The Most Well-Rounded Stars in College Basketball
Like MacGyver with his Swiss army knife, a college basketball coach loves to be able to turn to one player to solve any problem. Victor Oladipo made a run at last year’s Wooden Award by giving Indiana whatever it needed at the moment, from a clutch steal to a well-timed drive to the hole.
One star who’s well acquainted with playing multiple roles is UConn’s Shabazz Napier. The Huskies point guard jumped into the No. 1 scorer’s job last year while also keying a physical defense.
Herein, a closer look at Napier and 19 more college hoops standouts who contribute to their teams in many different areas.
20. Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Stat Line: 10 points, 3.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game
Although Aaron Craft isn’t exactly known as a world-class scorer, he did post a career high in points last season, a figure that included some huge clutch baskets.
He’s also an underrated distributor, particularly given the Buckeyes’ shortage of reliable offensive weapons.
Of course, Craft’s real expertise is on the defensive end, where he’s the country’s most disruptive playmaker. His box-score numbers don’t come close to reflecting the magnitude of the effect he has on opposing offenses.
19. Dwight Powell, Stanford
Stat Line: 14.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.1 blocks per game
At 6’10”, 235 lbs, it’s a reasonable bet that Dwight Powell would have a lot more blocks on his stat ledger if teammate Josh Huestis weren’t racking up quite as many for himself.
Still, Powell is a steady presence in the middle for a Stanford team whose undersized guards definitely benefit from another deterrent in the paint.
It’s Powell’s offense, though, that earns him a spot on this list as one of the nation’s most accomplished passers from the post. His assist totals are even more remarkable for the fact that he amassed them while also leading the Cardinal in scoring.
18. Fuquan Edwin, Seton Hall
Stat Line: 16.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game, .412 three-point shooting
On a Seton Hall squad with little else going for it, Fuquan Edwin took over the starring role last season. The 6’6” swingman led the Pirates in scoring and finished second in rebounding (trailing only 6’9”, 270-lbs Gene Teague).
Just as valuable for an undermanned team was Edwin’s sensational defense. He finished in the national top 15 in steals for the second year in a row, and there’s no reason to expect that streak to stop for his senior campaign.
17. Jordan Adams, UCLA
Stat Line: 15.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game
At the beginning of the 2012-13 season, when Shabazz Muhammad was serving an NCAA suspension, Jordan Adams kept the UCLA offense afloat.
Now that Muhammad is a Minnesota Timberwolf, Adams will be the leading man in new coach Steve Alford’s offense.
In addition to his scoring chops, Adams was the Bruins’ best defender by leaps and bounds. He’d be higher on this list if he’d dished out a few more assists, and with Larry Drew II gone, he’ll probably do just that in his sophomore season.
16. Isaiah Austin, Baylor
Stat Line: 13 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game, .333 three-point shooting
It would be easy to watch Isaiah Austin play offense for long stretches without having any idea that he’s a center.
The slender 7’1” sophomore loves to float out by the three-point arc like a poor man's Kevin Durant, catching and shooting off screens or dribbling into the paint for runners.
Austin is an exceptional ball-handler for a player his size, though his long-range shot still needs some work. That said, he definitely has the skills to make an impact inside as well, as his shot-blocking and rebounding numbers attest.
15. Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa
Stat Line: 15 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game
Iowa’s top two point guard options a year ago—Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons—were both freshmen, and the youngsters often needed a safety valve to rescue the offense.
That job fell to swingman Roy Devyn Marble, who led the Hawkeyes in assists as well as scoring.
The 6’6” Marble, now a senior, also played a big role in helping Iowa rank 10th in the nation in rebounding en route to the NIT title game. He finished just off the team lead in steals per game, but actually had the highest steal total on the roster.
14. Geron Johnson, Memphis
Stat Line: 10.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game
Any of the Tigers’ elite trio of returning guards—also including Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford—could make a case for a spot on this list. Geron Johnson gets the nod largely because, at 6’3”, he was the best rebounder of the group by a wide margin.
The junior also led Memphis in steals, no mean feat considering the team-wide pressure Josh Pastner likes to put on opposing ball-handlers. Johnson's offensive contributions were quieter, but he did finish second on the roster in assists.
13. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
Stat Line: 15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals per game
Spencer Dinwiddie is one of the toughest perimeter defenders in the country, and Colorado’s lack of a real point guard gives him ample opportunities to prove it.
On any given night, he could find himself matched up with an opponent’s primary ball-handler or chasing a shooting guard through screens.
Offensively, the junior led the Buffs in scoring and assists a year ago while finishing just behind Askia Booker in three-pointers made. He’s at his best slashing to the rim, where he can get the most out of his 6’6”, 200-lbs frame.
12. Quinn Cook, Duke
Stat Line: 11.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game, .393 three-point shooting
It’s no surprise to see an impressive long-range shooting season from a Duke guard. What’s more noteworthy, especially from last year’s diminutive roster, is a guard who actually contributes as a rebounder, which 6’2” Quinn Cook certainly did.
Cook’s passing was a revelation in his first year as a starter, and now he’ll be called on as a leader on a very young Blue Devils team.
Expect his scoring numbers to rise as he, rather than Seth Curry, spends more time with the ball in his hands late in the shot clock.
11. Jahii Carson, Arizona State
Stat Line: 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game
The huge majority of Jahii Carson’s success on the basketball court stems from his breathtaking quickness. Even at 5’10”, 180 lbs, he can be an effective rebounder because he comes out of nowhere to grab loose balls.
Those same athletic gifts mean that whenever he comes up with a steal on defense, he’s likely to turn it into a basket on the other end of the floor.
It will be interesting to see if he can keep his assist totals up this season in spite of the losses of scorers Carrick Felix and Evan Gordon.
10. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
Stat Line: n/a
On some of the nation’s more guard-heavy rosters, Andrew Harrison (at 6’6”, 215 lbs) would be a de facto power forward. On a Kentucky team with as much height as some NBA rosters, Harrison is the best freshman point guard in the nation.
His size and power let him pile up rebounds and attack smaller defenders in the paint, but he doesn’t surrender much in the way of quickness, either. Harrison’s physicality as a defender will help him fit right in as he joins the no-holds-barred SEC.
9. Derrick Marks, Boise State
Stat Line: 16.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game, .423 three-point shooting
Derrick Marks and backcourt mate Anthony Drmic comprised one of the top-scoring duos in the country last year, and they’re back for more.
Marks does most of the ball-handling, which helps him lead the team in assists, while Drmic (6’6” to Marks’ 6’3”) gets more rebounds.
Marks’ ball pressure is also a vital weapon for the undersized Broncos, keeping opponents from easily exploiting a shaky interior defense.
Like most small-ball teams, Boise takes plenty of three-pointers, and while Marks doesn’t get a very large share of those attempts, he certainly makes his tries count.
8. Wesley Saunders, Harvard
Stat Line: 16.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game
Harvard’s latest run to the Ivy League championship depended on a trio of high-powered guards. The man who made that small lineup work—and who will make the Crimson a serious NCAA tournament threat again in March—is 6’5” swingman Wesley Saunders.
Saunders’ rebounding and defensive skills allow him to match up with bigger opponents without suffering a major disadvantage. Though he led the team in scoring, he also did plenty of playmaking in support of then-freshman PG Siyani Chambers.
7. Jabari Parker, Duke
Stat Line: n/a
Jabari Parker is the best all-around defensive player in the 2013-14 freshman class. At 6’8”, he has the quickness and agility to guard multiple positions and the instincts to lock down on any type of scorer.
Offensively, Parker can take over as a shooter but is just as likely to set up a teammate with a precision pass. Playing on a Duke team that doesn’t have many low-post options, he’ll be especially valuable for his rebounding acumen.
6. Shabazz Napier, UConn
Stat Line: 17.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals per game, .398 three-point shooting
Last season, with UConn’s roster shredded by transfers and the team banned from the postseason, Shabazz Napier put the Huskies on his back. His assists dipped a little, but only because the depleted squad needed him to carry so much of the scoring load.
The 2013-14 edition of the Huskies will have a lot more experience, so look for Napier to spend a little more time setting up his teammates rather than attacking on his own.
He can still be just as aggressive on defense, too, with high-flying DeAndre Daniels back in the paint to erase any mistakes.
5. Chaz Willliams, UMass
Stat Line: 15.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game
No 5’9” point guard has any business getting 4.2 rebounds per game, but Chaz Williams did it. Between his rebounding and his steals, he shuts down opposing offenses coming and going.
On offense, Williams too often appears to be the only option the Minutemen have, but he still finds enough open teammates to post gaudy assist totals (ranking fifth nationally last year).
He’s shown flashes of impressive three-point shooting, too (.419 as a sophomore in 2011-12), and when he’s hot from long range he’s an even more daunting assignment for a defender.
4. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas
Stat Line: n/a
Ranked No. 1 in the incoming recruiting class, Andrew Wiggins is set to be the star of the rebuilt Jayhawks. He’ll get every chance to lead the Big 12 in scoring with his arsenal of jumpers, runners and acrobatic dunks.
The rest of Wiggins’ game won’t get as much time in the spotlight, but that’s not because it isn’t just as strong. He’s an unselfish teammate who knows how and when to pass, an athletic rebounder and a hard-working defender.
3. Jerrelle Benimon, Towson
Stat Line: 17.1 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.9 blocks per game
Needless to say, Jerrelle Benimon—Towson’s leader in every stat category listed above—is indispensable to the Tigers’ hopes of a Cinderella NCAA tournament run this season.
The best team in what’s left of the CAA, Towson runs everything through its 6’8”, 245-lbs PF, the third-leading rebounder in all of Division I.
The senior started his college career at Georgetown, and has the physicality you’d expect from a Hoya big man. Sadly, he also has the free-throw shooting (.654), one of the only faults to find with his all-around game.
2. Tim Frazier, Penn State
Stat Line (2011-12): 18.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.3 steals per game
The ruptured Achilles that cost Tim Frazier virtually all of last season may turn out to give him the best possible ending to his college career.
The fifth-year senior rejoins a Nittany Lions team that’s far more talented than the one he left, a cellar-dwelling squad that saw him lead the roster in all four of the above stats.
Frazier is a devastating penetrator at 6’1”, 170 lbs, and his assist totals should really take off with SG D.J. Newbill to feed.
He’s also likely to see his rebounding numbers dip a little, not because he’s working any less hard on the boards but because teammate Ross Travis is vacuuming up so many for himself.
1. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Stat Line: 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.0 steals per game
Very few freshman point guards get anywhere close to 22 blocks in a season, but that’s the least of Marcus Smart’s impressive numbers.
The 6’4”, 220-lbs cannonball led Oklahoma State in scoring and tied for second in rebounding while transforming an unheralded team into a Big 12 contender.
As a sophomore, Smart is a good bet to improve on his already-solid assist totals (especially with running mates Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash back).
He’ll be hard-pressed to play any better defensively, though, after placing second in the country in steals last year.
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