The season is fast approaching. The first games are on Nov. 10, and the BIAH live blog during ESPN's season kickoff is just two weeks away. We've given you the breakout players. We've given you the teams to watch. We've given you more team previews than you could ever care about.
So with just a week until actual games are played, we figured the best way to finish up our 2008-2009 season previews is to give you our Top 10 players at each position. You know how much we love a good Top 10 list here.
A few caveats. First, we're talking about how good these guys are as college players, not how well they project as a pro.
Second, while it may be too much power for me, I am making the executive decision on what "position" a player is (and it may not necessarily be what he is listed as on a roster).
Third, I am not putting the freshmen in the list. As much as I've read about these guys and as many YouTube clips as I have watched, I have yet to see many of them play a real game (the all-star games don't count), and I don't think that I could give an accurate assessment until I see them play.
Here are the Small Forwards.
- Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
- DeMar DeRozan, USC
Best of the Rest
- Derrick Brown, Xavier
- Chris Wright, Dayton
- Lee Cummard, BYU
- DaJuan Summers, Georgetown
- James Anderson, Oklahoma State
- Danny Green, UNC
10. PAUL HARRIS, Syracuse
Harris is only 6'5", but he was one of the best rebounders in the Big East last season, grabbing 8.2 rpg to go along with 14.5 ppg. He (still) does not have much of a jump shot to speak of, but is nonetheless able to get to the rim just about whenever he pleases.
There is not doubt he is a fantastic athlete, and his long arms make him perfect for the Syracuse zone. While there may not be an NBA career in the works for Harris, he sure is a beast at this level.
9. AUSTIN DAYE, Gonzaga
In terms of potential, Daye might No. 1 on this list. He is a long, lanky, 6'10" wing with a nice jump shot and good perimeter skills. He needs to add strength to his frame and develop his offensive game, but he has already shown he can score in a variety of ways, he can hit some tough shots, and that he has a scorer's mentality.
8. CHASE BUDINGER, Arizona
Budinger may be regretting the decision to return to Tucson for his junior season right now, but that shouldn't stop him from posting some fantastic numbers this year. It may actually work to his benefit.
The knock on Budinger since he stepped foot on campus was that he was not enough of a leader and couldn't handle being the go-to guy. Well, with everyone defecting from the Arizona program, Budinger has the perfect opportunity to prove he can lead a team.
In terms of raw talent, there are not many people with his combination of size, offensive ability, and athleticism. Think Jason Richardson plus two inches.
t7. KYLE SINGLER and GERALD HENDERSON, Duke
These two Duke forwards complement each other well, especially in the offense that the Devils ran last year. Henderson is a slasher who makes plays with his athleticism (both offensively and defensively).
Singler, who was the biggest guy on the floor for Duke a lot last year, feasted on mismatches offensively. He is a good three-point shooter, so when an opponent's big man was forced to come out and respect that jumper, Singler was able to put the ball on the floor and go to the basket.
6. ROBBIE HUMMEL, Purdue
Hummel is coming off a fantastic freshman campaign where he played a large role in returning the Boilermakers to the top of the Big Ten. Hummel won't wow too many people, but he is a smart, fundamentally sound player. He is a deadly three-point shooter, but he can also get by a bigger defender when they contest his jumper.
5. TERRENCE WILLIAMS, Louisville
Williams pulled out of the draft to return for his senior season, which was probably a good decision. He has all the tools to be a good NBA wing—he's quick, he's long, he's got hops—and he has a solid all-around skill-set—jump shot, handle, great passer, aggressive rebounder.
Williams' biggest problem is his decision making. He needs to work on his shot selection and cut down his turnovers, the two things that keep him from being an All-American.
4. RAYMAR MORGAN, Michigan State
Morgan, a junior, is the perfect small forward for Tom Izzo. He is a great athlete, strong as a bull, he attacks the boards, and he is a gritty defender. He is at his best offensively when he is attacking the rim, and if he can add a consistent jump shot to his repertoire, he could be another Caron Butler.
3. SAM YOUNG, Pitt
Young, as is the case with the top two small forwards as well, arrived on campus as an athletic, yet undersized, power forward. Hard work has allowed Young to develop a perimeter game and move to the wing for his senior season. Young added a very good jump shot before his junior year and should once again be Pitt's first option offensively.
2. DAMION JAMES, Texas
James is a junior, and despite playing with the likes of Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, and A.J. Abrams during his first two years, he still managed to put up impressive numbers (7.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.2 bpg, and 13.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg).
James has always been an aggressive rebounder and slasher, but he greatly improved his jumper during his sophomore year. Expect James to put up very impressive numbers this year as the focal point of the Longhorn's offense.
1. TYLER SMITH, Tennessee
Smith, a junior, can do everything on a basketball court. He is a talented all-around player on the offensive end. Smith is one of the best passing forwards in the country, can knock down a three, and can go by a slower defender on the perimeter. He is also a fantastic (and very intense) defender and is the leader for a young Tennessee team.