Ranking the Top 25 Seniors of the 2016-17 College Basketball Season

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystJune 14, 2016

Ranking the Top 25 Seniors of the 2016-17 College Basketball Season

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    Villanova's Josh Hart and Kansas' Frank Mason are both top-five seniors for the upcoming season.
    Villanova's Josh Hart and Kansas' Frank Mason are both top-five seniors for the upcoming season.Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    Freshmen rule the roost when it comes to college basketball hype, but seniors like Josh Hart and Frank Mason are the experienced leaders most likely to determine which teams dominate the 2016-17 season.

    These 25 oldies but goodies were ranked based on a combination of (in descending order of importance) individual statistics, value and projected team success.

    A big-time performer for a potential national champion would obviously rank at or near the top, but there aren't many seniors who fit that bill. It was largely a balancing act between crucial role players on quality teams and stat sheet-stuffers on not-so-quality teams.

    With that said, there was no shortage of viable candidates. In addition to our top 25, there are nine honorable mentions and about two dozen other players who were difficult to cut from the list.

    It won't be quite the "Year of the Senior" that 2015-16 was, but the state of college basketball remains in excellent hands with these veterans.

Honorable Mentions

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    Andrew White III
    Andrew White IIISteven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

    Andrew White III, Nebraska

    After two disappointing seasons at Kansas, White made a big splash in his first rodeo with Nebraska, averaging 16.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 41.2 percent from three-point range. If he played for a team more likely to make the NCAA tournament, those numbers might have been good enough for inclusion.

    Bryce Alford, UCLA

    Alford put up strong numbers in the past two seasons, but UCLA doesn't need him to be as much of a one-man show in a deep backcourt rotation run by Lonzo Ball.

    Minor-Conference Point Machines
    Dallas Moore, North Florida
    Zeek Woodley, Northwestern State
    Obi Emegano, Oral Roberts
    Jared Brownridge, Santa Clara
    Jalan West, Northwestern State

    Though there are a couple of guys from small schools in our top 25, we couldn't rank them all. They didn't make the cut for this list, but they're certainly in the top 10 players likely to reach 2,000 career points this season, as all five are already in the 1,590-1,800 range with one season to go.

    Returning from Injury
    Amile Jefferson, Duke
    Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga

    These two players should have already played their final collegiate game, but season-ending injuries early in the year "allowed" them to take a medical redshirt. Both could start for teams that should rank in the preseason Top 10-15, but the unknown of returning from surgery is enough to keep them out of our top 25.

25. Tra-Deon Hollins, Nebraska-Omaha

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    Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 12.5 PPG, 6.1 APG, 4.8 RPG, 4.0 SPG

    Tra-Deon Hollins was so dominant in his first season of D-I basketball that one could reduce the above per-game numbers by 50 percent, and he'd still be one of just 18 players to hit those thresholds last year.

    Plug in his actual averages, and the JUCO standout is the only player in at least two decades to produce that stat line.

    Of course, it's the steals that set him apart from the crowd. At 3.97 per game, Hollins posted the sixth-highest single-season average since 1993-94. Even recent VCU great Briante Weber never topped 3.46 in a healthy season.

    Hollins had eight games last year with at least five points, rebounds, assists and steals, including one game against IPFW (Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne) with 23 points, 13 assists, eight steals and five rebounds. 

    Tennessee-Martin's Lester Hudson was the only player in college basketball history to record a quadruple-double, doing so on November 13, 2007 against NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) Central Baptist College.

    Don't be surprised when Hollins has a couple of games in which he flirts with making that a two-man club.

24. Ethan Telfair, Idaho State

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    Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images

    2015-16 Stats: 20.2 PPG, 5.4 APG, 4.0 RPG, 2.4 SPG

    Much like Tra-Deon Hollins, Ethan Telfair is a JUCO transfer who made the most of his first season at the D-I level.

    It took a little while for Telfair to come out of his shell, but he was a monster in Big Sky Conference play. He averaged 23.9 points, 5.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 steals while shooting 41.2 percent from three-point range and 89.9 percent from the free-throw line.

    Despite entering January with a career high of 23 points, he put up at least 30 on seven occasions in conference play, including in four consecutive games near the end of the season.

    That sheer volume of points makes it seem like he's a ball hog, but the assists suggest otherwise.

    For sake of comparison, Oakland's Kay Felder averaged 18.1 points, 7.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game as a sophomore before becoming an oft-discussed, minor-conference combo guard this past season.

    If Idaho State can fare better than last year's 16-15 record, Telfair could be this year's Wooden Award honorable mention from a small school.

23. JeQuan Lewis, VCU

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    Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 11.3 PPG, 5.1 APG, 2.6 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 41.5 3P%

    The full-season stats aren't much to write home about, but JeQuan Lewis was just starting to heat up when the year ended. In his final three contests against Saint Joseph's, Oregon State and Oklahoma, Lewis averaged 20.7 points and 8.0 assists.

    There were glimpses of Lewis' potential stardom throughout the season. In one key win over Saint Bonaventure, he had 26 points on 15 shots with seven assists and no turnovers. It's hard to get any more efficient than that, but he was unable to sustain those breakout performances, quickly reverting to the player who scored six or fewer points in 12 of 34 games.

    But in the three most important games of VCU's season, Lewis strung together a trio of excellent stat lines.

    With Melvin Johnson and Korey Billbury both graduating, it might have been a sign of things to come, as the Rams should be more dependent on their point guard's production in 2016-17.

22. Maurice Watson Jr., Creighton

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    Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 14.1 PPG, 6.5 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG

    Though it may seem that way to this point, averaging 5.0 assists per game in 2015-16 was not a prerequisite to rank in our top 25. It's just a coincidence that the back end of our list is littered with players who excel at getting their teammates involved in the offense.

    And few (if any) are better at that craft than Maurice "Mo" Watson Jr.

    Before transferring to Creighton, Watson averaged 13.3 points, 7.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds as a sophomore at Boston University. The potentially formidable transition from the lowly Patriot League to the Big East wasn't an issue, though. He put up nearly identical numbers as a junior with the Bluejays.

    This year should be even better for Watson because head coach Greg McDermott went out and got him an adequate sidekick.

    Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster averaged 15.5 points and 2.5 assists per game as a freshman prior to a sophomore year in which everything unraveled for the Wildcats. He should be the secondary backcourt presence that Creighton needs, freeing up Watson to shine brighter.

21. Isaiah Hicks, North Carolina

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    Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 8.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG

    Isaiah Hicks is the only player in our top 25 to average fewer than 11.0 points per game in 2015-16. These things happen when you only start three games and average 18.1 minutes per night.

    But Hicks put up strong numbers in his limited minutes and should be headed for a bigger piece of North Carolina's pie with Brice Johnson no longer blocking his path to playing time.

    The only problem now is getting Hicks to keep his hands to himself.

    The former McDonald's All-American averaged 19.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per 40 minutes while shooting 61.4 percent from the floor and 75.6 percent from the free-throw line. He's one of the more efficient big men in the country, but he also averaged 6.7 personal fouls per 40 minutes in both his sophomore and junior seasons.

    That problem came to a head this past March against Indiana, when he fouled out in just seven minutes in the Sweet 16. If he can finally cut down on those fouls as a senior while benefiting from an increased usage percentage, he could put up gargantuan numbers for the Tar Heels.

20. Charles Cooke, Dayton

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    Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 15.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.3 SPG, 1.2 BPG, 39.6 3P%

    In either of the past two seasons, only four players have averaged at least 15.0 points, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks per game while making at least 50 three-pointers: Brandon Ingram, Isaiah Whitehead, R.J. Hunter and Charles Cooke.

    If we could add a fifth qualifier of at least 5.0 rebounds per game, the list shrinks to just Cooke and Ingram.

    That isn't to say that Cooke is just as good as the phenom who should be taken with either the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, but it offers a compelling glimpse into how multifaceted and effective he is.

    Late in the season, though, he struggled with turnovers and shooting, posting an O-rating below 100 in seven of his final 10 games as Dayton sputtered to the finish line.

    Had he remained as strong as he was for the first three months, the Flyers might have been a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. They'll need that version of Cooke to show up again in 2016-17.

19. Gian Clavell, Colorado State

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    Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: (10 games) 20.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 42.2 3P%

    Though we kept Amile Jefferson and Przemek Karnowski off the list after an injury-shortened season, an exception was made for Gian Clavell because he was a higher scorer who means more to his club.

    With John Gillon transferring to Syracuse and Antwan Scott, Joe De Ciman, Tiel Daniels and Fred Richardson all graduating, the Rams are short on returning options. Unless multiple members of last year's freshman class are ready to become stars, it's pretty much just Clavell and double-double machine Emmanuel Omogbo.

    Butassuming his medical redshirt waiver is approved, per Kelly Lyell of the Coloradoanthat just means more room for Clavell to shine.

    The former JUCO transfer put up modest numbers in 2014-15, but he was nearly unstoppable to start this past season, scoring at least 15 points in each of the 10 games before he broke his hand and had surgery to repair a torn shoulder.

    If healthy and eligible to play, he has the talent and is in a position to potentially lead the nation in scoring.

18. Peter Jok, Iowa

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    Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 16.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.3 SPG, 40.2 3P%

    If Iowa is going to remain nationally relevant for another season, you're looking at the cause.

    Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons, Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury all graduate, leaving Peter Jok as the only returning player who started more than one game last seasonand Dom Uhl only got that start because Jok was out for the early-November beatdown of Coppin State.

    Uthoff received all of the praise for Iowa's rise to prominence in January, but Jok was just as crucial with his deadly three-point shooting and solid on-ball defense.

    And save for a brief funk over the last three games of the regular season, Jok continued to play well for the entire season, while Uthoff struggled to find his shooting stroke for the final two months.

    Can Jok build on his breakout junior year by finding an even higher gear for 2016-17? Uhl and Nicholas Baer are the only teammates who have shown much of anything to suggest an ability to become a primary contributor, so Jok is going to have more weight on his shoulders than perhaps any other player on our list.

17. V.J. Beachem, Notre Dame

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    Robert Franklin/Associated Press

    2015-16 Stats: 12.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 44.4 3P%

    Save for the occasional strong performance in a losing effort (career-high 22 points in a 15-point loss to Syracuse, 18 points in a lose-from-ahead collapse against Indiana, etc.), V.J. Beachem was barely a blip on the radar for his first two years and four months of college hoops.

    He played well enough to start all season long for a tournament team, but not well enough to earn a single vote for the All-ACC teams or Most Improved Player award.

    But postseason play brought out the beast within, as Beachem emerged as both a three-point assassin and rim-rattling dunker.

    Between the ACC and NCAA tournaments (six games), Beachem averaged 16.7 points, shot 54.3 percent from beyond the arc and threw down a dunk in the Elite Eight that had teammate Zach Auguste in hysterics on the bench.

    Out of seemingly nowhere, Beachem became a legitimate NBA draft prospect and a reason to buy stock in Notre Dame in 2016-17 without Auguste or Demetrius Jackson.

    It might have just been a magical three-week run, but there's also a reasonable chance that it was the catalyst for a monster final season.

16. James Daniel, Howard

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    Mel Evans/Associated Press

    2015-16 Stats: 27.1 PPG, 2.8 APG, 2.2 RPG, 2.0 SPG

    The nation's leading scorer is well on his way to 2,000 career points. In fact, he would easily be there already if he hadn't missed nine games over the course of his first three seasons, as he has scored 1,899 points in 88 career games.

    But there's the not-so-minor problem of Howard not being any good despite possessing this lethal scorer.

    Excluding the seven wins against non-D-I programs, the Bison are just 29-61 over the past three seasons with a 1-23 record against the KenPom Top 170 during that time.

    Granted, that's improvement for a team that went more than a decade (2003-14) without winning so much as 11 games in a single season, but it's difficult to rank Daniel any higher than this when he plays on a team (and almost exclusively against teams) with no hope whatsoever of an at-large bid.

    Still, Daniel is on a list with Stephen Curry, Jimmer Fredette and Lester Hudson as the only players in the past eight years to average at least 27.0 points per game. It would be rude to lump that achievement in with the other "minor-conference point machines" in the honorable mentions.

15. Moses Kingsley, Arkansas

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    Samantha Baker/Associated Press

    2015-16 Stats: 15.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 1.2 APG, 1.1 SPG

    Moses Kingsley entered his junior season with a career high of 12 points, reached twice as a freshman. As a sophomore, he never had more than 10 points or eight rebounds in a game.

    He blocked some shots and ate up space in the paint, but let's just say he wasn't stealing any votes away from Skal Labissiere, Ben Simmons or Damian Jones for preseason All-SEC big man honors.

    To put it lightly, it was a surprise to see him consistently dominate to the tune of 16 double-doubles and 19 games with at least 15 points.

    He benefited from poor roster constructionthere wasn't another returning player on the roster taller than 6'7" with more than five career pointsbut getting an opportunity and seizing an opportunity don't always go hand in hand.

    Without question, he did the latter and will enter the 2016-17 season rivaling Texas A&M's Tyler Davis and Kentucky's Bam Adebayo for the honor of best true big man in the SEC.

    Kingsley will have more internal competition this year. JUCO transfer Arlando Cook averaged 16.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game last season and figures to start immediately at power forward for the Razorbacks. But if Kingsley was able to nearly average a double-double as the only interior threat on the roster, adding a competent sidekick could make him even more unstoppable.

14. Justin Robinson, Monmouth

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    Willie J. Allen/Associated Press

    2015-16 Stats: 19.3 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.7 APG, 2.2 SPG, 39.4 3P%

    The Monmouth "Bench Mob" was fun for a few months, but it never becomes a national thing without the play of starting point guard Justin Robinson.

    Though he had a disastrous performance in the second round of the NIT against George Washington (six points on 16 shots with just two assists), Robinson is nothing like the other minor-conference heroes who feasted on cupcakes.

    In five games against opponents labeled as "Tier A" by KenPom, Robinson averaged 21.4 points on 42.3 percent three-point shooting with 3.4 steals and 3.2 assists per game. Throw in the 30.3 points he averaged against "Tier B" Siena, USC and Dayton, andif anythingRobinson was most dominant against the best opponents.

    He simply seemed to run out of gas in March.

    This year, all eyes will be on the 5'8" guard from the moment the season begins.

    The selection committee robbed Monmouth of the chance to be the Cinderella story of the 2016 NCAA tournament, but with everyone other than Deon Jones returning for another season, the Hawks are already the favorites to land that gig in 2017.

13. J.J. Frazier, Georgia

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    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 16.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 38.6 3P%

    J.J. Frazier isn't anywhere near the nationally recognized name that some of these players are, but the 5'10" combo guard was downright untouchable at times last season.

    During a particularly impressive five-game stretch toward the end of last seasonhe was named the KenPom MVP of each gameFrazier averaged 23.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.2 assists while shooting 44.1 percent from beyond the arc.

    And unlike many volume scoring guards who fill up the stat sheet in a bad way, too, Frazier was pleasantly protective of the ball, finishing the season with a 2.75 assist-to-turnover ratio and recording more turnovers than assists in a game on just three occasions.

    Frazier is one of only eight players in the past six years to average at least 15.0 points, 4.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game while committing fewer than 2.0 turnoversand he had each of those thresholds easily covered.

    Adjust the parameters to 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 turnovers, and the list shrinks to just Frazier and Caris LeVert's injury-shortened 2015-16 season.

12. Kris Jenkins, Villanova

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    Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 13.6 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.2 APG, 38.6 3P%

    On Twitter, he's @BigTicket2. On Instagram, he's BigSmoove2. But Kris Jenkins needs a more appropriate nickname after hitting arguably the biggest shot in NCAA tournament history. Let's start the nominations with Three-Roy Jenkins and Big Swish Kris and see where we land.

    But what will (insert TBD nickname) do for an encore in 2016-17?

    He was already one of the most improved players in the country, developing from a part-time three-point specialist as a sophomore into a go-to scorer more than capable of contributing with rebounds and assists as a junior.

    If he makes a similar leap as a senior, go ahead and give him all of the individual awards for next season.

    Even if he merely plays a full season at the same level of excellence as the final 14 games of the 2015-16 season, it would be a big plus for Villanova. After averaging 10.9 points and shooting 32.7 percent from beyond the arc for his first 26 games, he put up 18.6 points per game on 48.0 percent three-point shooting the rest of the way.

    Only seven players in the past two decades have averaged at least 18.6 points while shooting at least 48 percent from three for the season, including Wally Szczerbiak and Doug McDermott (twice).

    So, yeah, that would be a decent final campaign for Jenkins.

11. Malcolm Hill, Illinois

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    Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 18.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.2 SPG

    You might not have noticed while Illinois was busy matching a school record for most losses in a single season, but Malcolm Hill had a dandy of a junior year. 

    In averaging at least 18 points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal per game, Hill wound up in quite the who's-who club for the 2015-16 season with just Ben Simmons, Denzel Valentine and Thomas Walkup.

    That makes Hill the only returning player to put up such numbers and a near-lock for preseason first-team All-Big Ten honors.

    Might this be the year when he finally leads the Illini to the NCAA tournament?

    Illinois is already mired in its longest tournament drought since the 1970s by failing to dance in any of Hill's first three seasons on the roster. That's partially because Hill is seemingly the only player on this team capable of avoiding the injury bug, but it doesn't change the fact that Illinois has been woefully disappointing.

    For Hill to become more of a household name in his final season, he'll need to steer Illinois to good news on Selection Sunday for a change.

10. Jaron Blossomgame, Clemson

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    Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 18.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.3 BPG, 44.1 3P%

    Every player in our top 10 has played in at least one NCAA tournament. Every player except for Jaron Blossomgame, that is, and it's impossible to say how much higher he might rank on the list if he played for a more nationally relevant team.

    Statistically speaking, he was incredible.

    In the past nine seasons, there have only been six instances of a player averaging at least 18 points and six rebounds per game while attempting at least 100 threes and making more than 44 percent of them: IUPUI's (Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis) George Hill, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, Creighton's Doug McDermott (three times) and Blossomgame.

    If we add in a qualifier of at least one block per game, Wally Szczerbiak is the only other player to hit all of those plateaus in the past 23 years. Bet you weren't expecting to see his name multiple times in this slideshow.

    But between playing for a team that hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 2011 and NBA draft scouts deciding he wasn't impressive enough to be a first-round pick this year, according to the Associated Press' Pete Iacobelli, we subconsciously diminish Blossomgame's accomplishments.

    If incoming transfers help propel Clemson to a breakout season, though, don't be surprised to find him in the thick of the Wooden Award conversation next March.

9. Jordan Woodard, Oklahoma

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    Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 13.0 PPG, 3.4 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.6 SPG, 45.5 3P%

    Two years ago, Jordan Woodard couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. He shot just 25.4 percent from beyond the arc, connecting on just 17 triples in 35 games.

    He was the only starter in Oklahoma's rotation to post a sub-100 O-rating.

    Last year, Woodard was one of the most lethal shooters in the country. He emerged from that sophomore slump like a butterfly from a cocoon, sinking 80 three-pointers and finishing second to only Buddy Hield in O-rating among Sooners.

    But Hield's gone now. So are Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins, leaving Woodard as the most experienced player on the roster by a country mile. With 1,148 career points, Woodard has scored nearly 500 more points than the rest of the roster combined (664).

    For that reason, it may well be a rebuilding year for the Sooners.

    It might also be the year that Woodard takes a page from the Ryan Boatright playbook by becoming the best scorer in the entire conference as a senior.

8. London Perrantes, Virginia

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    Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 11.0 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.1 SPG, 48.8 3P%

    Jordan Woodard and London Perrantes might be clones of each other.

    They both had inefficient and poor-shooting sophomore seasons before blossoming into stone-cold gunners as juniors. In fact, they were two of the only three players in the country last season to average at least 3.0 assists per game while shooting better than 45 percent from three-point range.

    Moreover, both point guards lost their top three teammates to graduation. For Perrantes, it's Malcolm Brogdon, Anthony Gill and Mike Tobey that he'll need to learn how to play without.

    But Perrantes is in a much better position to succeed as a senior, as Virginia adds Memphis transfer Austin Nichols and a stout recruiting class headlined by Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome. His supporting cast isn't anywhere near as experienced as it was last season, but Perrantes has arguably more talent to work with than ever before.

    If Virginia does have another strong season, Perrantes will become the face of the Tony Bennett revolution in Charlottesville.

    He became the starting point guard of this team one week into his freshman season, leading the Cavaliers to a pair of ACC titles, two No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament and whatever they accomplish this year.

7. Chris Boucher, Oregon

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    Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 12.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.9 BPG, 33.9 3P%

    During the offseason/preseason, we all make flippant statements about the seemingly limitless potential of players and teams. By the time November arrives, the national media will have tabbed about 60 legitimate Final Four threats and probably twice as many players who could conceivably win the Wooden Award.

    Allow us to submit the following to that vortex of hyperbole: Chris Boucher has the size (6'10") and the skill set to be the most unstoppable force in the country.

    Despite playing a mere 25.8 minutes per game, Boucher is one of just four players in the past 23 seasons to average at least 2.8 blocks and 2.8 three-point attempts per game while connecting on at least 33.3 percent of those attempts. The other three players on that list each averaged at least 30 minutes per game and weren't anywhere near as lethal as Boucher was from inside the arc (66.7 percent on two-point attempts.)

    According to KenPom.com, Boucher had the highest true shooting percentage, effective field-goal percentage and block percentage in Pac-12 play while ranking third in O-rating and turnover rate and ninth in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.

    Pray tell, what is the weakness in his game? He could be more effective from three-point range and sure as heck isn't much of a passer (15 assists in 38 games), but there's no one in the country who can match up with him.

    And the crazy part is he's not even the Duck most opponents are worried about. Dillon Brooks is likelier to appear near the top of the preseason Pac-12 Player of the Year survey, but Boucher should be headed for a monster year with both Elgin Cook and Dwayne Benjamin out of the frontcourt picture.

6. Jack Gibbs, Davidson

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    David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 23.4 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.1 RPG, 1.8 SPG

    Few players in the country get buckets like Jack Gibbs, which is probably because few players are given this much freedom.

    Despite a relatively disappointing shooting seasonhis two-point percentage dropped from 53.0 in 2014-15 to 50.6 last season, while his three-point percentage dropped from 42.5 to 33.2Gibbs attempted at least 20 shots in a game on 13 occasions, including a 30-shot game in the A-10 conference tournament against Saint Bonaventure.

    He may occasionally shoot the Wildcats out of a game, but he's also their best option for scoring points in a hurry, so why not let him keep firing?

    It worked more often than not with Stephen Curry less than a decade ago, and Gibbs is the best player Davidson has been able to nab since saying sayonara to the future two-time NBA MVP.

    And when Gibbs is cooking, it's a sight to behold. There were 24 instances of a player scoring at least 41 points in a game this past season, and Gibbs was responsible for three of themneeding just 17 shots to get there in one of those games and 18 shots in another.

    With Jordan Barham and Brian Sullivan no longer around, Gibbs could be even more trigger-happy as a senior.

    He was responsible for 33.9 percent of Davidson's shots while on the court last season, good for the 12th-highest rate in the country. The record during the KenPom era was 43.4 percent by UCF's Jermaine Taylor in 2009. That record could be in jeopardy.

5. Frank Mason III, Kansas

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    Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 12.9 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 38.1 3P%

    It's impossible to quantify the value of leadership on a successful team. Advanced statistics like win shares, box plus/minus and player efficiency rating help, but there's a point at which even we numbers geeks have to just step back and let the eye test reign supreme.

    Frank Mason is one of the players where that's the case.

    His numbers are good, but they aren't mesmerizing. Just last year alone, 16 other players either matched or exceeded each of Mason's per-game averages in points, assists, rebounds and steals. Likewise, his advanced metrics were solid but hardly unbeatable.

    Outside of tying for third place in games played with 38, Mason's name is nowhere to be found on the Sports-Reference.com's leaderboard from last season.

    Yet, he's the heart, soul and stabilizing force of what was arguably the best team in the country last season and what should be one of the five best teams next season. That's enough for a spot in our top five.

4. Alec Peters, Valparaiso

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    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    2015-16 Stats: 18.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, 44.0 3P%

    If you didn't pick up on the memo with Jaron Blossomgame at No. 10 and Chris Boucher at No. 7, perhaps Alec Peters at No. 4 will drive home the point that veteran big men with range are a valuable commodity.

    It's what made Frank Kaminsky and Kyle Wiltjer preseason All-Americans during their senior years, and it should be what makes Peters a unanimous Top 25 guy in the various preseason player rankings once October and November roll around.

    The big unknown for Peters is whether he can fly solo.

    He had a stalwart supporting cast over the past few seasons at Valparaiso, but most of those players graduate this summer.

    Most notable among the departed are veteran point guard Keith Carter and shot-blocking machine Vashil Fernandez. Without the former setting him up for open looks and the latter freeing him up to spend his time on the perimeter, Peters could backtrack from his sensational sophomore and junior seasons.

    Then again, any possible concerns about Wiltjer struggling after losing Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell and Byron Wesley between his junior and senior seasons were quickly laid to rest as he remained the most lethal stretch 4 in the country.

    Peters, too, should remain the best minor-conference player in the country.

3. Monte Morris, Iowa State

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    Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 13.8 PPG, 6.9 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG

    Like with Jordan Woodard, London Perrantes and Alec Peters in our top 10, there are concerns about just how much Monte Morris has to work with for his senior season.

    Between Georges Niang, Jameel Mckay and Abdel Nader, last year's entire frontcourt ran out of years of eligibility, leaving the Cyclones no choice but to immediately put a ton of faith in incoming transfers Darrell Bowie and Merrill Holden.

    But has anyone ever looked bad with Morris as a teammate?

    Iowa State has consistently had one of the most efficient offenses for the past several years. Guys like DeAndre Kane, Melvin Ejim, Dustin Hogue, Niang and McKay were regarded as the stars of the show, but there wouldn't have been one without Morris pulling all of the strings as a turnover-averse ball distributor.

    Morris averaged an incredible 4.23 assists per turnover last season. It was the third-best ratio in the entire country and also the worst such ratio of his collegiate career, as he posted a 4.79 and 4.63 in his first two seasons, respectively.

    He also had his worst three-point shooting season but still made a respectable 35.8 percent of his long-range attempts.

    Will he become the go-to scorer for the Cyclones or will he spend another season shining the spotlight on his teammates? Either way, we're expecting a wildly productive season from Morris, as per usual.

2. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin

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    Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 15.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 SPG

    In spite of the respectable stats listed above, it was a rough year for Nigel Hayes. He played well for a stretch of about five weeks in the middle of conference playhelping lead the Badgers out of their 9-9 funk to begin the seasonbut struggled to string together so much as two consecutive strong outings for the rest of the year.

    Hayes played the most minutes of any Badger, but he had the worst O-rating among the five starters. His rebounding rate dropped, his turnover rate increased and his effective field-goal percentage plummeted from 55.7 percent in 2014-15 to 41.2 percent as a junior.

    Yet he still earned first-team All-Big Ten honors because even the disappointing version of Hayes is better than most players.

    Now that Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown have established themselves as strong sidekicks, perhaps Hayes will stop pressing the issue and just let the game come to him. When he was having fun out there as a sophomore, he was borderline unstoppable.

1. Josh Hart, Villanova

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    Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    2015-16 Stats: 15.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.2 SPG, 35.7 3P%

    Josh Hart is the runaway favorite to be named the 2016-17 preseason Player of the Year and thus was an easy choice for No. 1 among the top seniors.

    If we're going to try to compare him to one of last year's top seniors, it has to be Virginia's Malcolm Brogdon. Hart isn't a triple-double threat like Denzel Valentine, nor is he much of a candidate to drop 40 points in a game like Buddy Hield could.

    But he can quietly take over a game on either end of the court like Brogdon routinely did.

    As was the case with Kris Jenkins, we're curious to see what Hart will be able to do for an encore after serving as the most indispensable player for the national champions.

    With both Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating, there's room for him to become even more of a presence in the assist and rebound departments in addition to his efficient scoring and hard-nosed defense.

    Hart never got the attention he deserved last season because so many people dismissed Villanova as a paper tiger that couldn't get the job done in the tournament. Now that we know the Wildcats can win it all, all eyes will be on Hart.

    Statistics courtesy of Sports-Reference.com and KenPom.com.

    Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.


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