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June 7, 2012
Last Year's Top 100 Players
26 to 60

by Drew Cannon

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Last summer Drew came up with a preseason list of the top 100 players is Division I. So did CBS. Now Drew's looking at how well he and CBS did way back when by counting down a new top 100 based on actual performance in 2011-12.

Yesterday: 61 to 100.

60. PF Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso, Jr. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
Broekhoff had a supremely efficient season as the second option for a pretty average Valparaiso team. He shot 60/39/80 and ranked in the top 50 nationally in defensive rebounding rate.

59. SG Rodney McGruder, Kansas State, Jr. (Me: unranked; CBS: 66)
McGruder made third-team All-Big 12 as a sophomore, and I thumbed my nose at that when making my rankings. All he did was shoot threes -- I thought he was a role player. And I think I was right, at the time. He certainly was not a role player last year. McGruder shot nearly as well from behind the arc, but he attempted well over twice as many two-pointers (making half) and nearly twice as many free throws (making 80 percent). He also turned the ball over less. If McGruder can make another usage jump like he has between his freshman and sophomore and between his sophomore and junior years, he's an All-American as a senior in 2013.

58. SG Dion Waiters, Syracuse, So. (Me: 74; CBS: unranked)
Before last season people pinned Kris Joseph as the star for Syracuse, but Waiters ended up running right alongside him as a leader of the Orange. Waiters scored as a slasher and as a shooter and likely forced more turnovers than he committed. Jim Boeheim preferred to have Waiters come off the bench, but when the sophomore was on the floor no one was more important to the Syracuse offense.

57. PG Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's, Jr. (Me: unranked; CBS: 65)
In terms of running an offense, Dellavedova was one of the better performers in the country, and when pressed he could hunt for his own shot, as well. He can't be left alone on the perimeter, and he got to the line constantly. Rob Jones departs, but Brad Waldow was an outstanding backup big and he and Dellavedova should be enough for the Gaels to fight for an NCAA at-large berth.

56. SF Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State, So. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
I don't feel bad about whiffing on Franklin. As a freshman he barely played 10 percent of the Aztecs' minutes and used just 21 percent of the team's possessions when he was on the floor. Then as a sophomore he was given starter's minutes: he jumped to a 31 percent usage rate, still shot 50/33/80, and even improved as a rebounder.

55. PG Trey Burke, Michigan, Fr. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
Burke came out of nowhere to become one of two key cogs on a No. 4 seed. He was named to the All-Big Ten second team and split the conference Freshman of the Year award with Cody Zeller. Burke and Zeller are the two best freshmen in all of Division I from last year who are returning, and they're both Big Ten products on preseason top-five teams. There should be some battles .

54. PF Elias Harris, Gonzga, Jr. (Me: Honorable Mention; CBS: 20)
Alright, the No. 20 from CBS was too high, but I did miss badly on this one. I don't even remember what my thought process was here. Harris has been one of my favorite players since early in his freshman year, and I shouldn't have held back so much because he didn't improve much between his freshman and sophomore seasons.

53. PG Jorge Gutierrez, California, Sr. (Me: 25; CBS: 57)
I only gave one guy an unduly large boost for perimeter defense, and it was Gutierrez when it should have been Aaron Craft. Gutierrez was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, which in a normal season would put him much higher on this list. He was the heart and soul of a Cal team that I considered a serious threat to make the Sweet 16 once the NCAA tournament pairings were announced. Gutierrez had a really strong season, but I should have recognized, like the CBS guys apparently did, that he was never going to be a dominant offensive player.

52. SG Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette, Sr. (Me: 42; CBS: 53)
DJO had one of the shortest blurbs in my preseason rundown, and he will again: The dude was just a rock-solid, no-frills 2-guard. Everyone thought he'd be about this good, and he was.

51. PF Wendelll McKines, New Mexico State, Sr. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
I spent a lot of time wondering if I should have put McKines in my preseason top 100, even though I ended up leaving him out. I don't know why I spent so much time considering it -- looking back at his numbers from the years before his 2010-11 injury redshirt, his trajectory was nowhere near his 2011-12 output -- but something about him always struck me as untapped. Of course that's easy to say now, especially with no documentation of others whom I considered similarly. But let's take a moment and admire what McKines did last year: He added a jump shot (in 2010, he made 16 threes and hit 57 percent from the free throw line; in 2012 he buried 51 triples and shot 76 percent from the stripe), became a go-to scorer on the interior, and maintained his outstanding rebounding on both ends. Without McKines in 2011, New Mexico State was a middle-of-the-road WAC team, and they would have been again in 2012 if he hadn't exploded.

50. PF Rob Jones, Saint Mary's, Sr. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
According to Kenpom, the player whose 2012 was most similar to the one recorded by Wendell McKines was Rob Jones. Solid scorer, rebounding force.

49. C Cameron Moore, UAB, Sr. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
Moore was an All-C-USA first-teamer and the conference Defensive Player of the Year. He was by far the best offensive player and by far the best defensive player on a team that finished in the top half of its mid-major league.

48. SG Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut, So. (Me: 17; CBS: 15)
Last summer I gave two guys major extra credit for their late-season 2011 performances: Jeremy Lamb and Harrison Barnes. I won't do that again. Lamb was a very good basketball player last year, but I think we collectively got a little too excited about a couple fantastic games in March 2011. I thought I was being conservative ranking Lamb so low -- CBS's comparable ranking isn't indicative of the hype I felt he had at the time -- but it turns out I wasn't being all that conservative anyway. The 30-game college basketball season is already a pretty small sample size. Cutting it down much smaller than that can lead you down some pretty wild paths.

47. SF Kris Joseph, Syracuse, Sr. (Me: 58; CBS: 22)
I mentioned that Dion Waiters was the most important offensive player Syracuse had when he was on the floor. Joseph was the Orange's most important player, period. He played over six minutes per game more than any teammate. His most impressive skill was volume scoring without turning the ball over.

46. PF Terrence Jones, Kentucky, So. (Me: 4; CBS: 11)
Jones did finally get it going, but it took most of the year for that to happen. He wasn't ready to be the third-best player on his team, and there are plenty of people out there who'd put Doron Lamb or Darius Miller or Marquis Teague ahead of him. Jones was actually slightly more efficient as a scorer last year than he was as a freshman, he just saw a huge cut in his usage and didn't become hyperefficient. I thought Jones, with his talent, would be ready to trampoline off his monster freshman season and have an All-American sophomore campaign. Turns out it wasn't quite that simple. It should be stated, though, that he was top-50 good last season, no matter how much he is sometimes painted as a disappointment.

45. PG Tu Holloway, Xavier, Sr. (Me: 5; CBS: 4)
Holloway had a mind-blowing 2010-11, and everything needed to go perfectly for him to top it. The Cincinnati fight was not part of a perfect year. But his start to the season was outstanding, and the Musketeers did make it to the Sweet 16, even if their round of 32 opponent was a No. 15 seed (Lehigh). We probably should have recognized that Holloway's peak was 2011, although, looking back, I don't know who I would have put above him.

44. SG Kenny Boynton, Florida, Jr. (Me: 26; CBS: unranked)
Boynton was a victim of expectations. Not only was he consistently ranked in the top 10 as a high schooler, but he was touted as the kind of elite scorer who could step on campus and immediately be a star. So when he wasn't that as a freshman, he was a bust. When he wasn't that as a sophomore, he was a bust again. By the time he actually pulled it off as a junior and helped lead Florida to a second consecutive Elite Eight, it was new Next Big Things Brad Beal and Patric Young who got the credit. In 2012, John Jenkins, Western Carolina's Keaton Cole, and Oakland's Reggie Hamilton and Travis Bader all made more three-pointers than Boynton. But that's the whole list. And Boynton hit those threes against major-conference defenses, made 50 percent of his shots inside the arc, and never turned the ball over. My No. 26 ranking was overaggressive, but this was a really impressive season.

43. PG Pierre Jackson, Baylor, Jr. (Me: 100; CBS: unranked)
Jackson shot excellent percentages of 50/41/82 while using 26 percent of Baylor's possessions and leading the Big 12 in assist rate. The Bears would have fallen to pieces if it hadn't been for his ability to run the point. Compared to backup A.J. Walton, Jackson's 26 percent turnover rate was downright steady. To be honest I'd never seen him play before ranking him No. 100 on the recommendations of others, so it's tough for me to take any credit.

42. SF Harrison Barnes, North Carolina, So. (Me: 2; CBS: 2)
Here's what I wrote about Barnes last July, in comparison to Jeremy Lamb: "If Lamb is no better than a second-team all-conference performer, I'd understand. If Barnes is no better than that, I'll be floored." NBA-bound Barnes has been discussed as if all he can do is shoot. Last season he hit 49 threes and 180 twos. So I'd listen to the "Barnes can't do anything at all" argument before the "all he can do is shoot" one. Here's the thing with Barnes: I've seen him be a really good defender. I've seen him handle the ball and lead the break. I've seen him shoot well, I've seen him take it to the rack and appear unstoppable. I just never saw him do all of that in college on a big stage. I've seen him do it all in high school on a big stage, and in college on a small stage, and I've seen him do some of that in college on a big stage. He never quite put it all together, but I have a hard time writing him off as an NBA prospect.

41. SF Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State, So. (Me: 24; CBS: 73)
Thomas was one of the biggest reasons that ranking Thomas Robinson really high scared me. Thomas's production in limited time in 2010-11 was better even than Robinson's, and I really didn't want to rank Thomas much higher than 24. I should have gone with my gut and moved them both a few notches in the right direction. Regardless, Thomas cut down his usage rate a bit last season, but shot 60/35/75 and ranked among the national leaders in turnover rate. As a freshman he rebounded much better than he did last year -- I'd like to see that aspect of his game come back in 2013.

40. C Robert Sacre, Gonzaga, Sr. (Me: 99; CBS: 79)
Sacre had a really impressive senior season. On a team with three stud big men (Sacre, Elias Harris and Sam Dower), he stood out because of his defensive presence and his ability to get to the line (he recorded the fourth-highest free throw rate in the country).

39. C Garrett Stutz, Wichita State, Sr. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
Stutz's extreme lack of quickness (along with sporadic bouts of foul trouble) kept him off the floor for stretches, or he'd rank even higher than this. He scored effectively in the post, and he has a nice shooting stroke. Stutz's rebounding is truly fantastic, and he wasn't a bad post defender either. He just couldn't chase a quicker big around the perimeter with much success.

38. PF Drew Gordon, New Mexico, Sr. (Me: 60; CBS: 58)
We knew Gordon would rebound with the best in the nation and provide the Lobos with a trusty interior scoring option. I didn't realize how effective he would be on defense. New Mexico's two-point FG defense ranked No. 19 in the country, and Gordon was a huge part of that.

37. C Mike Muscala, Bucknell, Jr. (Me: 82; CBS: unranked)
C.J. McCollum stole the Patriot League headlines, even before his takedown of Duke in the round of 64. But Mike Muscala's 2012 would have been the best in almost half the leagues in America. His PET score ranked No. 14 in the nation, and his 203 made free throws made ranked sixth. While using 30 percent of the Bison's possessions, he hit 51 percent of his twos. Muscala was one of the best rebounders in the country. McCollum gets all the hype -- and he's earned plenty -- but Muscala won the Patriot Player of the Year award in 2011 as a sophomore, and it wouldn't be a shock if he won another as a senior in 2013.

36. PF Jack Cooley, Notre Dame, Jr. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
Another case for the "should have trusted the small sample size numbers" file. In 2010-11 Cooley played just a quarter of ND's minutes but shot 66 percent from the field and put up offensive and defensive rebounding percentages of 18 and 17, respectively. His per-possession numbers are disturbingly consistent from year to year across the board. He never turned the ball over either year, and he swatted his fair share of shots. The one difference: In 947 minutes in 2011-12, Cooley made 98 free throws, while, in 350 minutes in 2010-11, he only made 15. He didn't deserve the Big East POY hype he got for a second there, but he did have an outstanding season.

35. PG Nate Wolters, South Dakota State, Jr. (Me: 45; CBS: unranked)
Wolters ranked in the top 20 nationally in assist rate and in the top 75 in turnover rate. He shot 52 percent inside the arc, and only 11 players in the country scored more points at the free throw line. Based purely on offense, you could argue for Wolters to be top-10 on this list -- he ranked 8th in PET score -- which is even more amazing considering he shot just 24 percent on 137 three-point attempts. Wolters took a team without much talent and made things interesting against a Baylor team that lost in the Elite Eight to Kentucky. This season the Jackrabbits return nine of their top ten.

34. PG Reggie Hamilton, Oakland, Sr. (Me: 48; CBS: 96)
Hamilton trailed only Damian Lillard and Doug McDermott in PET score. He combined a massive usage rate with efficiency better than anyone in the country, and that plus the high-octane Oakland style meant he topped many a counting-stat leaderboard. Hamilton made more than 30 free throws more than anybody else and more threes than anyone but John Jenkins and teammate Travis Bader while ranking in the top 100 in two-pointers made. He was top-50 in assist rate and put a team on his back, effectively, like nobody else in the country. But he was a pretty pedestrian defender, and when the chips were down the Golden Grizzlies lost to Southern Utah in first round of the Summit League tournament. It's tough to rank Hamilton much lower than this, though, no matter how you value those things.

33. SG Bradley Beal, Florida, Fr. (Me: 33; CBS: 26)
I said pretty much everything I wanted to say about Beal in my recent article ranking the freshman seasons of the ESPNU Class of 2011 Top 100. He had an excellent season scoring the ball, and his defensive rebounding was secretly fantastic. Those are the key points.

32. PF Mike Moser, UNLV, So. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
So that one came out of nowhere, huh? Moser wandered onto the scene after his transfer from UCLA and wasted no time in his first season at his second college. He finished the year top-10 in defensive rebounding rate, and he shot 51/33/78 while using 25 percent of UNLV's possessions. Moser also caused a lot of problems for opponents as a defender. I'd like to see him get to the line more, and I'd like to see him reduce his turnovers. But he could repeat last year and I don't think anyone at UNLV could complain. Moser and Anthony Bennett aren't just excellent players, they'll be almost impossible to guard at the same time. Good luck, 2013 Mountain West.

31. PG Tim Frazier, Penn State, Jr. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
Kendall Marshall ranked third nationally in assist rate. Scott Machado ranked fourth. Technically first place went to Utah's Josh Watkins, but he was suspended for half the season. And in second was second-team All-Big Ten selection Tim Frazier, about whom I heard essentially nothing. In 2010-11, Frazier posted an offensive rating of 101 on 18 percent of possessions; in 2012, he recorded an OR of 104 on 33 percent of possessions. That is staggering. Penn State finished 12-20 and, considering the rest of their roster (Frazier led the team in efficiency! While using a third of their possessions! A third!), that is equally staggering. He even finished in the top 50 in steal rate. Frazier put up an extraordinary season. Hopefully this year someone will notice.

30. SG C.J. McCollum, Lehigh, Jr. (Me: 57; CBS: unranked)
I'm proud of this one. Only Reggie Hamilton used more possessions and was more efficient. McCollum's scoring is well-known, but he also led the Mountain Hawks in assist rate and was close in defensive rebounding percentage. I'm glad the Duke game put him on the map.

29. SF Jeffery Taylor, Vanderbilt, Sr. (Me: 19; CBS: 34)
Taylor turned the three-pointer from a tool into a weapon as a senior, and he is truly one of the most dangerous and versatile defenders around. When the Commodores knocked off Kentucky in the SEC tournament, I was fully on the bandwagon, thinking Kevin Stallings' team may have finally fulfilled the top-five potential they had with a healthy Festus Ezeli. It didn't happen, but Taylor's season was still awfully impressive.

28. PF Quincy Acy, Baylor, Sr. (Me: unranked; CBS: unranked)
Acy didn't get the most buzz on a talented Elite Eight squad, but I do think he was Baylor's most important player. He hit 58 percent of his twos and 78 percent of his very frequent free throws. Acy also rebounded well on both ends and made the Big 12's All-Defense team. He was extraordinarily consistent, posting ten points or more 28 times and seven rebounds or more 22 times. Acy was one of the more underrated players in the country last season.

27. SG J'Covan Brown, Texas, Jr. (Me: 61; CBS: 86)
Brown falls into the ever-confusing category of guys who seem to do a lot of stupid things but for whom things just seem to work out. It's tough to stomach some of the shots he attempts, but you look up at the end of the season and find he shot 45/36/86 -- it's hard to build up too much disdain. Brown had, comfortably, the second-highest assist rate among Longhorns behind Myck Kabongo, and his constantly-firing-up shots style has the added bonus of limiting turnovers. He doesn't play fundamental basketball, but he definitely helped Texas get to the NCAA tournament.

26. PG Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas, Sr. (Me: unranked; CBS: 76)
I thought I had Taylor pegged. He was a third-option type scorer, who could pass a little bit but had gigantic decision-making issues. Then last year of the sudden he was playing like a go-to scorer, the decision-making issues were at least mitigated, and he was making three-pointers on a regular basis. I got smoked on this one.

Coming soon: The countdown continues.

Drew Cannon is a regular contributor to Basketball Prospectus. Click here to see Drew's other articles. Follow him on Twitter at @DrewCannon1.

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Drew Cannon is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact Drew by clicking here or click here to see Drew's other articles.

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