Southpaw Studs: Isaiah Thomas and NCAA Basketball's Best Lefties

Kris HughesCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2010

Washington Huskies Guard- Isaiah Thomas
Washington Huskies Guard- Isaiah ThomasJed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Left-handed athletes are a rare breed, but it can definitely be an advantage for any coach. This is very true in the game of basketball. Coaches aren't necessarily prepared to gameplan for a left-hander and players must make adjustments against a lefty which are often unsuccessful.

There are five left-handed players in today's college game that have made a mark for themselves, and likely will have the chance to continue to play the game beyond their college years. 

Here are the five best among the NCAA's southpaw studs:

Terrence Jones- Forward- Kentucky Wildcats

One of the country's most-highly recruited freshmen, Terrence Jones has made a name for himself on the college basketball landscape during the first few games of the 2010 season.

Jones is averaging a double-double for the Wildcats, at a whopping 20.7 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game. Terrence's maturity level and poise are rare for a freshman, and it is obvious that his Wildcat teammates are following his lead on a very talented and deep team.

Jones will likely encounter defenses that be keyed on him, forcing his game to reach an even higher level. Should he be able to do so, there is no doubt that he may emerge as the college game's best southpaw for the 2010 season and carry the Wildcats toward another run at a national championship for coach John Calipari.

Markieff Morris
- Forward- Kansas Jayhawks

Markieff Morris, and his twin brother Marcus, have been the backbone of the perennial power Kansas Jayhawks since their arrival in Lawrence. The 6'10", 245 pound power forward appears to be coming out from this brother's shadow this season and is establishing his own reputation as a physical and hard-charging forward for the nation's No. 4 ranked team.

Morris is currently averaging 11.9 points per game, and 9.1 rebounds per game, both career highs for the Junior. If Morris can maintain these averages and continue to supplement the numbers of his brother Marcus at the post position, Kansas could make a strong run through the Big 12 conference season and on into the post-season.

Rick Jackson- Center- Syracuse Orangemen

One of the nation's most intimidating forces in the paint, Rick Jackson looks to be on course to have another strong campaign for the 2010-2011 season. In the early going, Jackson is averaging 12.7 points per game and 13 rebounds per game as he has been dominating play in the paint on both sides of the ball for the 6-0 Orangemen. 

As any college basketball fan knows, the Big East is centered around physical play. Having a force like Jackson is a definite advantage for Syracuse. If he can maintain his averages at a double-double, they are a team which could be very difficult to beat for their 15 opponents in the conference.

Jackson's size and athletic ability make him the most likely NBA prospect of the five best lefties.

Blake Hoffarber- Guard- Minnesota Golden Gophers

Blake Hoffarber is one of the sharpest of the country's sharpshooters at the guard position. Hoffarber is the all-time leader in the three-pointers made in Minnesota history, and set a record for most three pointers made in a season during the 2009-2010 schedule, with 85.

He is currently averaging 15.6 points per game and 4.9 assists per game at the point guard position for the Golden Gophers and is emerging as one of the Big Ten's best guards. There is rarely a time when he does not knock down the open three, averaging 41.8% from the arc for his four year career at Minnesota.

Along with teammate Trevor Mbakwe, Hoffarber will be the senior leader for an unheralded Tubby Smith team as they make their way into Big Ten play.

Isaiah Thomas- Guard- Washington Huskies

Just like his namesake, Isaiah Thomas has speed, court vision and scoring touch to spare. Thomas is widely recognized by NBA scouts and coaches alike as one of the top NBA prospects at point guard in the NCAA for 2010.

Thomas' ability to slash to the basket and finish in traffic is outstanding, as is the court vision which helps his Huskies teammates to play at a higher level. Thomas is currently averaging 14.8 points per game, 3.5 rebounds per game and 4 assists per game for the 3-2 Washington squad.

All of these outstanding lefties are the cornerstones of their respective teams, bringing leadership, scoring punch and an intimidation factor which are invaluable to any collegiate program. Although left-handers are rare these guys are proof that their gifts on the hardwood can also be extremely valuable.