College Basketball 2010-11: The Top 25 Juniors Who Are Making Their Mark

Doug Brodess@DougbrodessCorrespondent INovember 29, 2010

College Basketball 2010-11: The Top 25 Juniors Who Are Making Their Mark

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    GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 28:  (L-R) Guard Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies goes up for a shot against forwards Leo Lyons #5 and DeMarre Carroll #1 of the Missouri Tigers in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the U
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The basketball recruiting class of 2008 had no shortage of big-time players, many of whom are already doing great things in the NBA.

    Those players include Tyreke Evans (2010 NBA Rookie of the Year) of the Sacramento Kings and Brandon Jennings (2010 NBA All-Rookie First Team) of the Milwaukee Bucks.

    There are also many of that class that make up a deep group who are seriously making their mark on the 2010-11 Division I hoops season.

    The following are college basketball's top 25 juniors.

Quincy Acy: Baylor Bears

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    HOUSTON - MARCH 28:  Forward Quincy Acy #4 of the Baylor Bears reacts after making a slam dunk against the Duke Blue Devils during the south regional final of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Reliant Stadium on March 28, 2010 in Houston, Texas
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    6'7", 225-lb. forward

    Acy is picking up this year where he left off last season, when he scored in double figures in three of Baylor's final four games of the season, including 10 points and five rebounds vs. Saint Mary's (March 26) and 12 points and eight rebounds vs. Duke (March 28) in the NCAA South Regional semifinals and finals, respectively.

    Acy earned the top two spots on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 plays with a 10-dunk performance vs. Texas (March 6, 2010).

    He is averaging a double-double (17.8 ppg/10.8 rpg) and has helped Baylor open with a 4-0 start.

Laurence Bowers: Missouri Tigers

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    BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 19:  Milton Jennings #24 of the Clemson Tigers goes to the hoop against Laurence Bowers #21 of the Missouri Tigers during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at HSBC Arena on March 19, 2010 in Buffalo, New York
    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    6'8", 210-lb. forward

    Bowers came off the bench last year, earning Big 12 All-Reserve Team status.

    Last year, Bowers ranked third on the team in scoring at 10.2 points and second in rebounding (5.7), plus was second on the club in field goal percentage (.555) and tops in blocked shots (48).

    Bowers was selected as SportsCenter's No. 1 Play of the Day on Jan. 6, 2009.

    Bowers is helping the Tigers start off 2010-11 ranked and undefeated, averaging 10.8 ppg and 7.3 rpg.

William Buford: Ohio State Buckeyes

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 16: Guard William Buford #44 of the Ohio State Buckeyes drives upcourt against the Florida Gators November 16, 2010 at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    6'5", 205-lb. guard

    William Buford is the top returning scorer from the 2009-10 Buckeyes, bringing back 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

    Buford was the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a 2010 Third Team All-Big Ten (coaches and media) honoree.

    So far, Buford is averaging 11.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 4.8 apg this season, as the Buckeyes have started the season by blowing out their first five opponents.

Jason Clark: Georgetown Hoyas

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    NEW YORK - MARCH 11:  Jason Clark #21 of the Georgetown Hoyas handles the ball against the Syracuse Orange during the quarterfinal of the 2010 NCAA Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/G
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    6'2", 170-lb. guard

    Last season, Clark averaged 10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

    In 2009-10, Clark was ranked 11th in the Big East in three-point field goals made (1.97) and sixth in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (42.4 percent).

    Clark has stepped up those numbers at the beginning of this season to help the Hoyas start undefeated and ranked.

    He is averaging 15.8 ppg and 4.4 rpg. He is shooting a blazing .483 from beyond the arc.

Kyle Fogg: Arizona Wildcats

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    LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 20:  Kyle Fogg #21 of the Arizona Wildcats shoots a free throw against the UNLV Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center December 20, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    6'3", 185-lb. guard

    Kyle Fogg is a big factor in the Arizona Wildcats' resurgence into the spotlight of college basketball.

    Last season, he ranked third on the club with 18 games in double figures and was Arizona's second leading scorer in Pac-10 play (13.4 ppg), and his 41.5 three-point field goal percentage ranked fifth in the league.

    While Fogg's initial scoring numbers have dipped (9.2 ppg), he is leading the Wildcats in assists with 4.4 per contest.

    Even though Arizona came up short against Kansas, Fogg had his best game of the year against the Jayhawks, scoring 18 points and hitting on four of eight shots from beyond the arc.

Ashton Gibbs: Pitt Panthers

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    MILWAUKEE - MARCH 19:  Ashton Gibbs #12 of the Pittsburgh Panthers moves the ball while taking on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Bradley Center on March 19, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wiscon
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    6'2", 190-lb. guard

    Gibbs had a breakout sophomore season, scoring 15.7 points per game.

    He was voted Big East Most Improved Player (becoming Pitt's sixth MIP in the last 11 years) and an All-Big East Second Team selection in 2009-10.

    Gibbs led the Panthers in '09-10 in scoring (15.7 ppg), minutes played (1,177), field goals made (159), three-point field goals made (78) and free throw percentage (88.4).

    Gibbs has moved his game to the next level to start this season. He is averaging 19.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg and 3.8 apg.

    He is a 2010-11 Bob Cousy Award (nation's top collegiate point guard) candidate.

Draymond Green: Michigan State Spartans

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    EVANSTON, IL - JANUARY 02: Draymond Green #23 of the Michigan State Spartans moves against the Northwestern Wildcats on January 2, 2010 at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 91-70. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    6'6", 230-lb. forward

    Green may be the most versatile player in the Big Ten.

    He is a strong rebounder and a skilled passer and is able to score inside and outside.

    Green had a breakout sophomore season last year, averaging 9.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and three assists per game.

    But he has started the 2010-11 season with a vengeance, averaging 14.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.

Scotty Hopson: Tennessee Volunteers

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    NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 26:  Scotty Hopson #32 of the Tennessee Volunteers shoots the ball despite the block from Mouphtaou Yarou #13 of the Villanova Wildcats  during the Championship game at Madison Square Garden on November 26, 2010 in New York City.  (Pho
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    6'7", 205-lb. guard

    Hopson's size and athleticism causes significant matchup problems.

    He led the Vols last season in minutes played (27.7 mpg) and ranked second on the team in scoring (12.2 ppg) and slam dunks (32).

    He also led the team in field goals and three-pointers made and attempted.

    Hopson has elevated his game this season by averaging 15.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, leading Tennessee to an undefeated record and Top 25 ranking.

Scoop Jardine: Syracuse University

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    ROSEMONT, IL - JANUARY 30: Scoop Jardine #11 of the Syracuse Orange moves against Michael Bizoukas #0 of the DePaul Blue Demons at the Allstate Arena on January 30, 2010 in Rosemont, Illinois. Syracuse defeated DePaul 59-57. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Gett
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    6'2", 190-lb. guard

    Jardine was one of 20 players named to the USA Men’s Select Basketball Team.

    The Sporting News named Jardine National 2009-10 Sixth Man of the Year.

    Jardine finished with 14 points in 23 minutes in first round NCAA Tournament action against Vermont. He also scored 14 points in the Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament game versus eventual national runner-up Butler.

    Jardine has started this season by elevating his numbers by scoring 12.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and seven assists per game.

Terrence Jennings: Louisville Cardinals

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - MARCH 19:  Terrence Jennings #23 of the Louisville Cardinals scores over Jamal Boykin #10 of the California Golden Bears during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Jacksonville Veteran's Memorial Arena on Mar
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    6'10", 230-lb. forward

    Jennings has progressed gradually in his first two years at Louisville.

    Last year, he led Louisville in blocks (40), which was 12th best in the Big East.

    After playing a backup role for his first two seasons in Louisville, Jennings is having a breakout season. He leads the Cardinals in scoring (12 ppg) and is second in rebounding (6.3 rpg).

Anthony Jones: Baylor Bears

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    NEW ORLEANS - MARCH 20:  Anthony Jones #41of the Baylor Bears blocks the shot of Darius James #3 of the Old Dominion Monarchs during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the New Orleans Arena on March 20, 2010 in New Orleans, L
    Dave Martin/Getty Images

    6'10", 190-lb. forward

    Anthony Jones is the only returning starter in the Baylor frontcourt (which was the second tallest front line in Division I basketball).

    He has better than average shooting range (career 30.7 3FG percentage) and causes matchup problems with his length.

    Jones is off to a fast start in 2010-11.

    He is averaging 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Shelvin Mack: Butler Bulldogs

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 16:  Shelvin Mack #1  of the Butler Bulldogs shoots the ball during the game against the Louisville Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center on November 16, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    6'3", 214-lb. guard

    Shelvin Mack played a big role in Butler's magical run to last year's NCAA championship game.

    Last season, he was the Bulldogs' second leading scorer (14.1 ppg) and averaged 3.7 rebounds and three assists per game.

    Mack is one of the strongest guards in the country.

    Mack is having a good start to 2010-11. He is averaging 17.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.

    Because of Butler's key losses, Mack will need to step up his game in order for the Bulldogs to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Marcus Morris: Kansas Jayhawks

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    OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 18:  Marcus Morris #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks dunks against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Ford Center on March 18, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Ronald
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    6'9", 235-lb. forward

    Marcus Morris was named the Yahoo! Sports Most Improved Player nationally and All-Big 12 Second Team in 2009-10.

    Morris is listed on numerous preseason All-American teams this year.

    He is KU's top returning scorer (12.8 ppg) and rebounder (6.1 rpg) from 2009-10.

    The Jayhawks have one of the best frontcourts in the country, featuring Marcus and his twin brother Markieff.

    Morris currently leads Kansas in scoring (19 ppg) and is second in rebounding (6.3 rpg).

    Morris was named the MVP of this year's Las Vegas Invitational.

Markieff Morris: Kansas Jayhawks

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    LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 27:  Markieff Morris #21 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots against Solomon Hill #42 of the Arizona Wildcats during the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational at The Orleans Arena November 27, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    6'10", 245-lb. center

    Markieff Morris is the other half of the Jayhawks' matched set (Markieff and Marcus Morris) frontcourt.

    This could be Markieff's breakout season.

    While only playing 18 minutes per game as a sophomore, Morris averaged 6.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest.

    Already this season, Morris is almost doubling his previous year's numbers (averaging 12.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game with only playing 20 minutes per game so far).

John Shurna: Northwestern Wildcats

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    INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 11:  Forward John Shurna #24 of the Northwestern Wildcats drives with the ball against the Indiana Hoosiers during the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 11, 2010 in Indianapolis, Ind
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    6'8", 215-lb. forward

    Last season, Shurna was a consensus Second-Team All-Big Ten selection.

    He was named the most improved player in the nation by Sporting News and established Northwestern single-season records for points (619) and field goals (217).

    Shurna is a big reason that NU is coming off its winningest season in school history in 2009-10,
    posting a 20-14 record.

    Shurna has increased his scoring average (from 18.2 ppg last year to 22.7) so far this year, leading the Wildcats to three consecutive wins.

Chris Singleton: Florida State Seminoles

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    ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 27:  Chris Singleton #31 of the Florida State Seminoles looks to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Old Spice Classic at Disney's Milk House on November 27, 2009 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Imag
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    6'9", 227-lb. forward

    Last season as a sophomore, Singleton was selected as ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

    Singleton begins his junior season as a John Wooden Award nominee.

    He is also one of the nation's top candidates for the Henry Iba Award, the prize for college basketball's top defensive player.

    So far, Singleton is averaging a double-double, 17.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, along with three blocks and 3.4 steals per game.

Jeffery Taylor: Vanderbilt Commodores

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    SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 18:  Forward Jeffery Taylor #44 of the Vanderbilt Commodores goes up for a shot against forward Ivan Aska #42 of the Murray State Racers during the first round of the 2010 NCAA men�s basketball tournament at HP Pavilion on March 18, 2
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    6'7", 225-lb. forward

    Taylor was named a Second-Team All-SEC player in 2009-10 after being named to the All-SEC Freshman team in 2008-09.

    He has started in every game of his Vanderbilt career.

    He has helped the Commodores to a 5-1 start with scoring 11.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

Tyshawn Taylor: Kansas Jayhawks

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    WESTWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 6:  Tyshawn Taylor #10 of the Kansas Jayhawks goes up to dunk against the UCLA Bruins on December 6, 2009 at Pauley Pavillion in Westwood, California.    (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    6'3", 185-lb. guard

    Tyshawn Taylor is a two-year starter who is a proven winner and shows leadership at both guard positions.

    He is KU's leading returner in assists from last season and their second leading returning scorer from 2009-10 at 7.2 ppg.

    This season, Taylor is averaging 9.3 points and 7.2 assists per game.

Isaiah Thomas: Washington Huskies

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    SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 25:  Isaiah Thomas #2 of the Washington Huskies drives against Da'Sean Butler #1 of the West Virginia Mountaineers during the east regional semifinal of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Carrier Dome on March 25, 2010 i
    Chris Chambers/Getty Images

    5'9", 185-lb. guard

    Last season, Isaiah Thomas was named First Team All-Pac-10 and 2010 Pac-10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player.

    Thomas led the Huskies last season in assists and is the top returning scorer.

    He continues to bring a high level of production and leadership to a Washington team that has stumbled twice early in the 2010-11 season.

    He is averaging 14 points, 3.6 rebounds and three assists per game this year.

Trey Thompkins: Georgia Bulldogs

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    NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 11:  Trey Thompkins #33 of the Georgia Bulldogs goes up for a dunk attempt against the Arkanasas Razorbacks during the first round of the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena on March 11, 2010 in Nashville, Tennes
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    6'9", 247-lb. forward

    One of the nation's top returning players, Thompkins is the only returnee from among the 2010 Coaches' All-Southeastern Conference First Team.

    Last season, Thompkins was second in the SEC in scoring, fourth in rebounding, seventh in FG percentage and eighth in FT percentage.

    He also ranked fourth in the SEC in double-doubles (10).

    A talented inside-outside threat with an NBA-ready body, Thompkins led the Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding last season.

    This year, Thompkins has played solidly, averaging 14.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, as the Bulldogs look to get on track after losing two of three contests in Orlando.

Klay Thompson: Washington State Cougars

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    AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JULY 06:  Klay Thompson of the United States dunks the ball during the U19 Basketball World Championships match between the United States and Greece at North Shore Events Centre on July 6, 2009 in Auckland, New Zealand.  (Photo by
    Hannah Johnston/Getty Images

    6'6", 200-lb. guard

    Last season, Thompson was named to the All-Pacific-10 Conference First Team.

    He led WSU in points (19.6 ppg), minutes per game (35.4 mpg), steals (44, 1.4 spg) and three-pointers made (76, 2.5 mpg).

    This year, Thompson is one of the leading scorers in the nation, averaging 23.6 points per game.

    He is also second in rebounding (5.3 rpg).

Nikola Vucevic: USC Trojans

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    WESTWOOD, CA - JANUARY 16:  Nikola Vucevic #5 of the USC Trojans on the court in the game against the UCLA Bruins on January 16, 2010 at Pauley Pavillion in Westwood, California.  USC won 67-46.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    6'10", 240-lb. forward

    Last season, Vucevic was named the 2009-10 Pac-10 Most Improved Player. He led the league in rebounding and FG percentage (.504) and was USC’s second leading scorer.

    Vucevic played for the Montenegro national team during the summer.

    This year, Vucevic leads the Trojans in both scoring (16 ppg) and rebounding (11 rpg), as USC seeks to get on track after starting the new season 4-3.

Kemba Walker: Connecticut Huskies

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    LOUISVILLE, KY - FEBRUARY 01:  Kemba Walker #15 of the Connecticut Huskies shoots during the Big East Conference game against the Louisville Cardinals on February 1, 2010 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    6'1", 172-lb. guard

    As a sophomore in 2009-10, Walker earned a spot on the All-Big East Third Team.

    He was also named to the NIT All-Tournament Team.

    Early on, Walker is arguable the top player in this class.

    He leads the country in scoring (30 ppg), while he also is grabbing 4.2 rebounds and handing out 3.6 assists per game.

    He led the Huskies as they won this year's Maui Invitational.

    Walker was voted tournament MVP.

Wesley Witherspoon: Memphis Tigers

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 19:  Wesley Witherspoon #11 of the Memphis Tigers looks on during their first round game against the CSUN Matadors in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Sprint Center on March 19, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri.
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    6'9", 210-lb. guard/forward

    Witherspoon was selected as a member of the 2009-10 All-Conference USA third team and the Sporting News 2009-10 All-Conference USA second team.

    Witherspoon's length and versatility cause opponents nightmares.

    Early this season, Witherspoon leads the Tigers in both scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 rpg), as they are undefeated and currently ranked No. 15.

Tyler Zeller: North Carolina Tar Heels

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    NEW YORK - MARCH 30: Tyler Zeller #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels dunks the ball against Rhode Island Rams at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2010 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    7'0", 250-lb. forward

    Zeller was one of 20 collegiate players chosen to train against the United States Men's Select Team in Las Vegas in August 2010

    Last season, he was fourth on the team in scoring at 9.3 points per game.

    This year, Zeller leads UNC in scoring (15.5 ppg) and is second in rebounding (7.8 rpg) as the Tar Heels look to stabilize after an uneven 4-2 start.

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