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Top 25 Players so far in NCAA

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Top 25 Players so far in NCAA

http://insider.espn.go.com/ncb/insider/columns/story?columnist=bilas_jay&id=5925726

In responding to a question of why he played so hard, late Yankees great Joe DiMaggio said that there was always a kid seeing him play for the first time.

With that in mind, what would you think if the only basketball you had seen were the first five weeks of this college basketball season? Which players would you evaluate as having performed at the highest level and proved themselves to be the best by virtue only of their actual productivity and accomplishment in November and December?

And let's not talk about future potential or some NBA mock draft. We are not factoring in past performance or honors brought into this season. This is a narrow exercise and the focus is on the here and now. This is about production, efficiency, value to one's team and flat out getting it done on the college level.

Some players on this snapshot list may fall off in their future performance. Some players left off this list will undoubtedly turn it up and knock the bottom out of it over the next three months and move up with a bullet. But right here, right now, these are my top 25 performers in college basketball:

1. Kemba Walker, Connecticut: The best player in the country. Walker has averaged a nation-leading 28 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals per game and has shot 53 percent from the floor and 88 percent from the line. He has carried UConn and has not had a bad outing.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Morris
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesKansas' Marcus Morris averages 17 points and six rebounds and is shooting 53 percent from the field.

2. Marcus Morris, Kansas: He is the best combo forward in the country, and if he could shoot free throws (59.6 percent), he would be right there with Walker. Morris can post or step away, shoot or drive, and he plays with a great demeanor and terrific efficiency. Morris averages 17 points and six rebounds and is shooting 53 percent from the field. And he averages only 10 shots per game.

3. Derrick Williams, Arizona: Williams (19.5 ppg) is greatly improved from a year ago. He is not just explosive; he is consistent and efficient in his use of his multiple tools. He can step away and he can get to the line and knock in free throws.

4. Kyrie Irving, Duke: It is a shame that Irving went down with that freak toe injury. As a freshman, he was arguably the best true point guard in the country. He was averaging 17 points, four rebounds and five assists and was shooting 53 percent from the floor, 45 from 3 and 89 from the line. After eight games, no point guard was more valuable at both ends.

5. Kenneth Faried, Morehead State: Faried has a skill that very few possess: He can go get the ball. For the third year in a row, Faried is averaging 13 or more rebounds per game. Most good rebounders don't do that in high school, let alone college. But Faried has arms that go forever and he is averaging 19 points and a nation-best 13.7 rebounds while shooting 66 percent from the floor. Faried grabs five offensive rebounds per game and is all energy.

6. Jimmer Fredette, BYU: There isn't a better scoring guard in the country. Fredette averages just under 24 points per game and gets basket after basket against the opponent's best perimeter defender. Fredette is tougher than nails and plays hard on both ends.

7. Jon Leuer, Wisconsin: Leuer has to be among the most underrated players in the country. He has size and great skills and can play inside or out. Leuer is an outstanding shooter who can shoot off the catch or the dribble. He's averaging 20 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists and is shooting 50 percent from 3-point range and 79 percent from the free throw line.

8. Klay Thompson, Washington State: Thompson can really shoot it, and he can defend as well. He is an elite shooter who can drain shots and he has gotten stronger. After eight games, Thompson averaged over 20 points, four rebounds and nearly five assists per game, and he has shot the ball well (50 percent).

9. Demetri McCamey, Illinois: A great advertisement for staying in school, McCamey is taking his efficiency to a new level. He's strong and a terrific penetrator and scorer who is averaging 15.8 points and 7.3 assists while shooting 52 percent from the floor, 52 percent from 3 and 71 percent from the line.

Charles Jenkins
AP Photo/Ricardo ArduengoAt 25 ppg, Hofstra's Charles Jenkins is enjoying a stellar senior season.

10. Charles Jenkins, Hofstra: Jenkins is a big-time college player. He is a scoring guard who is quick and strong, and he knows how to play. He averages 25.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists and shoots 59 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line. As good as he was last season, Jenkins has been even better as a senior.

11. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State: No big guy has been better. Sullinger has a great basketball IQ, finishes around the goal and is very refined and efficient on the offensive end. He is averaging 17.2 points (on barely 10 attempts per game) and 8.6 rebounds and is shooting 59 percent from the field.

12. Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State: I don't know what his position is or where to peg him, but Leonard has to be on the floor. He is always around the ball, and he is so active and aggressive that his productivity is off the charts. Long-armed and energetic, Leonard averages 16.3 points and 9.9 rebounds, including three offensive rebounds per game.

13. Brad Wanamaker, Pittsburgh: Wanamaker averages 13.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and six assists and is the only player in a major conference averaging more than five rebounds and five assists a game. Wanamaker is a play-making big guard, and he is a man on the floor.

14. Nolan Smith, Duke: Smith is an excellent all-around guard and has played his best when he has been needed most. He is averaging 16.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists and is shooting 49 percent from the floor.

15. Austin Freeman, Georgetown: Freeman is a Mark Aguirre-like guard who can make any shot you want and is a better athlete than you think. He is putting up 18.9 points per game and shooting 54 percent from the field, 48 percent from the arc and 83 percent from the line.

16. John Shurna, Northwestern: Shurna doesn't look the part, but this kid can play. He is averaging 23 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists and is shooting 64 percent from the field and 65 percent from beyond the 3-point line.

17. Terrence Jones, Kentucky: Jones is still learning how to play, and that is scary. He is a long and athletic lefty who has it all and has averaged 18.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and nearly two blocks despite shooting only 45 percent from the floor and 57 percent from the line. If he starts knocking down free throws, forget it.

18. Matt Howard, Butler: When he stays on the floor, few big guys are as productive and efficient. Howard averages 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals and shoots 54 percent from the floor and 83 percent from the line.

19. Reggie Jackson, Boston College: Jackson can get a little wild, but when he is on, he is one of the best scoring guards in the country. He's quick, fast with the ball and can get his own shots and make them under duress. He is averaging 19.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 52 percent from the field, 48 percent from 3 and 83 percent from the line.

[+] EnlargeE'Twaun Moore
AP Photo/Tom StrattmanMoore's versatility on both ends of the floor is a big asset for Purdue.

20. E'Twaun Moore, Purdue: The versatile leader of the banged-up Boilers scores, defends and does each efficiently. Moore is averaging almost 21 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals and is shooting 50 percent from the floor, 46 percent from 3 and 70 percent from the line.

21. Gary Flowers, Southern Mississippi: The Oklahoma State transfer has expanded his game and has been bringing effort consistently at Southern Miss. He is averaging 21.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and is shooting 53 percent from the floor, 50 percent from 3 and 71 percent from the line.

22. Rick Jackson, Syracuse: Jackson is keeping it simple, finishing plays, cleaning the glass and leading his frontcourt by example. He is averaging 14 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.9 blocks and 1.4 steals. Few big guys have been as productive.

23. Jordan Williams, Maryland: Williams is playing with guards who do not efficiently get the ball to him, yet he is really productive. He is averaging 18.5 points and 11.9 rebounds and is shooting 59 percent from the floor. If he could were making his free throws (54 percent), he would be even higher on this list.

24. Jordan Hamilton, Texas: Hamilton has size, versatility and can shoot it from range. He is averaging 18.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 41 percent from 3.

25. Norris Cole, Cleveland State: Cole gets his own shot, has a good middle game, lives at the line and averages 21.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists.


Malik-Universal
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i dont like this list at all

i dont like this list at all

Hale
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Blame Jay Bilas for that.

Blame Jay Bilas for that.

llperez
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what dont you like about it?

what dont you like about it?

Malik-Universal
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the rankings stink.... i

the rankings stink.... i think kalin lucas shood be on the list... and terrene jones should be a lot higher

and how the hell is sullinger lower than faired... ive seen faired play, dude can ball, but over sullinger???????

wow

andxxx
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no kyle singler?

no kyle singler?

JNixon
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Not a fan of this list ESPN!

Not a fan of this list ESPN! Tisk tisk. Lots of names left off. IMO, here it is:

1. Kemba Walker

2. Derrick Williams

3. Kyrie Irving (when healthy)

4. Marcus Morris

5. Jimmer Fredette

6. Jared Sullinger

7. Nolan Smith

8. Demetri McCamey

9. Kyle Singler

10. JaJuan Johnson

11. Kalin Lucas

12. Jacob Pullen

13. Terrence Jones

14. Jon Leuer

15. LaceDarius Dunn

16. Kenny Faried

17. E'Twaun Moore

18. Charles Jenkins

19. Jordan Hamilton

20. Austin Freeman

21. Keith Benson

22. Rick Jackson

23. Corey Fisher

24. John Shurna

25. Travis Leslie

BothTeamsPlayedHard
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"the rankings stink.... i

"the rankings stink.... i think kalin lucas shood be on the list... and terrene jones should be a lot higher

and how the hell is sullinger lower than faired... ive seen faired play, dude can ball, but over sullinger???????

wow"

Terrence Jones has been far from consistent. Kalin Lucas has not had a particularly good year to date. Sullinger has been dominant at times, but has not been asked to shoulder the load that Faried has. Ohio State has a lot of talent, and it isn't like they are simply all about Sullinger.

"no kyle singler?"

Nor should there be.

Malik-Universal
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faired plays in a small

faired plays in a small conference while sullinger plays in the big 10.... idc bout the work load, sullinger is just better overall

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too early to bring up what

too early to bring up what conference they play in though since games are all non conference now

Malik-Universal
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im talking about just

im talking about just overall....

BothTeamsPlayedHard
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"We are not factoring in past

"We are not factoring in past performance or honors brought into this season. This is a narrow exercise and the focus is on the here and now. This is about production, efficiency, value to one's team and flat out getting it done on the college level."

I think given how Bilas framed what he was doing the list is for the most part quite good. I don't think Matt Howard deserves to be on the list (5-4 team with maybe one good win) and Trevor Mbakwe does, but that is kind of a minimal point.

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this ranking is based on the

this ranking is not based on the players as prospects.. other wise this list would be a whole lot different. its based upon the current skills of the players and the levels that they are playing at . for example. terrences jones is hands down the better prospect between him and morris. but whos the better player? and thats what this list is all about. is faried having a better season than sullinger? yes, and he has way more experience so i really dont have a problem with him being higher in this particular list. i really do think kalin lucas should be on this list but hey, each to its own

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Matt Howard struggles

Matt Howard struggles whenever he plays a good team. He's a terrible athlete and it shows on D, where he gets in foul trouble just about every time he plays a big man worth note. I want him to play good against a good team before he's a top 25 player. He's a decent player who pads his stats against subpar competition IMO.

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Watching Marcus Morris play,

Watching Marcus Morris play, i think of when Pierce was at Kansas..Pierce wasnt a great athlete either,but like Morris he had a great feel for the game..And good inside/outside skills...

Its good to see Norris Cole getting a shoutout..

Sullinger and Terrance Jones should be in the top 10 on this list....

And i'm gonna go out on a limb and say Kemba Walker stats will go down in Jan.

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I think Howard's main issue

I think Howard's main issue isn't athleticism as much as just being generally undersized. He's only 6'8" 230. I remember watching him getting manhandled by Greg Monroe. Nobody his size has any business guarding 7 footers, or really any legit center for that matter.

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Terrence should be top10

Terrence should be top10 easily! imo

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Shoulda read, in no particular order....

It's nice to see Kemba get some love, glad they beat UK and MSU otherwise the schools they have played are ment for him to drop 30 a game. Big east is going to be tough, but with Kemba it makes life easier as a uconn fan.

I must ask Why didnt Jim Calhoun recuit the sh*t out of Jordan Williams? Him teamed with Oriahki would of be fierce. Another Ryan Gomes decision? Kid is a ogre! The kid is from connecticut and uconn has proven to develop bigs rather well?

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sullinger higher

jared sullinger should be higher on the list right now he playing the best among freshman

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I agree, Sullinger has been

I agree, Sullinger has been an absolute beast. Is it just me, or does his build remind anyone else of a stronger version of Wayne Simien?

Im Your Father
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^ I kind of see it.

^ I kind of see it.

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i thought simien would be a

i thought simien would be a nice pro...

sullinger also plays like another former buckeye clark kellogg.....

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Wayne Simien was a BEAST in

Wayne Simien was a BEAST in college. I thought he'd be a good role-player in the NBA too. I forgot all about that guy

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I think Simien had to retire

I think Simien had to retire becuz of injuries...

basketballforever1
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Don't comment on KENNETH

Don't comment on KENNETH FARIED unless you know how to spell his name. Obviously he's good or he wouldnt be that high in the rankings. He deserves to be put that high on the list. Averaging 13.7 boards a game. He's a beast. Morehead state is competing with good teams.

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Don't comment on KENNETH

Don't comment on KENNETH FARIED unless you know how to spell his name. Obviously he's good or he wouldnt be that high in the rankings. He deserves to be put that high on the list. Averaging 13.7 boards a game. He's a beast. Morehead state is competing with good teams.


basketballforever1 I truly feel that you either are, or are in some way related to Kenneth

arman
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..

no,he became minister,and i thought that he was going to be at least solid bench player

Windy City Assassin
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Shouldn't Terrence Jones be

Shouldn't Terrence Jones be in the Top 5 on that list or at least Top 10

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Wayne got killed on injuries,

Wayne got killed on injuries, he struggled with them in college and was one of the most polished big men I've seen at the college level. Injuries did cut back his career and he is a minister in Lawrence, KS (where KU is) so both of you guys are right. He used to work out at the gym I go to when he was back in town for the summer when he was still playing ball (many times rehabbing injuries), he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever talk to.

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haha jnixon puts jacob pullen

haha jnixon puts jacob pullen on the list...thats really cute...he doesn't belong anywhere close to the list, his season has been quite disappointing

JNixon
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Ehh you're probably right.

Ehh you're probably right. lol

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