top college defenders this year (fran fraschilla espn)
Fran's Top Defenders
Fran Fraschilla breaks down what makes a good defender and who is the best in college hoops.
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Fran's Top DefendersQuality defensive players come in all shapes and sizes, so it's obvious that physical requirements are a given. Coaching takes a player to another defensive level.
Most important, however, is watching a player's mental approach to the game on the defensive end. The elite defenders relish the chance to shut down good players or help shut down good teams. That is an innate quality that should not have to be coached.
Here are a few of the best in college basketball this season. As always, there will be plenty of players left off that are deserving of recognition. I'll be on the lookout for other top defenders all season long.
Jacob Pullen, 6-0, Sr., Kansas State
Needless to say, Pullen is a tough guy. In part, it is because he is his head coach Frank Martin's alter ego and possesses the same thermometer-popping intensity. While there will be added pressure on Pullen to lead offensively with co-pilot Denis Clemente graduated, there is no denying that Pullen's Windy City competitiveness will rub off on his Wildcats teammates on the defensive end.
Venoy Overton, 6-2, Sr., Washington
Even Terminix couldn't get rid of Overton, as he is back for a second straight year as a pest on my "best defenders" team. He is a terrific on-ball defender with the strength and quickness to pick up full-court and disrupt opponents' ball handlers. Just as importantly, Overton's tenacity and loud mouth are as disruptive as his physical skills.
Kemba Walker, 6-1. Jr., Connecticut
Walker has the excellent speed and lateral movement to be an aggressive on-ball defender, and he is. He also anticipates passing lanes well, which was good for two steals a game last season. The Bronx product grew up playing in the same neighborhood with guys like Miami rising star Durand Scott and the tough-minded Truck Bryant of West Virginia. So competing on both ends of the floor is in his DNA.
[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Julie Jacobson
Shelvin Mack (left) and Ronald Nored are the main cogs of Butler's stout defense.
Ronald Nored/Shelvin Mack, Butler
Nored gets more of the credit for Butler's half-court defense, in part because Mack is such an important part of the Bulldogs' offense. But make no mistake about it: Both of these guys are outstanding half-court defenders and are as physical as Indianapolis Colts inside linebackers. It makes for quite a backcourt.
Chris Singleton, 6-9, Sr., Florida St.
The thing that has impressed NBA scouts most about Singleton is his ability to guard at least three different NBA positions. His condor-like wingspan, his athleticism and FSU's emphasis on good half-court defensive concepts earns him a spot on my team.
Jeffery Taylor, 6-6, Jr., Vanderbilt
If you wanted to construct the perfect wing defender in college basketball, you could do worse than choosing Taylor. He has every physical attribute a coach looks for, including strength, foot quickness, athleticism and the size to guard four positions. The only thing possibly stopping him from being the country's best defender is his focus when he is away from the ball. When that improves, watch out!
The rim protectors
Gary McGhee, 6-10, Sr., Pittsburgh
Unless you are a Big East fan, you may not even know McGhee. But with his combination of size and strength and his improvement over several seasons in the Panthers' hard-nosed system, the 250-pounder should have a huge say in how far Jamie Dixon's club gets in the NCAA tournament. He won't block a ton of shots, but scoring over him in the lane will be problematic for opponents.
JaJuan Johnson, 6-10, Sr., Purdue
Johnson reminds me of a young Marcus Camby, but obviously he's not nearly as dominant a college player. He does have Camby's rubbery athleticism that allows him to protect the rim at the Boilermakers' defensive end of the court as a shot-blocker and rebounder. His presence in the lane was a huge reason Purdue had the country's eighth-best field goal defense inside the arc last season.
The glass cleaners
Kenneth Faried, 6-9, Sr., Morehead State
No defensive possession is a success if it isn't ended in a turnover or forced shot that is rebounded. Faried, who averaged a rebound on a phenomenal 37 percent of his team's defensive possessions last season, is blessed with a better nose for the ball than a dolphin. An NBA GM once told me that he looks for draft value in guys who are their conference's defensive player of the year. Faried is already a two-time winner of the award in the Ohio Valley, so his NBA prospects look promising.
Lavoy Allen, 6-9, Sr., Temple
Since coming to Temple, Allen has had the rap of not playing his hardest all the time, but one Atlantic 10 coach told me not to be fooled by his sleepy demeanor. The 6-foot-9 senior averaged a double-double last season, in part because he is always in the right position on the floor. Allen's size, mental quickness and great hands make him an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker for Fran Dunphy's Owls.
Other top defenders: Kent Bazemore, Old Dominion; Vernon Macklin, Florida; Damian Saunders, Duquesne; Will Coleman, Memphis; Rick Jackson, Syracuse; Jorge Gutierrez, Cal; David Foster, Utah; David Lighty, Ohio State; Zeke Marshall, Akron; Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State
and no way venoy overton is 6-2. He is listed as 5-11 on the huskies home page and i think that is being generous.
I agree with the list for the most part.
What happened to the pg from
Texas. He was talked about as a very good defender last year. Did his d get worst over the summer?
Avery Bradley? Valdez Ward? or Jai Lucas? Doug Balbay?
mannnnn...i really cant wait till college bball, when does it start btw
Everyone loved his on the ball defense and passing lane anticipation when he was comming out of HS as an All American.
He was a mid to late first rounder for the Celtics and had surgery. Thats why you didnt see him in summer league.
I agree, especially with Pullen, Singleton, Mcghee, and Walker. All pretty tenacious on D.
No it was the guard who was awful on offense. I think he tore his acl near the end of the year. They always said ge was one of the best defenders in the nation
Balbay is a great defender most times, but he's not one of the best in the nation.
I'm soooo glad Jacob Pullen was mentioned here. He was PHENOMENAL on D last season with only marginal recognition around the nation, which is even more impressive considering he carried a huge load of our offense last year.
IMO, Venoy Overton is the best perimeter defender in college basketball. He denies penetration with his incredibly great lateral quickness and stength, and he contests everything despite being like 5'9 or 5'10. He was an impressive defender last year for Washington and he has been for the past 2 or 3 years.
Overall I think the talent in the ncaa is kinda watered down this year compared to the last few years. Right now theres not many bigtime upperclassmen. Singler and Walker might be the best but I hope some guys step up. I know they usually do but most guys are still all about potential but really havent produced a whole lot
I don't agree with the talent being down every year someone steps up. Actually a couple people step up and suprise. We won't know how talented this year is till the season starts
Kemba Walker, 6-1. Jr., Connecticut
Walker has the excellent speed and lateral movement to be an aggressive on-ball defender, and he is. He also anticipates passing lanes well, which was good for two steals a game last season. The Bronx product grew up playing in the same neighborhood with guys like Miami rising star Durand Scott and the tough-minded Truck Bryant of West Virginia. So competing on both ends of the floor is in his DNA
I know both of these guys. Walker and Scott that is. Walker is an amazing defender and has great athletic ability. He is very strong and don't back down from anything. Scott is the same way, but Walker is alittle beyond him in terms of athletic ability. Scott is a 2 guard naturally though, but I think he can adjust to playing the two. Both could improve their shooting, however.
two that need to at least be mentioned are Robbie Hummel and Dallas Lauderdale....
Love that Venoy Overton is getting his respect...but the guy is nowhere near 6-2.....
No John Henson? Come'on man...Henson is going to lead the ACC in shot blocking this year.
David Lighty Of Ohio State is a great on ball defender also.