College Basketball's 10 Best Returning Players
In this current day and age of one-and-done college basketball, it seems fans are now more worried about debating the impact that hotshot freshmen like North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes or Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger will have on the game instead of talking about some of the great returning players who have already proved their worth.
While it’s true the balance of power has shifted to the freshman class because of this current setup, that certainly doesn’t mean that we don’t have some great veteran competitors remaining in college basketball.
Here’s a look at ten returning college-basketball players who will look to continue showing off their terrific talents in the 2010-2011 season.
Forward: Kyle Singler, Duke
Kyle Singler turned out to be the key player during Duke’s run to a national championship in last year’s NCAA tournament.
The 6‘9", 230-pound forward was one of Duke’s main offensive weapons, averaging 17 points a game to go along with seven rebounds, as he helped propel the Blue Devils to the top of the college basketball world.
Singler, who looks like he could go down as one of the all-time greats at the heralded program, will join up with fellow senior Nolan Smith and newcomers like Kyrie Irving to try and defend Duke’s crown this season.
Forward: Marcus Morris, Kansas
The Kansas Jayhawks lose three quality players—Cole Aldrich, Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry—from last year’s talented team, but they do return two key leaders in the Morris twins, Marcus and Markieff.
Both forwards have a good of amount of ability but it’s Marcus who is the true standout of the two.
The 6‘8", 225-pound. junior is a strong and athletic forward who is on the verge of becoming a force in the Big 12 after a sophomore season in which he averaged 12 points and six rebounds.
Guard: Durrell Summers, Michigan State
Durrell Summers and teammate Kalin Lucas are two big reasons why the Spartans have been hearing No. 1 team in the country buzz this offseason.
Summers especially looks like he has All-American-type potential. Now all he has to do is unleash it.
The 6‘4", 205-pound senior returns for his final season looking to lead Michigan State all the way to a national championship. And if he can build on his 11 points and four rebound per game average from a year ago, that just might happen.
Forward: Kris Joseph, Syracuse
Wes Johnson and Andy Rautins are both off to the NBA which means it’s now finally time for Syracuse’s Kris Joseph to step out of their shadows and become the star his talent warrants.
The 6‘7", 205-pound junior was a productive reserve last year, averaging 10 points and five rebounds a game in a limited role.
Joseph should now be the centerpiece of the action. He will team up with fellow blossoming junior Scoop Jardine to give the Orange an exciting one-two punch and a strong chance to win the Big East.
Guard: Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
Frank Martin’s Kansas State team made a remarkable run last season, finishing 29-8 and making it all the way to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament.
A big reason for all that great success was the play of guard Jacob Pullen, who led the team with 19 points per game.
The 6‘0", 200-pound senior has been a steady force throughout his Kansas State career and now that he has the backcourt spotlight all to himself after the departure of point guard Denis Clemente, he should be able to really shine.
Guard: Alec Burks, Colorado
Colorado hasn’t exactly been a basketball haven recently. The Buffaloes have finished with a losing record each of the last four seasons.
That could be the reason why more people aren’t talking about the hidden gem of the Big 12, Alec Burks.
The 6'6", 185-pound guard averaged 17 points as just a freshman last season and looks to have the type of talent it takes to be a high NBA pick in next year’s draft.
Expect Burks to lead this Colorado team to one of their better seasons in years.
Forward: Elias Harris, Gonzaga
Gonzaga loses last year's West Coast Conference player of the year Matt Bouldin but they return a player in Elias Harris who has as good a shot as anybody at winning the award this season.
Harris, a 6‘8" sophomore, has an NBA skill-set and should have no trouble routinely dominating against WCC competition.
Expect Gonzaga to contend for another berth in the NCAA tournament behind the play of Harris, who averaged 15 points and six rebounds a game last season.
Guard: Jimmer Fredette, BYU
Brigham Young’s star player Jimmer Fredette contemplated making the early jump to the NBA after last year's second round loss in the NCAA tournament. But he instead reconsidered and opted to come back and work out the flaws in his all-around game.
There’s one part of Fredette’s game which certainly needs no further polishing and that is his scoring touch.
The 6‘2", 195-pound senior led the Mountain West Conference with 22 points per game last year. If Fredette can keep up that pace, BYU should no doubt be back in the hunt for their fifth-straight tournament bid.
Guard: Isaiah Thomas, Washington
Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar doesn’t have to be too concerned with the loss of clutch playmaker Quincy Pondexter, who was taken with the 26th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
That is because Romar has a talented returning group that looks like it could be the best in the Pac-10 Conference. The Huskies are led by Isaiah Thomas, a 5'8" guard who doesn’t let his lack of size affect his impact.
The junior was arguably one of the best performers in the NCAA Tournament last year, averaging 15 points and six assists in three games.
Guard: LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
Everything looked like it was coming together for Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn as he readied for his final season in Waco this year. After helping propel the Bears on a run to the Final Four last season it looked like Dunn, along with his teammate Perry Jones, had established themselves as valuable NBA prospects.
Then came an early October arrest for aggravated assault that threw everything into jeopardy.
The talented 6‘4", 205-pound guard has been suspended from competition and his status for the season is still unclear at this point.