This is the first installment of The Arena Pulse's P.O.Y. candidates, a power ranking that will be on-going throughout the season.
Evan Turner, Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansborough, Kevin Durant and J.J. Redick have been highlighted and considered the top college basketball players in the nation over the past few years. In 2010-2011, a new player will take over as college basketball's best, but the competitiveness within the P.O.Y. race will still be the same.
Here's a look at The Arena Pulse's Preseason P.O.Y. Power Rankings:
No. 1: Jacob Pullen (Kansas State)- Is there any single player more important to a team expected to be in the Top 5 than Jacob Pullen? Fear the Beard in Manhattan, Kansas, the Wildcats might be the best in the Big 12. The Kansas State senior will lead the Wildcats, looking to build upon his 19.3 ppg from a year ago.
No. 2: Kyle Singler (Duke)- Love him or hate him? Kyle Singler means more than enough to Duke and his return to Durham is key for a team looking to repeat as National Champions. A super-talented forward, Singler gives Duke the best chance to remain on top in the ACC.
No. 3: Harrison Barnes (North Carolina)- Regarded as the top freshman in the country, Harrison Barnes has an opportunity to also be the best player in the country. He will be the focal point for a program looking to rebound after a highly disappointing season last year. Hype, hype and more hype surround this young talent.
No. 4: Malcolm Delaney (Virginia Tech)- VaTech has been on the bubble, but has made only one NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996, that coming in 2007. Delaney can lead this team to the Big Dance, looking to build on his already impressive 20.2 points and 4.5 assists per game from a season ago.
No. 5: JaJuan Johnson (Purdue)- With Hummel down again, the weight falls even more on the ability for JaJuan Johnson to produce for the Boilermakers. Johnson returns as now the second-leading scorer and leading rebounder from a team that made the Sweet 16 last season.
No. 6: Nolan Smith (Duke)- With freshman Kyrie Irving joining Smith in the backcourt, the senior should benefit even more. Nolan Smith is coming off a season averaging 17.4 ppg and is another key part in Duke's quest for back-to-back titles.
No. 7: Jimmer Fredette (BYU)- He's one of the top returning scorers in the nation and Fredette is on a mission to guide BYU back to the NCAA Tournament. After being knocked out in the second round a season ago, Fredette thinks the Cougars can improve. However, San Diego State may have other thoughts on their mind in the Mountain West. But this top guard can score at will, just ask Arizona or TCU or Florida...Well, you get the point.
No. 8: Marcus Morris (Kansas)- No more Cole Aldrich, no more Sherron Collins, who will lead Bill Self's team after a shocking end to a promising year in 2010?. Marcus Morris has the potential to average a double-double and is out to prove it is no rebuilding year in Lawrence.
No. 9: Elias Harris (Gonzaga)- Mark Few and Gonzaga will likely be in the NCAA Tournament, yet again. Elias Harris is the leader of this team and after turning down the NBA Draft, the sophomore looks to build on his 14.7 ppg a season ago. The Bulldogs, who have a streak of ten consecutive WCC regular season championships, will look to extend that streak and Harris is up for the challenge.
No. 10: Kalin Lucas (Michigan State)- He won the Big Ten Player of the Year award in 2009 and after a season-ending torn Achilles tendon abruptly put things on hold, Lucas will be back. If his health can hold up, he could be the best in the Big Ten, yet again.
No. 11: E'Twaun Moore (Purdue)
No. 12: Kim English (Missouri)
No. 13: Jared Sullinger (Ohio State)
No. 14: Lavoy Allen (Temple)
No. 15: Demetri McCamey (Illinois)
No. 16: Trey Thompkins (Georgia)
No. 17: Shelvin Mack (Butler)
No. 18: Austin Freeman (Georgetown)
No. 19: Scotty Hopson (Tennessee)
No. 20: Brandon Knight (Kentucky)
Honorable Mention (in no particular order): Perry Jones (Baylor), Kyrie Irving (Duke), Jon Leuer (Wisconsin), Chris Wright (Dayton), Derrick Williams (Arizona), Kris Joseph (Syracuse), Kawhi Leonard (San Diego State), Kevin Anderson (Richmond), Corey Fisher (Villanova), Kemba Walker (Connecticut), Isaiah Thomas (Washington), Ashton Gibbs (Pittsburgh), LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor)* Enes Kanter (Kentucky)** Josh Selby (Kansas)**
*--LaceDarius Dunn faces assault allegations and has yet to be reinstated to the team.
**--Enes Kanter and Josh Selby have yet to be cleared to play pending NCAA investigations into their eligibility.
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