Position Rankings: The Top 20 Power Forwards

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

The Top 10

1. Doug McDermott, Creighton: As a freshman, McDermott was one of the nation’s best-kept secrets. As a sophomore, he was the guy you had to see play. As a junior? He’s a first-team all-american, one of the nation’s most efficient players, and the engine that makes the Creighton offense go.

2. Tony Mitchell, North Texas: Mitchell was a top 20 recruit coming out of high school, but due to some academic issues, it took until the middle of his second year as a collegian to suit up. As a sophomore this season, expect Mitchell to put up some enormous numbers for the Mean Green this year.

3. Mike Moser, UNLV: Moser is one of the most interesting players on this list. His skill-set screams ‘collegiate stretch-four’, but his size and length make him more likely to be a three at the next level. With Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch joining the Rebels this season, Moser may have to spend more time at the three this season.

4. James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina: McAdoo was a top ten recruit in the Class of 2011, but when you’re forced to share a front court with Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes, there really aren’t many minutes — or shots — available. That will change this season, and expect McAdoo to thrive in their absence.

5. Andre Roberson, Colorado: Roberson is a guy that NBA scouts love because of his length, his athleticism and his willingness to do things other than score the ball (11.1 boards, 1.9 blocks, 1.3 steals). With Colorado needing him in a more expanded role offensively this season, if Roberson has worked on being a more well-rounded threat at that end, don’t be shocked to see Roberson compete for the Pac-12 Player of the Year award.

6. CJ Leslie, NC State: Leslie has a chance to become an all-american this season. He’s certainly got the talent, but the question is whether or not he’s got the mentality for it. He’ll be benefited by Lorenzo Brown aiding in a leadership role, but if NC State is going to be a national title contender, Leslie will need to make a push for being higher on this list.

7. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: I think Stokes is going to have a huge season. He averaged 9.6 points and 7.4 boards for the Vols last year despite enrolling midway through the season when he was supposed to be a high school senior. Imagine what he’ll do with a full preseason?

8. Elias Harris, Gonzaga: Harris has never quite lived up to those lofty expectations he had after his sensational freshman year, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t evolved into an excellent college power forward. Some of his explosiveness is gone, but he’s become a better defender and rebounder and a much more valuable piece for a very good Gonzaga team.

9. Isaiah Austin, Baylor: Austin may be the single-most difficult player to label a position for in the country. He’s 7-foot-1, which, naturally, would mean he gets slotted as a center. But his game is more suited to being a small forward. So what do you do with a guy built in the mold of Dirk Nowitzki? Slot the sharp-shooter as a power forward.

10. Christian Watford, Indiana: On his own, Watford is probably not a better basketball player than a number of the players behind him on this list, but we decided to slot Watford this high simply because of how perfectly he fits on the Hoosier roster. Watford’s a terrific three-point shooter, which means that Indiana is able to surround Cody Zeller with four guys that cannot be left open from three. Watford is a vital piece to that puzzle.

The Next 10

11. Aaric Murray, West Virginia
12. Anthony Bennett, UNLV
13. Chane Behanan, Louisville
14. Jeronne Maymon, Tennessee
15. Brock Motum, Washington State
16. Laurence Bowers, Missouri
17. Keith Clanton, Central Florida
18. Dennis Tinnon, Marshall
19. Grant Jerrett, Arizona
20. Kenny Kadji, Miami

The Best of the Rest: CJ Aiken (St. Joseph’s), O.D. Anosike (Siena), Brandon Ashley (Arizona), Tarik Black (Memphis), Jackie Carmichael (Illinois State), Will Clyburn (Iowa State), Jake Cohen (Davidson), Robert Covington (Tennessee State), Ed Daniels (Murray State), Perry Ellis (Kansas), Ricardo Gathers (Baylor), Murphy Holloway (Ole Miss), Ian Hummer (Princeton), Javon McCrea (Buffalo), Erik Murphy (Florida), Romero Osby (Oklahoma), Marshawn Powell (Arkansas), Juvonte Reddic (VCU), Keith Rendleman (UNC-Wilmington), Kyle Wiltjer (Kentucky)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Donald Trump’s response to LaVar Ball: ‘I should’ve left them in jail!’

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I told you this was going to happen.

After LaVar Ball downplayed Donald Trump’s role in bringing home his son, LiAngelo, and the three other UCLA players that were arrested for shoplifting in China last week, Trump responded by taking to twitter and saying that he should have left American citizens in prison in a non-democratic, authoritarian country because they will not personally acknowledge his efforts enough:

Sigh.

Now we await LaVar’s response.

Five-star 2018 recruit Anfernee Simons could test NBA Draft process

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Five-star Class of 2018 guard Anfernee Simons is interested in potentially entering the 2018 NBA Draft.

According to a report from Jonathan Givony of ESPN, the former Louisville commit will likely be eligible to jump to the NBA straight out of high school since he graduated high school last year while turning 19 next June. The 6-foot-4 Simons, considered the No. 16 overall prospect in the Rivals’ Class of 2018 national rankings, is playing a post-grad season at IMG Academy for 2017-18 after reclassifying as a sophomore.

If Simons opts to go pro than college basketball loses a potential star as he’s been shooting up the national rankings over the past year. Simons was committed to the Cardinals since the beginning of his junior year but he opened things up once former head coach Rick Pitino lost his job in a fallout from the FBI investigation on college basketball.

Simons started his season at the National Prep Showcase this weekend as six NBA teams sent people to watch him play, according to Givony’s report.

It’ll be fascinating to see what happens in this situation as Simons hasn’t done much with the recruiting process over the last several months. Now that NBA teams are already watching him play, Simons could follow in Thon Maker’s footsteps and turn pro right away.

LaVar Ball on Trump’s involvement in bringing son home: ‘Who?’

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The war of words none of us wanted is now upon us.

LaVar Ball downplayed the impact that Donald Trump had in ensuring that his son, LiAngelo, along with two other UCLA players were released from custody and returned to the United States following a shoplifting incident on the team’s trip to China.

“Who?” the eldest Ball told ESPN on Friday night when asked about Trump’s involvement. “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing. Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

When the players arrived back in Los Angeles, and before they had a chance to speak publicly, Trump had already taken to twitter to complain about the fact that the trio had not yet thanked him. Trump happened to be in China at the same time and, in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he reportedly asked for his counterpart’s help in assuring an expedited legal process.

Trump got the thank you that he so desperately needed when UCLA held a press conference announcing that the three players would be suspended indefinitely, but LaVar was not going to let the President have the last word. And you can bet that Trump is not going to let this be the end of it, either, which means that two men that have risen to prominence through their willingness to say the audacious whenever the spotlight is on them will have the floor.

And unless someone has managed to change the passcode on Trump’s cellphone, you can rest assured that this will not be the end of it.

Bridges perfect from 3, No. 5 Villanova blows out Lafayette

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ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Mikal Bridges set a school record by hitting all six of his 3-point shots and scored a career-high 24 points in No. 5 Villanova’s 104-57 rout of Lafayette on Friday night.

Jalen Brunson added 22 points and hit 4 of 6 3s in another dominant performance by the Wildcats (3-0), who made 16 of 30 from long range.

Three nights after setting a school record with 13 blocked shots in a blowout of Nicholls, the versatile and deep Wildcats showed another strength and overwhelmed the Leopards (0-3).

Led by Bridges’ 4 of 4 long-distance shooting, Villanova hit 11 of its first 14 3s in racing to a 39-16 lead. The Wildcats had a stretch of nine straight baskets being 3s en route to a 56-23 halftime lead.

Matt Klinewski had 16 points and six rebounds for Lafayette, which was 7 of 29 from 3-point range.

Bridges finished 9 of 10 from the field before he sat out the final 10 minutes. The junior bested his previous career-high by one point set Tuesday.

While it was a Villanova home game, it was played about 50 miles from campus at the PPL Center, home of minor league hockey’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. It was a 20-mile drive for Lafayette, but the Wildcats sure seemed at home.

Villanova spent much of the second half going inside to score. Omari Spellman had 15 points and nine rebounds and Eric Paschall had 14 points and eight boards.

BIG PICTURE

Lafayette: Try as a Patriot League school squaring off against one of the best teams in the nation and watching the opponent shoot like that, Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s alma mater never had a chance.

Villanova: The Wildcats have perimeter shooting, depth inside and play good defense. They’ve been dominant against inferior competition, and will finally get tested next week.

SO MANY 3-POINTERS

Bridges surpassed Doug West in 1988 and John Celestand in 1999, each of whom went 5 of 5 from long range. Villanova finished one shy of the school record of 17 3s set against Lehigh on Nov. 27, 2005.

NO LUCK

Lafayette coach Fran O’Hanlon fell to 0-6 against his alma mater. O’Hanlon still holds the Villanova record for assists in a game with 16 set against Toledo on Feb. 24, 1970.

Only six Division I coaches have been at their schools longer than O’Hanlon, in his 23rd season.

UP NEXT

Lafayette visits Princeton on Wednesday.

Villanova faces Western Kentucky on Wednesday in the first of three games at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. No. 19 Purdue and No. 3 Arizona are possible opponents the following two days.

Mykhailiuk helps No. 4 Kansas rout South Dakota State, 98-64

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Svi Mykhailiuk scored a career-high 27 points, Lagerald Vick finished with 22 and fourth-ranked Kansas routed Summit League favorite South Dakota State 98-64 on Friday night.

Udoka Azubuike added 17 points and Malik Newman had 13 for the Jayhawks (3-0), who shot 60 percent from the field and didn’t commit a turnover until midway through the second half.

By that point, the Jackrabbits (3-1) were staring at a 30-point deficit.

Mike Daum led South Dakota State with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Tevin King contributed 12 points and David Jenkins Jr. scored 10 off the bench.

Once again without heralded freshman Billy Preston, the Jayhawks were forced to use the same reduced rotation that managed to top seventh-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday night. But their perilous lack of depth became crippling in the first half when Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot picked up two fouls each.

That forced coach Bill Self to use walk-on Clay Young in the post.

The 6-foot-5 senior turned out to be a bright spot, too, keeping the ball moving on offense and handling the 6-9 Daum inside. The Jackrabbits’ leading scorer at more than 21 points per game had eight on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half, when Young spent a good chunk of time covering him.

Nobody could cover Mykhailiuk, though.

The senior from the Ukraine hit his first three shots — the Jayhawks made eight of their first nine — while getting into an easy rhythm. Even on the seemingly rare occasion that his jumper didn’t splash the net, it often rattled around the rim and dropped through to a thunderous ovation.

Several of his baskets came on feeds from Devonte Graham, who didn’t hit a field goal until deep in the second half. He finished with eight points but also had 11 assists and five boards.

PRESTON SITS

Preston went through early warmups but remained on the bench as Kansas investigates an on-campus incident that raised questions about the “financial picture” of the car he was driving. Self declined to discuss the situation other than to say “we’re definitely going to hold him out until we get to the bottom of this.” Self did say he expects a resolution soon.

BIG PICTURE

South Dakota State can recover from its thumping in paradise with a trip to the Cayman Islands Classic up next. But their next trip to the Sunflower State figures to be just as tough: They visit No. 6 Wichita State on Dec. 5.

Kansas cruised despite a shortened lineup again, and help is only a month away. Arizona State transfer Sam Cunliffe becomes eligible for a trip to Nebraska on Dec. 16, and there is a chance five-star prospect Silvio De Sousa from Florida’s IMG Academy enrolls at the semester break.

UP NEXT

South Dakota State plays Wyoming on Monday in George Town, Cayman Islands.

Kansas continues a four-game home stand against Texas Southern on Tuesday night.