Before you read these rankings, I’d like to clarify that my analysis focuses on more than just skill. These guys are, in my opinion, the top 10 players in college basketball–some have high draft stock, some don’t. Being a great college basketball player is different than being a great NBA player, which is proven year in and year out by the high percentage of busts within each draft class. While players’ statistics were important in my analysis, so too were leadership abilities, passion, and individual impact on their team’s success.
I would like the record to reflect that I am a student coach for a college basketball team and therefore qualified to write this piece. Further, my takes on college basketball represent the interests of Icy Schemes and its affiliated entities. So here you go.
- Trae Young, G, Oklahoma
This was, without question, the easiest choice in our top 10. Leading the country in both points and assists per game (29.9/9.4) while shooting 39.3% from three-point range, Trae Young has drawn Steph Curry comparisons from nearly all notable college basketball analysts. And like Steph, Young can create shots for himself from anywhere on the floor with hands in his face. Without Young, Oklahoma wouldn’t be in the top 25, much less have a shot at making a March Madness run.
- Marvin Bagley III, F, Duke
Leading the conference in points and rebounds per game (21.4/11.2), the Duke standout has already proven that he will win ACC Freshman of the Year. In addition to his impressive post game presence, his agility and perimeter shooting abilities allow him to play both the 3 and 4 spots for the Blue Devils, which is likely to translate well at the NBA level.
- DeAndre Ayton, F, Arizona
The consensus number one overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft has put up great numbers for the Arizona Wildcats thus far. The seven-footer moves up and down the floor with ease, can shoot from anywhere, and provides a strong defensive presence, adding two blocks and 11 rebounds to his 20 points per game. He’s third in my rankings solely because the sad-ass Pac-12 (which didn’t even make our conference rankings) is weaker than Marvin Bagley’s conference, though I think we’d all love to witness a Bagley- Ayton matchup in March.
- Miles Bridges, G, Michigan State
Undoubtedly the leader on a Michigan State basketball program in turmoil, Miles Bridges shocked the basketball world by returning to the Spartans for his sophomore year and thus far, has not disappointed. Bridges’ size has proven to be nearly unstoppable on the court, allowing him to average 17.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while shooting 37% from deep. I expect him to be a top-5 candidate for the Wooden Award.
- Jalen Brunson, G, Villanova
Villanova’s number one guy, Jalen Brunson, has become one of the most impressive point guards in the country. His scoring and playmaking abilities (19.4 ppg /5.0 apg), his 48.3% 3-point shooting percentage, and his 3.3 : 1 assist-to-turnover ratio will ensure his consideration for College Basketball Player of the Year. Further, I think his leadership qualities on the court can lead the Wildcats of ‘Nova to another national title.
- Grayson Allen, G, Duke
Yes, Grayson Allen is in our top 10, and for good reason. Although his numbers (14.5 ppg/ 4.4 apg) are not as strong as the players above, Allen’s aggressive demeanor and leadership abilities on the court make him a threat every single game. Allen’s name has been forgotten amidst Duke’s other talent, but he remains the one guy who can lead Duke to a deep tournament run. If I had one suggestion, it would be that he needs to become more of an asshole and embody the Duke stereotype like he did last year. They simply aren’t as fun to hate without the weekly Grayson Allen headlines.
- Jevon Carter, G, West Virginia
The senior has led the Press Virginia squad to some incredible wins this year, while leading his conference in steals (3.3 spg) and his team in points (16.6 ppg). What’s more, the defending NABC Defensive Player of the Year has a good shot at a repeat. Yes, West Virginia has struggled recently, but last night’s win at Oklahoma could prove to be a turning point for the Mountaineers. The problem is that Buckwild University (as we like to call them) under Huggins has only been to the Final Four once in his 11 years as head coach… could Carter make the difference?
- Devonte’ Graham,G, Kansas
Graham has delivered for Kansas this season, leading the team with 17.2 points and 7.5 assists per game. Graham’s ability to drive into the lane and finish is remarkable enough, but perhaps his most dangerous asset is his 41.9% shooting from 3-point range. If Graham continues at this rate, Kansas should be the Big 12 Regular Season Champions for the 14th straight year.
- Collin Sexton, G, Alabama
The man who shut down Trae Young in the Big 12/SEC Challenge is currently a frontrunner in the race for SEC Freshman of the Year. Though considered undersized by most NBA scouts, Sexton’s strength near the rim, athleticism, and aggression set him apart from the other top freshmen in the College Basketball landscape. Averaging 18.7 points and 3.4 assists per game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sexton as a top-10 NBA draft pick. And to be quite honest, Roll Tide University looks really damn good right now.
- Allonzo Trier, G, Arizona
In his third season for the Wildcats, Trier is making the game look easy. His length, determination, and scoring abilities make him nearly impossible to guard. Leading the team in points (19.9) and shooting (54.4% from the field and 41.4% from downtown), Trier’s draft stock is easing its way into the first round. Trier and DeAndre Ayton could lead Arizona to a deep run into the tournament this year. But Arizona’s post-season play has proven to be nothing short of a choke-job in the last 20 years, so I kinda doubt it.