College Basketball: Ranking The Top 25 Seniors in the Country
One of the things that makes college basketball great is the cycle of players.
The fact that programs will have an entirely new roster every four years means there are plenty of opportunities for players to develop their game by the time they graduate. Some of those players are included here.
Yes, there are players that have been around forever it seems, but others have just emerged as great players this season. With so many players set to graduate in the spring, this may be the final chance to see some of these stellar leaders.
25. C.J. Wilkerson, North Carolina Central University
C.J. Wilkerson is a virtual unknown, but his poise as a senior leader was especially showcased this season.
Wilkerson is averaging 19.5 points per game this year, but last Monday, Wilkerson managed to throw up 41 points against in-state foe North Carolina A&T while also racking up four assists, six rebounds and two steals. He hit a crucial three-point play down the stretch in overtime, which was essential in the win.
24. Delroy James, Rhode Island
James has used his increased playing time as a senior to emerge as the Rams best player.
Managing 17.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, one block and 1.5 steals per game isn't easy, but leading your team in four of the five categories is even harder.
If James can help the Rams finish strong in the A-10, we may see a birth in the NCAA tourney for Rhode Island.
23. Matt Howard, Butler
Matt Howard ran with his sudden fame in last year's NCAA tournament, but many people forgot about him once the Butler Bulldogs fell into mid-major mediocrity this season.
Howard is still as strong as he's ever been though, actually increasing his numbers this season with an increased role in the offense and better defense. He's averaging almost 18 points per game and just over eight rebounds.
22. Chris Warren, Mississippi
Chris Warren came back for his senior season after initially declaring for the NBA Draft in 2010.
He did increase his scoring without Terrico White to share the load, but his stats in the other categories have decreased a bit. This isn't to say Warren isn't having a great season though.
His 18.2 points per game is good for second in the SEC, and he's still fourth in the conference in assists with 3.9 per game.
21. Gary Flowers, Southern Mississippi
Flowers has used his bigger role in the Golden Eagles offense to add an extra five points per game onto his average. He's second in Conference USA in scoring, and he's also pulling down 7.6 rebounds per game.
Flowers has matured to a great leader after being dismissed from the Oklahoma State team as a freshman. Now, he's the player that Southern Miss turns to in the clutch, making him a great asset to have.
20. Vlad Moldoveanu, American
Vlad is putting up great stats for American this season, his second year with the Eagles.
He played his first two years at George Mason before transferring to play at American, and it seems to have worked out. He's just outside the top-20 scorers in the nation, averaging 20.3 points per game and snatching up 6.3 rebounds as well. He can shoot well for a big man too; the 6'9" forward is shooting 36 percent from outside.
19. Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
Jacob Pullen is generally a household name amongst college basketball nation.
He had a great season last season and was integral in the Wildcats run into the Elite Eight. However, this season has been somewhat of a letdown for Kansas State, and sometimes Pullen looks frustrated as the leader of the team.
His level of play hasn't really decreased, but it has become harder for him to maintain his stats and success without Dennis Clemente to anchor the backcourt. Pullen is still one of the better guards in the Big 12 and the nation, but his role as a leader may not be as high as it once was.
18. Jon Leuer, Wisconsin
Jon Leuer belongs in the upper echelon of big men in the country.
Not only can he rebound and bang in the post, but he is a very good shooter and has plenty of range. He's third in the Big Ten in scoring and eighth in rebounding, plus he's been the leader of the Badger team that is ranked in the top 20 in the nation.
17. E'Twaun Moore, Purdue
Moore really stepped up as a leader of this Boilermaker team after Robbie Hummel hurt his knee once again this season.
He's adding valuable leadership to a somewhat inexperienced team in the backcourt, and he rarely turns the ball over. He's sixth in the conference in scoring, 15th in assists and 15th in rebounds as well.
16. Corey Fisher, Villanova
Corey Fisher is one of the better scoring point guards in the country, and he's in the top 10 in both scoring and assists in the stacked Big East Conference.
He's also stepped in as the team leader for the Wildcats in the absence of star Scottie Reynolds. After three years of playing second fiddle, Fisher has emerged as the go-to-guy of the Villanova team, and he has them playing excellent basketball.
15. Xavier Silas, Northern Illinois
Xavier Silas is one of the rising stars of the senior class.
He has many scouts turning their heads because of his scoring campaign this season. Now second in the nation in scoring (just above UCONN's Kemba Walker), Silas is easily the best player on Northern Illinois. He's the only one on his team averaging double-digit scoring, and he's shooting 48 percent from the floor and 43 percent from long-range. He scored 39 against Akron on Wednesday and grabbed eight rebounds as well.
While the Huskies probably won't be dancing this March, that won't keep Silas from improving his draft status.
14. Andrew Goudelock, College of Charleston
Goudelock has plenty of experience against better teams, and he's brought some down before as well.
Last season, he was the catalyst that led to the self-implosion of the North Carolina team. Their loss to Goudelock and the Cougars began their slide towards the bottom of the ACC. He's an all-around player that leads his team in scoring and assists.
His 23.5 points per game is fifth best in the nation, and his play has the Cougars in prime territory for a tournament bid.
13. Keith Benson, Oakland
Keith Benson is another mid-major talent that has emerged as a possible NBA prospect.
His play in the post is part of why the Grizzlies have a three-game lead in the Summit league. Benson averages a bit above 17 points per game and just a shade under a double-double (9.9 rebounds per game). He's also an excellent defender, currently third in the nation in blocks as well.
Expect to see Benson in the NCAA tournament, making a case for a first-round draft pick.
12. Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech
Malcolm Delaney has been around forever it seems, but that's only because he's been playing at such a high level since he arrived in Blacksburg three-and-a-half years ago.
He's about as consistent as they come, but he's not having as great of a season as he normally does. That's saying something as he's still averaging 18.1 points per game and 4.5 assists which is good for third in the ACC in both categories.
His team has lost a lot of the supporting cast, but the Hokies might finally get an NCAA birth this season if Delaney can keep playing like he has been.
11. Ryan Rossiter, Siena
Ryan Rossiter is definitely in the top three mid-major big men in the country, which, judging by this year's crop is really saying something.
He's second in the country in rebounding (12.9 pg), and he's averaging 19.1 points too. Siena isn't having the success that they have had in the past, but Rossiter is putting together a great season for himself.
10. Demetri McCamey, Illinois
McCamey came back for his senior season after a less than welcoming reception from NBA scouts last season.
The defending assists leader is back for a fourth time around though, and it is going pretty well for him. Although his numbers are down a little bit, Illinois is still playing really well, and he's proving that he's more than just a passer. He's shooting almost 50 percent from three-point land, and he is still averaging 15.1 points per game as a pass-first point guard.
He's still fifth in the country in assists, and in the long run, there are very few point guards in the country I would rather have than Demetri McCamey.
9. Norris Cole, Cleveland State
Norris Cole is another surprise from the mid-major ranks.
With the fall of Butler, Norris Cole and Cleveland State rose to the top of the Horizon League. Cole is a huge reason for the Vikings' success. Amazingly, the 6'2" guard is leading the Horizon league in points, assists, steals and is in the top 10 in rebounds. His play has the Vikings at a 20-3 mark on the season and in sole possession of first place, for now.
They have a huge game on Thursday vs. second place Valparaiso that may very well decide who gets the first seed in the conference tournament.
8. Talor Battle, Penn State
Talor Battle has been the guy at Penn State for three straight years now, and he's not slowing down.
As each year passes, Battle improves his statistics and has Penn State playing better. In fact, this year, Battle and the Nittany Lions may actually make the tournament. Riding his 20.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists, Penn State has already beaten Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan State in conference play and the only losses separating those wins are a three-point loss at Ohio State and a one-point heartbreaker to Purdue.
7. Marshon Brooks, Providence
Marshon Brooks may be more of a surprise than anyone else this season.
My vote for Big East Most Improved Player, Brooks has taken his increase in playing time and hit the ground running. With an increase in minutes, he's also increased his output in almost every statistical category. He's second in the Big East in points per game (23.5 ppg) and leads Providence in rebounds as a guard. He's also an excellent defender, averaging 1.3 blocks and 1.7 steals per game.
With recent upsets over Villanova and Louisville, Providence still has an outside shot at an at-large bid, but Brooks has to step up big time in the next few weeks.
6. Kyle Singler, Duke
The Preseason Player of the Year in the NCAA, Singler hasn't exactly lived up to expectations.This is no fault of his however; he's still having a great season.
He's fourth in the ACC in scoring and still grabs over six rebounds per game. Just because he's not putting up statistical numbers doesn't necessarily mean he's having a bad season. Singler is still one of the leaders on the Blue Devil team and usually he's a measuring stick as to how the team as a whole is playing.
People don't name someone Preseason Player of the Year for no reason. He has all the tools; he just hasn't needed to use them.
5. Kenneth Faried, Morehead State
Faried has improved his draft status more than any other senior this season—hands down.
The nationwide leader in rebounds is averaging over 14 per game, plus he's putting up 17.1 points per game while still managing to shooting 62 percent from the field. If that weren't enough, he's an incredibly athletic player and an extremely dominant defender, blocking two shots per game and averaging a little over one steal per game.
His athleticism makes him a huge sleeper in the NBA Draft, and if the rest of his team can pull together, the Eagles may make the tournament, only one game out of first place in the Ohio Valley.
4. Charles Jenkins, Hofstra
Charles Jenkins is the best mid-major player in the country this season.
His 23.3 points per game is just outside the top five in the country, and the semi-success of Hofstra is definitely a result of Jenkins. He can take over any game, and he's about as good at passing the ball as he is shooting and scoring. He still manages to get over five assists per game and just under four rebounds too. Hofstra's team relies on Jenkins and for good reason.
The Pride may be within striking distance of the top spot in their conference, but Jenkins will have to show exactly why he's so good to get there.
3. JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
JaJuan Johnson is in a battle for Big Ten Player of the Year with the upstart freshman Jared Sullinger.
Johnson definitely has the numbers to support such a nomination, posting 20.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. His leadership, along with E'Twaun Moore's, has helped to keep the Boilermakers afloat, and Johnson has hit multiple big shots for them this season.
Although he may be eclipsed by Sullinger as Big Ten Player of the Year, Johnson is still an All-American to me.
2. Nolan Smith, Duke
Nolan Smith has shown why he is the best player in the ACC and one of the best in the nation this season.
His ACC high 21 points per game is easily the best in the ACC, and he still dishes out over 5.5 assists per game and grabs almost five rebounds per game as well. An excellent on-ball defender, Smith is the complete package, and he's proved it this season. He has one of the best teams in the country surrounding him, yet he still manages to put up monster numbers. In fact, he's made Kyle Singler look less talented than he normally does, which is a feat in and of itself.
Although they lost, Smith took over the comeback for Duke against St. John's on Sunday and ended up with 32 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
1. Jimmer Fredette, Brigham Young
There really shouldn't be much dissension for the top spot. Fredette is easily one of the top two players in the country this season, possibly the best.
He's leading the entire country in scoring, and he has the Cougars in the Top 10. Not only is he averaging 27.6 points per game, he's dishing over four assists per game and grabbing three rebounds. He's about as complete a player for his size, and it doesn't seem like he's slowing down.
Expect more big things from the Fredette show this season.