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College Basketball: Pac-10's Top 15 Players

Jason McClearyContributor IJanuary 16, 2011

College Basketball: Pac-10's Top 15 Players

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Pac-10 men's basketball conference play is underway, and the competition has been tough so far. 

    Critics have been quick to point out how down the conference has been the past couple seasons, but players have stepped up so far this year to make it interesting. 

    Here is a list of the top 15 players in the conference, based on how they are playing to date.    

15. Faisal Aden, Guard (Washington State)

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    The transfer from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla. brings another scoring option to Washington State.

    Faisal Aden took advantage of sophomore guard Reggie Moore's injury at the beginning of the season and showed the coaches he can play.  Averaging 14 points a game, Aden has the ability to create his own shot off the dribble and get to the rim to finish.    

14. Alex Stepheson, Forward (USC)

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    Alex Stepheson is a force down low in the paint. 

    At 6-foot-10, Stepheson is the Pac-10's second leading rebounder—averaging 8 boards and one block per game—and is shooting 56 percent from the field. 

    He has really stepped his game up so far this season, averaging 33 minutes per game.

13. Jorge Gutierrez, Guard (Cal)

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Jorge Gutierrez is one of the only key players returning from Cal's run last year. 

    Gutierrez is handling the ball very well for the Golden Bears this year at the point guard position; he averages 12 points, four assists and one steal per game. 

12. Harper Kamp, Forward (California)

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    Harper Kamp missed last season with a knee injury but you wouldn't know it by the way he has been playing this year. 

    Kamp is averaging 13 points per game and is deadly at the foul line shooting 84 percent from the stripe.  

11. Jeremy Green, Guard (Stanford)

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Stanford stands third in the Pac-10, and Jeremy Green is one of the main reasons why.

    Green is third in the conference in 3-point shooting, averaging 2.6 per game.  He is a good shooter who can create separation to get off his shot, which explains why he is averaging 15 points per game.

10. Joevan Catron, Forward (Oregon)

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Joevan Catron has stuck it out with Oregon while most of last year's players left, and he has been one of the bright spots for the Ducks.

    Catron is averaging 15 points and six rebounds per game.  A big-bodied guy down low, Catron is almost required to have two men defending him. 

9. Jared Cunningham, Guard (Oregon State)

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Only a sophomore, Jared Cunningham leads the Pac-10 in steals with three per game and averages 14 points per game for the Beavers. 

    He can play any of the 1-4 positions due to his size and upside.  Don't be surprised to see Cunningham at Oregon State for maybe one more year before he makes a leap for the NBA.

8. Justin Holiday, Forward (Washington)

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Justin Holiday is really coming into his own on the court. 

    He is a walking stat line for the Huskies, averaging 11 points, five rebounds, one steal and is shooting 42 percent from the 3-point line.  Holiday one of the key players for a loaded Huskies team and has been one of the most consistent players in the Pac-10 so far this season.

7. Tyler Honeycutt, Forward (UCLA)

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Tyler Honeycutt is a strong forward NBA scouts rave about, averaging 13 points, seven rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game (third in the Pac-10). 

    Honeycutt can post an opponent up or take his opponent off the dribble at the top of the key.  With a nice upside, he will probably test the waters for the NBA after this season.

6. Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Forward (Washington)

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    It looks as though Matthew Bryan-Amaning will go out with a bang his senior season. 

    Bryan-Amaning is explosive in the paint and has a style of play down low you have to respect. He is averaging a career-high 14 points and seven rebounds per game.  

    If the Pac-10 kept dunk stats, I am sure Bryan-Amaning would lead the Pac-10 in that category as well.

     

5. Reeves Nelson, Forward (UCLA)

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Reeves Nelson does all the dirty work a coach would want out of a player. 

    He dives for loose balls and is willing to sacrifice his body for the game of basketball.  There have even been a few times Nelson has had black eyes after a game or practices due to his physical play. 

    His physical style of play is what stands out because he is an undersized power forward who plays big.  He is averaging 14 points per game, eight rebounds and shooting 56 percent from the field.

4. Klay Thompson, Guard (Washington State)

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    There is no shot Klay Thompson won’t take. 

    Leading the Pac-10 in scoring, Thompson makes it look effortless at times. He is a little trigger-happy behind the arc, but when he is on, it's a beautiful thing to watch.  Thompson also leads the Pac-10 in 3-point shots made and 3-point shots attempted. 

    If Washington State wants to make a run this year, they will need Thompson's consistent play. 

3. Nikola Vucevic, Forward (USC)

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Nikola Vucevic is the one of the Pac-10's best NBA prospects. 

    With a European style of play, Vucevic can bang down low in the blocks with the big boys.  As a nicely sized power forward who can put the ball on the ground, Vucevic is leading the Pac-10 in rebounding with 10 per game and is second in the league in scoring. 

    USC has made some nice strides this year with on Vucevic's excellent play.

2. Isaiah Thomas, Guard (Washington)

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The 5-foot-8 junior has excelled at the point guard position since sophomore Abdul Gaddy went down with a torn ACL. 

    Isaiah Thomas is the third leading scorer in the Pac-10 and also leads the Pac-10 in assists.  Thomas is on pace to break the UW scoring record if he stays his senior year.

    Critics have questioned Thomas’ leadership as a point guard, and he has answered them by proving he can lead this team. 

1. Derrick Williams, Forward (Arizona)

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Derrick Williams is perhaps the Pac-10's best NBA prospect. 

    Williams has the intangibles to face up an opponent, rebound and extend the defense to the 3-point line.    He averages 19 points and seven rebounds per game and has the best 3-point field goal percentage in the Pac-10. 

    Should he choose to forego his senior season, Williams will likely be the first Pac-10 player to get drafted.

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