Top 25 College Basketball Players Who Need to "Step It Up" in 2010-2011
With the 2009-2010 season in the books, it is never too early to take a look into what next season will hold for college basketball and its fans.
A number of players will enter next season with an opportunity to achieve star-power or an opportunity to lead their team.
With some of the nations' top players making decisions on if they should declare for the NBA draft or not, here's a look at some of the top returning players who need to "Step It Up" next season.
No. 25: Darius Miller, Kentucky
Name: Darius Miller
09-10 Stats: 6.5ppg, 2.5rpg, 1.5apg
With word that Kentucky's four stud freshmen have all declared for the NBA draft, it may be time for Wildcat fans to move forward. Although their is speculation that Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton may reconsider, many mock drafts have them as first round selections and they may be all but gone.
Patrick Patterson has not made a decision on returning to Kentucky or moving onto the NBA, but the only remaining starter, outside of Patterson's decision, that is set to return is Darius Miller.
Miller, who found a solid position as a role player for Kentucky, may find himself in that position again next season, especially if Coach Callipari is able to sign another top recruiting class.
However, despite all the talent this past season, the Wildcats were knocked out the the Elite 8 by West Virginia. Miller has an opportunity to be an "X Factor" in a Kentucky team who could find themselves based on pure talent yet again in 2010-2011.
No. 24: Perry Jones, Baylor
Name: Perry Jones
High School: Duncanville
Without playing a collegiate game, Perry Jones has to be considered a key element for the Baylor Bears next season.
With the impending loss of Ekpe Udoh, who is expected to be a lottery pick in the NBA Draft, despite no word on if he is declaring or not, Jones comes in with an opportunity to contribute right away.
At 6'11" Perry Jones can contribute inside for Baylor, a team who made it to the Elite 8 this past season.
Leading scorer LaceDarius Dunn returns and will have a shot at the Big 12 title next season.
*Photo Credit: nbadraft.net
No. 23: Marcus Morris, Kansas
Name: Marcus Morris
09-10 Stats: 12.8ppg, 6.1rpg, 1.0apg
At times last year, Morris showed superstar potential, a force down low who proved tough to stop.
However, living under the spotlight of big man Cole Aldrich, point guard Sherron Collins, and stud freshman Xavier Henry, limited Marcus Morris.
Next season, this will be Marcus Morris' team and the Jayhawks will look to work both offensively and defensively around him.
After being upset in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Northern Iowa, Morris will be the leading returner of a team with unfinished business to take care of.
No. 22: Nolan Smith, Duke
Name: Nolan Smith
09-10 Stats: 17.4ppg, 2.8rpg, 3.0apg
Serving as a vital part of the Blue Devils National Championship run, Smith will look to take over a Duke team who loses some key statters.
Jon Scheyer, Brain Zoubek, and Lance Thomas all graduate with a national championship. And with the impending NBA decision weighing on the shoulders of Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith has already said he is returning for his senior year.
Incoming freshman stud Kyrie Irving will help the load in the backcourt for Duke, but Nolan Smith will be the leading experience powering the 2010-2011 Blue Devils.
No. 21: Reggie Jackson, Boston College
Name: Reggie Jackson
09-10 Stats: 12.9pp, 5.7rpg, 4.5apg
Through his first two seasons at Boston College, it has seemed Reggie Jackson has been on the verge of stardom.
With a new coach, and a roster that returns all five starters from a disappointing 09-10 campaign, expectations for Jackson and the Eagles are increasing.
Steve Donahue, who took Cornell to the Sweet 16 this past season, takes over the reigns on the bench for a Boston College program that looks to begin a new era of up-tempo and aggressive play, one that may fit the mold of Reggie Jackson perfectly.
No. 20: Samardo Samuels, Louisville
Name: Samardo Samuels
09-10 Stats: 15.3ppg, 7.0rpg, 1.2apg
Samuels was a highly hyped big man during his freshman year, however, that hype declined slightly this past season.
With work to do heading into next season, Samuels looks to regain the fire that followed him his freshman year. This Louisville team is centered around their big man and their success next year is powered by big No. 15 inside.
No. 19: Michael Snaer, Florida State
Name: Michael Snaer
09-10 Stats: 8.8ppg, 2.7rpg, 1.3apg
The former McDonald's All-American has some excellent potential at Florida State as he prepares for his sophomore season.
If big men Solomon Alabi and Chris Singleton return, the Seminoles could have some hype in the ACC next season. Snaer will look to build upon his 8.8ppg from last season and emerge as the featured guy in the backcourt.
If Snaer can make the jump from his freshman year to his sophomore year, Florida State may be threatening for an ACC title.
*Photo Credit: palmbeachpost.com
No. 18: Ryan Harrow, North Carolina State
Name: Ryan Harrow
High School: Walton
The only other freshman on this list is Ryan Harrow.
Harrow should take over the point guard responsibilities from day one. And after an NIT appearance this past season, the stud freshman might be the key for NC State to finally find some improvement.
Big man and leading scorer Tracy Smith returns, along with improving sophomore-to-be Scott Wood. Harrow might be the missing piece on offense for head coach Sidney Lowe.
*Photo Credit: wolfpackhoops.blogspot.com
No. 17: Elliot Williams, Memphis
Name: Elliot Williams
09-10 Stats: 17.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 3.8apg
Entering what will be his second season as head coach, Josh Pastner has one of the top recruiting classes in the country and a hype that might have Memphis back among the tops in the country.
Elliot Williams is the motor that makes this team go.
With experience at both Duke and now Memphis, Williams returns as the team's leading scorer averaging just under 18 ppg. His leadership may be the key to just how good this Tigers' team can be in 2010-2011.
No. 16: Kim English, Missouri
Name: Kim English
09-10 Stats: 14.0ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.1apg
Missouri has a solid crew returning for 2010-2011. Kim English is the leader of this crew.
After an Elite 8 appearance two seasons ago and a second round exit this past season in the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers have another trip on their minds for next year.
The up-tempo, in-your-face style that Mike Anderson instates at Missouri is one that fits into English's hands. And heading into his junior season he will be the motor that makes it go for the Tigers.
No. 15: Alex Oriahki, Connecticut
Name: Alex Oriahki
09-10 Stats: 5.0ppg, 6.6rpg, 0.4apg
After a disappointing season for the Huskies that ended in the NIT, UConn will look to respond in 2010-2011.
However, the losses of Jerome Dyson, Stanley Robinson, and Gavin Edwards will be tough to replace. Starting with Kemba Walker in the backcourt, the key has to be down low with Oriahki and Ater Majok.
Oriahki was a highly touted recruit coming into UConn, and after averaging 5.0ppg and 6.6rpg, the big man will look to build on those numbers and become an anchor in the paint for Connecticut.
Photo Credit: rushthecourt.net
No. 14: Jeffrey Taylor, Vanderbilt
Name: Jeffrey Taylor
09-10 Stats: 13.3ppg, 5.2rpg, 1.7apg
With leading scorers, Jermaine Beal and A.J. Ogilvy moving on, Jeffrey Taylor will enter the 2010-2011 season as the team's leading returning scorer.
John Jenkins will look to build off a great freshman season, but Taylor has to be the man if Vanderbilt hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament.
No. 13: Jordan Williams, Maryland
Name: Jordan Williams
09-10 Stats: 9.6ppg, 8.6rpg, 0.2apg
Jordan Williams emerged as a solid big man for the Terrapins in his freshman season. He averaged a team best 8.6 rebounds per game and just under 10 points for a team that was able to advance to the second round in the NCAA Tournament.
Greivis Vasquez is gone and for Gary Williams and company, so Jordan Williams will most likely become the centerpiece for Maryland next season.
Can Williams average a double-double next year?
No. 12: Elias Harris, Gonzaga
Name: Elias Harris
09-10 Stats: 14.9ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.1apg
As a freshman, Harris averaged a team-best 7.1 rebounds per game. And as the team's returning leading scorer, big things will be expected from the Zags forward.
Gonzaga has been the WCC's team of the decade, no doubt. And with Harris leading the charge for the Bulldogs in 2010-2011, an opportunity to continue that dominance looks likely.
No. 11: Christian Watford, Indiana
Name: Christian Watford
09-10 Stats: 12.0ppg, 6.9rpg, 0.6apg
The last two seasons have been ones to forget for the Indiana Hoosiers. Can they finally break through with a young crew gaining more experience?
Christian Watford was the go-to-guy down low for Indiana last season, and alongside guards Maurice Creek and Verdell Jones III, the Hoosiers will look to continue improving.
Watford will look to build on his 12 points, 6 boards a night numbers heading into 2010-2011.
No. 10: Kenny Boynton, Florida
Name: Kenny Boynton
09-10 Stats: 14.0ppg, 2.6rpg, 2.7apg
In 2009-2010, Boynton led the Gators in scoring as a freshman at 14.0ppg.
While returning much of their contributions from a team that made the NCAA Tournament this past season, along with the additions of incoming freshmen Patric Young and Casey Prather, the Gators have an increasing hype heading into next season.
Boynton is the catalyst in Billy Donovan's offense.
No. 9: Dee Bost, Mississippi State
Name: Dee Bost
09-10 Stats: 13.0ppg, 4.4rpg, 5.2apg
Mississippi State was a few tenths of a second away from making the NCAA Tournament, however, a late tip-in by Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins forced overtime in an SEC Championship game that the Wildcats eventually won.
Moving on to 2010-2011, the Bulldogs return Ravern Johnson, but their point guard Dee Bost will be the go-to-guy for Mississippi State.
With shot-blocking king Jarvis Varnado moving on, the Bulldogs have to center their offense production around Dee Bost. Bost led the team with over 5 assists per game and might be one of the better point guards in the SEC.
Despite the loss of Varnado, Mississippi State can still win the SEC West in 2010-2011.
No. 8: Travis Leslie, Georgia
Name: Travis Leslie
09-10 Stats: 14.8ppg, 6.8rpg, 2.5apg
Leslie has the potential to be an emerging superstar. His athleticism is some of the best in the nation, just ask DeMarcus Cousins about his dunking ability.
Georgia returns much of their key players from a disappointing season in 2009-2010. Travis Leslie will look to make a name for himself, if he hasn't already.
No. 7: Derrick Williams, Arizona
Name: Derrick Williams
09-10 Stats: 15.7ppg, 7.1rpg, 0.7apg
Arizona saw its streak of NCAA Tournament appearances come to an end this past season, but there were a few bright spots for Sean Miller in his first season as head coach, and freshman Derrick Williams was one of them.
Williams led the team in scoring and rebounding with 15.7ppg and 7.1rpg.
Arizona has a lot of work to do to get back to its prime, but Williams is a great focal point to start. Expect Sean Miller to use Williams to his advantage in 2010-2011.
No. 6: C.J. Harris, Wake Forest
Name: C.J. Harris
09-10 Stats: 9.9ppg, 1.8rpg, 1.2apg
This certainly could be an interesting season for the Demon Deacons. After losing Al-Farouq Aminu to the NBA Draft and Ishmael Smith, L.D. Williams, and Chas McFarland to graduation, Wake Forest decided to let go of head coach Dino Gaudio as well.
Heading into 2010-2011, the key will be sophomore-to-be C.J. Harris. He is the team's returning leading scorer at just under 10 points per game and needs to show leadership to get Wake Forest back to where they want to be.
*Photo Credit: newsobserver.com
No. 5: Isaiah Thomas, Washington
Name: Isaiah Thomas
09-10 Stats: 16.9ppg, 3.9rpg, 3.2apg
After a disappointing regular season, but an NCAA Tournament bid and run to the Sweet 16, the Huskies have realized they might be the early team to beat in the Pac-10 next season.
Leading scorer Quincy Pondexter has graduated, and the key to success for Washington lies in the hands of its point guard Isaiah Thomas.
Can Thomas lead Washington back to the NCAA Tournament?
No. 4: Jordan Hamilton, Texas
Name: Jordan Hamilton
09-10 Stats: 10.0ppg, 3.7rpg, 1.5apg
After a great start to the 2009-2010 season, the Texas Longhorns fell apart. A first round exit in the NCAA Tournament has been followed up by Damion James and Avery Bradley declaring for the NBA Draft.
Jordan Hamilton loves to shoot and has the ability to score in bunches, making him Texas' most dangerous player in 2010-2011. If Hamilton is willing to take on the challenge, the young sophomore might be the leader of a Texas team looking to respond to a disappointing ending a few weeks ago.
No. 3: Scotty Hopson, Tennessee
Name: Scotty Hopson
09-10 Stats: 12.2ppg, 3.4rpg, 1.2apg
Tennessee loses an abundance of talent after their first Elite 8 appearance in school history just a few weeks ago. Seniors Wayne Chism, J.P. Prince, and Bobby Maze all move on.
This leaves Scotty Hopson as the go-to-guy in 2010-2011. Hopson is a pure shooter and has the ability to get out ahead of the pack in the fast break.
Can Hopson take on the leadership role in Tennessee?
No. 2: John Henson, North Carolina
Name: John Henson
09-10 Stats: 5.7ppg, 4.4rpg, 0.9apg
Henson did not exactly live up to his superstar hype as a freshman, but his sophomore year might be vital to himself and North Carolina as a team.
After winning the National Championship in 2009, the Tar Heels struggled mightily in conference play and were considered one of the more disappointing teams in 2009-2010.
Henson, will be one of many keys for North Carolina next season, as they look to bounce back. At times, he showed his potential, but to do it on a consistent basis has to be Henson's goal for next season.
No. 1 Brandon Triche, Syracuse
Name: Brandon Triche
09-10 Stats: 8.1ppg, 1.8rpg, 2.8apg
Syracuse shocked a few people this season, having great success throughout the year.
However, the graduation of starters Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku, and the expected departure of potential Top 5 draft pick, Wesley Johnson, has Syracuse back to where they were at the end of last season.
Point guard Brandon Triche had a solid freshman season, and the ability for Cuse to rebound next season may rely on him.
Both offensively, at the point position, and defensively at the top of Syracuse's tough 2-3 zone, Triche will be called upon at both ends of the floor.
One thing is certain though, this past season has proved that Syracuse and Jim Boeheim shouldn't ever be doubted.