Few things are more valuable to a college basketball team than a player who can be counted on to make a key basket—unless it's the same player also being the right man to make a big defensive stop or secure a clutch rebound. Jack-of-all-trades types aren’t just limited to glue-guy supporting roles anymore, as many of the game’s biggest stars are showing their versatility on a nightly basis.
One of those stars is Duke freshman Jabari Parker, who has exploded onto the scene as an overpowering scoring weapon from his power forward spot. Of course, it doesn’t hurt the Blue Devils any that Parker is also one of the nation’s toughest defenders, able to shine in the paint or on the perimeter.
Herein, a closer look at Duke’s young leader and his place among the most multitalented players in the country. Breadth and quality of contributions are both taken into account in these rankings, whose statistics include all games prior to Thursday's action.
As unusual combinations go, Frank Kaminsky has one of the oddest (and best) in the country. The Wisconsin center is blocking nearly two shots per game while still shooting better than .400 from beyond the three-point arc.
Kaminsky leads the Badgers with 14.6 points a night, many of them on the treys he knocks down so fluidly. He’s not the best rebounder by the standards of 7-foot Big Ten centers, but he’s not half-bad at 5.8 boards per contest.
Chaz Williams would be doing plenty to keep the Minutemen atop the Atlantic 10 if he were “only” handing out the second-most assists in the country (7.9 per game). For UMass’ 5’9” leader, though, passing is just one part of the equation.
Williams is also the top scorer for his 22nd-ranked squad, averaging 16.3 points a night while shooting .449 from long range. His defense hasn’t been quite as devastating as in previous seasons, but the senior is still grabbing 1.2 steals per contest, too.
Most of the nation’s top shot-blockers this season—Chris Obekpa of St. John’s, Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein—are defensive specialists who rarely make a dent in the scoring column.
The striking counterexample is Jordan Mickey, who’s been one of LSU’s top offensive weapons with 13.9 points per game.
The high-flying 6’8” freshman is doing much of that damage on dunks, using the same athleticism that’s fueling his 3.6 blocks a night. He’s putting his 220 pounds of muscle to good use, too, grabbing 8.4 rebounds per contest.
Point guards have a fair share of versatility built into their job description, with points, assists and steals all coming under their purview. Even so, few players in 2013-14 have checked all those boxes at such a high level as Jerian Grant is doing.
Grant’s 19.1 points per game include a career-best .404 three-point shooting performance. He’s also dishing out 6.4 assists a night and making his presence felt on defense with 2.1 steals per contest.
He’s not exactly a top-tier scorer, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more valuable glue guy on any team than Shannon Scott.
The first-year starter has given the Buckeyes everything they need during an 11-0 start—including 7.8 points per game, not a negligible contribution on this offense-starved team.
Even bigger for OSU have been Scott’s 3.7 assists a night, which have provided badly needed support for senior PG Aaron Craft.
Scott’s been even more impressive on D, nearly matching the lethal Craft with 2.3 steals per contest and even (at 6’1”) providing meaningful rebounding with 4.3 boards a game.
Although he’s been subject to the extreme inconsistency that’s plagued his whole North Carolina team this year, James Michael McAdoo is a fearsome opponent when he's at his best.
He nearly saved his teammates’ terrible showing against Belmont with his 27-point, 13-rebound showcase.
On the year, McAdoo is averaging 13.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, even as he’s ceded his starring role on the Tar Heels to Marcus Paige.
What sets him apart from other talented power forwards are his defensive instincts: his 1.4 steals a night put him just behind PG Paige for the team lead, and he’s also blocking 1.3 shots per contest.
He may be an abysmal three-point shooter (.190 this year after shooting .196 as a sophomore), but Pierria Henry brings plenty of other skills to the table to make up for it.
The 6’4” point guard is tied for second on the 49ers with 11.9 points per game, and he’s pulling in 5.6 boards a night for the No. 21 rebounding squad in the country.
Henry is even better in more traditional point-guard categories, as he’s in the midst of a career year with 5.8 assists per contest. He’s also an elite defender whose 2.9 steals a game place him ninth nationally.
Iowa has been one of the season's surprise success stories, ranking in the top 10 nationally in scoring, rebounding, assists and field-goal defense.
One of the key contributors to all those lofty numbers has been senior star Roy Devyn Marble, a swingman who’s gone from primary scorer to Lord High Everything Else this year.
Marble’s 15.9 points per game are leading the team again, but so are his 3.8 assists and 2.3 steals a night.
He’s even making a dent on the boards, though his 3.6 rebounds per contest don’t measure up to the numbers posted by teammates Jarrod Uthoff and Aaron White.
With his 6’9”, 242-pound frame, Shaq Goodwin was always a good bet to take over as Memphis’ leading rebounder this season. As it turns out, his contributions have gone far beyond his 6.3 boards per game.
Goodwin has been a much more effective scorer than anticipated, with his 12.9 points a night placing second on the Tigers roster behind senior Joe Jackson.
He’s also been a devastating defender, averaging 1.2 steals per game and adding 1.9 blocks a night to go with them.
When NBA scouts look at Spencer Dinwiddie, they see one of the toughest perimeter defenders in the country, a 6’6” guard with the potential to stand up to the James Hardens and Paul Georges at the next level.
When Colorado fans look at Dinwiddie, they see the reason their team has a chance to compete in the Pac-12.
The junior guard has bootstrapped himself into becoming a decent floor leader, raising his assists to 4.0 per game while cutting down to 1.6 turnovers a night.
He’s also the team’s leading scorer (15.5 points per contest, well ahead of center Josh Scott), its most accurate three-point shooter (.400) and even a solid rebounder at 3.6 boards per game.
Iowa State’s success in 2013-14 hasn’t been built as entirely out of transfers as the last couple of seasons' worth of Cyclones teams, but ex-Marshall PG DeAndre Kane is certainly doing his part.
The senior floor leader is contributing 14.1 points and a team-high 5.8 assists per game to an offense that tops the nation in both categories.
Kane is also pulling in a remarkable 7.4 rebounds a night, a testament to his 6’4”, 200-pound frame. He hasn’t been quite as productive a defender as he was for the Thundering Herd, but he’s still grabbing 1.1 steals per contest.
As bad as Pittsburgh’s offense looked in Tuesday’s loss to Cincinnati, the Panthers are still 16th in the country in assists.
The leader of that effort, rather than sophomore PG James Robinson, has been senior swingman Lamar Patterson, who’s almost doubled last year’s passing performance by dishing out 4.7 assists a night.
Patterson is also the Panthers’ leading scorer (15.9 points per game), but he’s had nearly as big an impact on the defensive end. He’s grabbing 1.6 steals and pulling in 4.6 rebounds per contest (not a half-bad figure for a 6’5” wing player on the hulking Panthers).
Aaron Bright’s season-ending shoulder injury forced Stanford to find a replacement for its best natural point guard. Few other teams would’ve opted for a replacement who stands 6’10” and weighs 240 pounds, but Dwight Powell can do the job (4.2 assists per game).
Powell is a prolific scorer (14.6 points a night) and the second-leading rebounder (8.1 boards per contest) on a typically towering Stanford front line.
He’s even showing up at the defensive end, where running mate Josh Huestis handles shot-blocking, and he excels in forcing turnovers (1.6 steals per game).
For the third year in a row, Louisville senior Russ Smith is among the nation’s best at turning defense into offense.
The Cardinals dynamo leads his team in scoring (16.6 points per game) and steals (1.8 a night), using his peerless open-floor speed to pile up fast-break points.
The difference in Smith’s game in 2013-14 has been a massive improvement in his passing ability. His assists have jumped from last year’s career-high 2.9 a night to 5.2, a nice complement to another career-best: his 3.4 rebounds per contest.
The last time Tim Frazier played a full season (in 2011-12), his Nittany Lions were so undermanned that he led the team in virtually every stat category. This year, the senior PG has a lot more help, but he’s still filling up the box score on a nightly basis.
Frazier stands third nationally with 7.6 assists per game, and he’s scoring 18.4 points a night to go with them. He’s doing plenty as a defender, too, averaging 3.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals per contest.
It’s a measure of Jordan Adams’ offensive contributions that he gets most of his recognition for what he does on that end of the floor despite the fact that he ranks third in the country in steals (3.5 per game).
Then again, he is one of the Pac-12’s most dangerous scorers, pouring in 21.2 points a night.
At 6’5”, 220 pounds, SG Adams is built more like a forward, and he rebounds like one, too (4.6 boards per contest). He’s even a respectable distributor, though his 2.7 assists per game leave him pretty far down the list at pass-happy UCLA.
He can’t match Wooden Award rival Doug McDermott for pure scoring ability, but Marcus Smart has the decisive edge when it comes to versatility.
Oklahoma State’s No. 7 ranking owes an enormous amount to Smart’s 18 points per game as well as his other talents.
Just like last year, Smart’s raw assist numbers (3.8 a night) pale in comparison to his leadership in the high-octane Cowboys offense.
He’s even more fearsome as a defender, pulling in 4.8 rebounds and snatching 3.0 steals per contest, with the latter figure placing him fifth in the country.
Jabari Parker has been among the top all-around defensive weapons in college basketball, blocking 1.4 shots and recording 1.1 steals per game. Of course, the freshman has gotten a lot more headlines with his prodigious offensive punch.
Parker is the ACC’s top scorer with 22 points per game, including a dazzling .469 shooting performance from beyond the arc. He’s also Duke’s leading rebounder—7.6 boards a night—despite being a natural SF playing out of position at power forward.
A playmaker as a sophomore and a primary scorer as a junior, Shabazz Napier has given UConn the best of both worlds as a senior. The most meaningful remaining link to the 2011 national champs, Napier is piling up 15 points and 6.1 assists per game.
He’s always stood out as a fierce competitor, and his 6.8 rebounds a night reflect that trait far more than they do his 6’1”, 180-pound frame. He’s also as dogged a defender as ever, snatching a career-high 2.1 steals per contest.
Even without the graduated Larry Drew II, UCLA has one of the most overwhelming offenses in the country. The key to that success has been Kyle Anderson, the best point forward college basketball has seen in many years.
The 6’9” Anderson is leading the Bruins in both assists (6.7 per game) and rebounds (8.7 a night) while still scoring 13.8 points per contest. On top of all that, he’s been a first-rate defender who’s posting 1.0 blocks and 1.5 steals per game.