But this year the Louisville guard that will blow past defenders is Russ Smith.
Smith is immensely talented despite the fact that shot selection is sometimes an issue. When he does utilize his quickness, there are few defenders in the nation that can keep up with his speed and offensive moves.
Smith will have plenty of capable weapons surrounding him on offense this year, but he is Rick Pitino’s No. 1 option in the Cardinals’ title defense. Louisville should handle the American Athletic Conference, but if more March magic is in the cards, Smith will need to break a few ankles with the ball in his hands.
If Marcus Smart isn’t the overall favorite for National Player of the Year in 2013-14, he is on the short list alongside a few freshmen.
Part of what makes Smart such a great player is the fact that he excels on both ends of the floor. A major reason why is his quickness and overall explosiveness. The same fast feet that allow him to stay in front of opposing ball-handlers and rack up steals let him blow past defenders as well.
Smart will leave Big 12 defenses in his wake all year. Look for Oklahoma State to give Kansas a run for its money for the conference title. If the Cowboys were to upset the typical Big 12 pecking order, Smart’s offensive moves and ball-handling will play a major role.
Corey Hawkins isn’t as recognizable as many players on this list, but he has an outside chance to lead the nation in scoring in 2013-14.
The guard from UC Davis averaged better than 20 points per game last year behind solid outside shooting, deadly free-throw numbers and an innate ability to blow past defenders on the way to the rim. The former Arizona State Sun Devil should be even more effective this season with an extra year of experience under his belt.
There are few defenders in the country that are capable of keeping up with Hawkins, let alone those he will face in the Big West Conference. Look for Hawkins to propel UC Davis closer to the top of the league standings this year against the likes of Long Beach State.
Bryce Cotton is far from the biggest player on this list, but he makes up for his lack of size with incredible quickness when he has the ball in his hands.
If Providence has an outside hope of making the NCAA tournament in 2013-14, it is going to need Cotton to utilize that speed and convert on easy opportunities in transition. He can spearhead fast breaks with his harassing defense and end-to-end explosiveness.
Cotton averaged nearly 20 points a night for the Friars last year, but he could break that 20 barrier this season by attacking the rim more often. He will break plenty of ankles in the process.
Freshman or no freshman, Kentucky’s Andrew Harrison is one of the quickest players in the nation and has the smooth ball-handling abilities to go along with it.
With so many talented teammates surrounding him, Harrison’s biggest issue will be finding a way to spread the ball around and still pick and choose his own moments to attack. The good news is defenders can’t key on his jumper or penetration because one of his running mates will make them pay.
The Wildcats will spread the floor at times for Harrison to utilize his quickness and get to the rim. When he does he can either finish in the lane or kick it out to his brother or James Young for a wide open look if the defense collapses.
If you are looking for a player to really break out this year on a national level look no further than Maryland’s Dez Wells.
It’s not as if people haven’t heard of Wells, but his play should enter a different echelon in 2013-14 without Alex Len as his running mate. Wells will be the definite go-to guy for the Terps this year, and his speed and quickness with the ball will particularly stand out.
The former Xavier Musketeer can hit from the outside, but he is particularly effective getting to the rim. If Maryland is going to contend with Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse and the rest of the ACC in its final season in the league, it needs Wells to break a few ankles.
If Louisville has a challenger in the American Athletic Conference it may be Connecticut.
The Huskies’ best chance at competing with the defending champs is their point guard. Few players in the entire nation are as quick as Shabazz Napier, and he is not shy when it comes to using that speed.
Napier is an all-around superstar who averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. When he breaks ankles on the offensive end he has an impressive enough basketball IQ to know whether to take it himself or kick it out to open shooters.
Look for Napier to play his way onto NBA radars in 2013-14, largely because of his ability to blow past defenders.
Jahii Carson is one of the most underappreciated players in the nation, partially because a large majority of his games are played after fans and sportswriters are sleeping.
The Arizona State guard is arguably the fastest player in the country in terms of pure speed, and he knows how to use that natural ability to help his team win. Few defenders can keep up with his ball-handling skills, and he can get to the rim with relative ease.
Carson averaged nearly 19 points a game as a freshman and will look to expand on that with a year of college basketball experience under his belt. There will be plenty of broken ankles on the floor when the Sun Devils are playing.
Follow and interact with college basketball writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.