10 NCAA Basketball Players Who Are Unstoppable in 1-on-1 Situations
In a sport featuring a bewildering variety of defenses, some NCAA basketball players specialize in reducing the game to its simplest form: one man with the ball and one man trying to stop him. When these top-tier scoring threats can face down a single defender without help, the results end up on highlight reels.
One surprise addition to the upper echelons in 2013-14 was Kansas State’s Marcus Foster. Under the radar as a recruit, the 6’2” Wildcat quickly found himself over the rim as one of the top freshman scorers in the nation, thanks in large measure to a toughness that belies his size.
Read on for a closer look at Foster’s imposing skill set, along with nine more players who demand multiple defenders whenever they get the ball in their hands. Note that in the interest of focusing on scorers who have proven themselves at the college level, incoming freshmen were omitted from consideration for this list.
DeAndre Mathieu, Minnesota
The NBA defection of Arizona State’s Jahii Carson means that DeAndre Mathieu stands alone as the quickest guard in college hoops. Shabazz Napier's graduation leaves the former JUCO star at the top of the nation’s ball-handling list, too.
Standing just 5’9” and reluctant to use his three-point shot, Mathieu is more vulnerable to the double-team (and more likely to pass out of it) than many others on this list.
With his ability to freeze a single defender off the dribble, though, he’s still a constant threat to get to the rim whenever he touches the ball.
Marcus Paige, North Carolina
As a freshman, Marcus Paige rarely got the opportunity to score at all, busy as he was with handing out assists to the Tar Heels’ star-studded lineup.
Last season, thrust into the primary scorer’s role himself, Paige showed that he was just as dangerous as the hot-shooting wings he’d been setting up.
Paige has the requisite speed to spearhead Roy Williams’ fast break—meaning he’s among the fastest guards in the country—but he also brings a sensational shooting touch to the table.
His ability to pull up for three-pointers or mid-range jumpers is vital when the 6'1", 175-pounder faces bigger defenders.
Marcus Foster, Kansas State
A major benefit of the motion offense, favored by Kansas State coach Bruce Weber, is that it creates shots for scorers who aren’t especially adept at one-on-one play.
Fortunately for Weber, whose team is still getting the hang of his system, he had Marcus Foster to bail out his Wildcats when those shots weren’t forthcoming.
The 6’2” Foster has the muscle to score over bigger defenders in the paint, but he’s not limited to the dribble drive for winning one-on-one matchups. With his .395 three-point shooting, he’s happy to bury a trey over foes who give him too much space.
Dez Wells, Maryland
He’s flown under the radar on some disappointing Maryland squads, but Dez Wells is as devastating a finisher as any wing player in the country.
Wells’ ability to dunk over multiple foes makes it a given that any opponent stuck facing him in a one-on-one situation is in for a bad time.
The 6’5” swingman is an elusive ball-handler with an outstanding first step, both of which help to make up for his suspect jump shot.
Once he gets into the vicinity of the paint, he also excels at using his muscular 215-pound frame to draw contact and pile up three-point plays.
Isaiah Taylor, Texas
One hallmark of a great offensive player is the ability to score even when the defense knows exactly what’s coming. Isaiah Taylor established his bona fides in that department simply by scoring 12.7 points per game as a freshman.
No opponent expects the .222 long-range shooter to do anything but attack off the dribble, and yet Taylor routinely slithered through multiple defenders to get his points at the hoop.
His scoring average is likely to take a hit with the arrival of Myles Turner, but the numbers won’t be able to hide his ability to drive the lane against even the toughest foes.
Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
With a career three-point accuracy of .410, Kevin Pangos has no problem forcing defenders to play up on him. With his blazing speed, he has even less difficulty blowing past them once they do.
Playing on Gonzaga Bulldogs rosters loaded with high-scoring big men, Pangos has typically done most of his damage in transition, where he can catch hapless opponents on an island.
On this year’s Gonzaga team, though, he’ll get more chances in the half court—enough to top 2013-14’s career-best 14.4 points per game with ease.
Chasson Randle, Stanford
It’s no coincidence that Johnny Dawkins’ first trip to the Big Dance as Stanford’s coach came in Chasson Randle’s breakout offensive season.
The junior guard finally got the freedom to attack as a scorer, and the result was an 18.8 point-per-game average and (ultimately) a trip to the Sweet 16.
Although the sharp-shooting Randle certainly benefited from Dwight Powell’s point forward skills, he created a healthy proportion of the Cardinal offense himself.
His speed with the ball in his hands is enough to open eyes even in the up-tempo environment of the Pac-12.
Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin
The NBA’s penchant for drafting big men far above their proven performance tends to strip the college ranks of any remotely effective low-post scorers on an annual basis.
Frank Kaminsky is a rare exception to that rule, and the 7’0” senior-to-be is poised to put on an offensive clinic. Although Kaminsky is a major three-point threat, too, it’s his work with his back to the basket that earns him a spot here.
As he showed by shredding the towering Arizona front line for 28 points in the Elite Eight, his long arms and silky shot make him a daunting assignment for multiple defenders and an impossible one for a single opponent (even a fellow 7-footer).
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
On the all-too-frequent nights when freshman Noah Vonleh wasn’t in sync as a scorer, Yogi Ferrell spent plenty of time going one-on-five.
Ferrell’s 17.3 points per game are a testament to how effective he was even when the opposition could afford to throw multiple players at him.
The emergence of the 6’0” floor leader’s three-point shot (which went from .303 accuracy as a freshman to .400 last year) gave him a way to punish defenders who hung back.
Once he draws his man in with the threat of a long-range bomb, Ferrell can easily juke past him with his exceptional quickness and ball-handling prowess.
Joseph Young, Oregon
When Joseph Young arrived at Oregon after two seasons with Houston, there was no guarantee that his top-notch scoring numbers would hold up in the face of tougher competition and a more productive group of teammates.
Young, however, proved that his capabilities extended far beyond lighting up inferior Conference USA defenses. As a junior, the 6’2” scoring ace poured in a career-best 18.9 points per game for the Ducks.
He created most of those looks himself with his deft ball-handling, though it didn’t exactly hurt that his lethal three-point shot (.415 from beyond the arc) kept defenders close.
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