College Basketball’s Top 15 Perimeter Attacks For 2013-2014

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

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

Ranking back courts against front courts is a tough thing to do because, technically speaking, a small forward is a front court player. That’s why we changed our list to top perimeter attacks; if a player will predominantly spend his time playing on the wing, we label it as such. That’s why you’ll see guys like Andrew Wiggins and Rodney Hood on this list.

Enough blabbering. Here are our top 15 perimeter attacks:

1. Louisville: It’s hard to believe this, but despite losing Peyton Siva from last year’s title-winning team, Louisville’s back court may actually be better this season than it was a year ago. They return an all-american in Russ Smith while bringing in the top JuCo recruit in the country in Chris Jones, who will take over at the point. Toss in Terry Rozier, who spent last season at Hargrave Military academy, and Rick Pitino will have plenty of talented guards on his roster. Now remember that last season’s tournament hero, Luke Hancock, will finally be healthy and may not even be the best wing on the roster with Wayne Blackshear back.

2. Memphis: Expect to see Memphis play with a four-guard lineup quite a bit this season. Why? Because their four guards might be the four best players on the roster, and they’re all seniors: Joe Jackson, Michael Dixon, Geron Johnson and Chris Crawford. If Crawford can do what Kim English did for Missouri in 2011-2012, playing the four and holding his own in the paint, the Tigers will be dangerous. They also have a couple of talented freshmen — Nick King, Kuran Iverson, Markel Crawford — that will see some action as well.

3. Oklahoma State: Travis Ford caught a break when Marcus Smart announced that he would be returning to school for his sophomore season despite being projected as a top five pick in the NBA Draft. Smart will be the best guard in the country this year. He’s joined on the perimeter by the severely underrated Markel Brown. Brian Williams will be healthy this season as well, and Phil Forte and Stevie Clark should provide quite a bit of scoring pop off the bench.

4. Duke: For the purposes of this list, we considered Jabari Parker to be a front court player and Rodney Hood to be a perimeter player, which is why the Blue Devils are “so low”. Hood has a chance to be a star, as does Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke’s sophomore shooting guard. Add in Quinn Cook, Matt Jones and Andre Dawkins, and the Blue Devils have plenty of talented perimeter depth. If you consider Parker a perimeter player, Duke might be No. 1.

source:
AP photo

5. UConn: The Huskies are going to have a tough time competing with Memphis and Louisville for the AAC crown. Because while Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, Omar Calhoun, Deandre Daniels and Lasan Kromah make up the fifth best perimeter attack in the country, it’s only the third best perimeter attack in the league, and UConn’s front court leaves much to be desired.

6. Kentucky: From a talent perspective, there may not be a better group of perimeter players than Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and James Young. The problem? Kentucky has no perimeter depth — Alex Poythress is not a wing and Jarrod Polson is lovable but not a part of this conversation — and there are question marks about the chemistry between those three.

7. Notre Dame: I’ll be honest: I think that we’re underrating the Irish by having them seventh. Jerian Grant and Eric Atkins are arguably the best lead guard duo in the country, and they’ll be flanked by Pat Connaughton, Demetrius Jackson and Cameron Biedscheid. That’s quite a bit of talent.

8. Kansas: We all know about Andrew Wiggins, and we all know about Wayne Selden. They’re both lottery picks. Where the question mark lies is at the point guard spot. Will Naadir Tharpe step up and be the player everyone thought he could be coming out of high school? Will Frank Mason or Connor Frankamp take that spot over from him? Full disclosure: We voted on these lists and I had Kansas at No. 1.

9. Michigan State: This ranking — and the Spartans’ season, really — hinges on the play of Keith Appling at the point guard spot. Gary Harris has the chance to be an all-american and Denzel Valentine and Branden Dawson are both talented and versatile enough to allow Tom Izzo to give opponents multiple different looks. But if Appling doesn’t fulfill the point guard role he’s been trying to learn for a couple years, Michigan State’s upside is limited.

10. Gonzaga: With Kelly Olynyk dominating the headlines last season, people started to forget about just how good the back court of Gary Bell Jr. and Kevin Pangos is. Throw in Louisville transfer Angel Nunez (eligible in December), Providence transfer Gerard Coleman, and David Stockton, and Mark Few will have some depth at his disposal as well.

11. Ohio State: Aaron Craft is the name you know, but LaQuinton Ross may be the name you’ll learn this year.

12. Michigan: Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III are stars, and Caris LaVert should shine with more minutes. But can Derrick Walton and Spike Albrecht replace Trey Burke?

13. Colorado: Spencer Dinwiddie is underrated. Expect a big year from Xavier Johnson.

14. Boise State: Not well known, but Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks are one of the best back courts out west, and they’re far from alone.

15. Harvard: Deep and loaded with talent that shouldn’t be in the Ivy. Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders are the stars, but that’s just the top layer.

Jordan Mathews three sends No. 1 seed Gonzaga past No. 4 West Virginia

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Jordan Mathews hit a three with less than a minute left and West Virginia missed a pair of threes on the final possession of the game as No. 1 seed Gonzaga won a dogfight, 61-58, over No. 4 seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.

Mathews, who finished with 13 points on the night, spent 4:30 on the bench before checking into the game right before hitting the eventual game-winning three.

No. 3 Oregon advances after thriller with No. 7 Michigan

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Oregon is returning to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season following a thrilling, 69-68, victory over No. 7 Michigan in the Sweet 16 in Kansas City on Thursday night.

In a game in which neither team could fully grasp control of the game, it came down to the wire. Michigan held a 3-point lead with two minutes to play. Jordan Bell, who was unquestionably the deciding factor in this contest, came up with the first of several critical hustle plays down the stretch. He knifed in on a missed free throw, for lay-in, cutting the deficit to one.

On the ensuing Michigan possession, Bell didn’t block it but affected Derrick Walton Jr.’s shot enough to force the miss. Tyler Dorsey, the other hero for the Ducks, continued his stellar play this month with a go-ahead layup after he spun through the Wolverine defense. Bell’s close out on D.J. Wilson sent his 3-point attempt way off the mark. Bell would corral another offensive rebound on the other end of the floor, and while Dylan Ennis left the door open for Michigan following another missed free throw, Bell, deservedly, rebounded Walton’s miss as time ran out.

“Do whatever you can to win,” Bell told reporters after the game. “Me, get every rebound, offense or defense, help my team out as much as possible.”

Bell had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Tyler Dorsey poured in 20 points. Walton Jr., who front-rimmed a potential game-winner at the buzzer, ended his collegiate career with stat-line of 20 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Zak Irvin added 19.

Dillon Brooks is definitely the star, but Bell and Dorsey could round out a big three that could lead the Ducks to Phoenix.

Before the start of the Pac-12 Tournament championship game on March 11, Oregon announced that Chris Boucher would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. How would this effect Oregon’s defense days before it began its quest for a Final Four?

Bell has helped answer those questions on Thursday night. He’s a big reason why Oregon outscored Michigan, 34-16, in points in the paint. But his greatest impact was how he slowed down the two-headed monster of Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson, two forwards whose increased production is a big reason why Michigan’s unlikely run extended into the second weekend of the tournament. The duo scored a combined 19 points off 7-of-20 shooting.

The other for Oregon was the continued offensive tear of Dorsey. In six postseason games, the sophomore two-guard is averaging 23.0 points per game. Playing at this level, Oregon has another go-to scorer, one who has no issue taking a big shot late in the game. In either matchup in the next round, that should come in handy. Dillon Brooks, one of college’s toughest matchups, will either be busy with Purdue’s massive frontline or locked in an all-out war with Kansas’ Josh Jackson the perimeter.

“I’m really fortunate to have Jordan for three years and Tyler for two and Dillon Brooks,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve just been really fortunate. We’ve got good players and guys that are unselfish. They want to win. They’re competitive. We got down four there and guys could have gave into it. They didn’t. They fought their way back. Shows you what kind of competitive spirit they’ve got.”

The Ducks, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, will face the winner of top-seeded Kansas and No. 4 Purdue on Saturday night at the Sprint Center.

“We know Purdue is really big and Kansas is Kansas,” Altman said.

WATCH: Steve Alford end practice with half-court shot

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford ended practice on Thursday by drilling a half-court shot on the first attempt.

According to the Associated Press, this has been a season-long battle between the UCLA coaching staff and the players.

“Truth be told, we’ve been getting slaughtered. We’ve got guys like Lonzo (Ball) literally takes a jump shot from the timeline. We were just lucky that they only got one shot at it. I think coaches are down about eight on the half-court shots this year. I told them, though, that the coaches are ahead at the Sweet 16. I don’t think they’re buying it.”

No. 3 seed UCLA is set to play No. 2 seed Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night in Memphis. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats, 97-92, in a non-conference matchup on Dec. 3.

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes to enter NBA draft

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State point guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes is entering the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-4 junior made his announcement on Instagram on Thursday and also informed the school of his decision. He did not say whether he intends to hire an agent, a move that prevent him from returning to school.

Rathan-Mayes averaged 10.6 points per game this season and averaged 4.8 assists, which was sixth in the conference. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.6-to-1 was third in the ACC.

The All-ACC defensive team selection helped Florida State (26-9) reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. The Seminoles advanced to the second round before a 91-66 loss to Xavier.

Rathan-Mayes averaged 12.4 points in his three seasons with the Seminoles and is the 46th player in school history to reach 1,000 points.

More AP college basketball at http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Rutgers guard Corey Sanders to enter NBA Draft

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Rutgers sophomore guard Corey Sanders is entering the NBA draft.

In making the announcement Thursday, the university said Sanders will not sign with an agent.

Sanders will be able to attend workouts scheduled by NBA teams and will be eligible for invitation to the league’s combine next month. Players have until 10 days after the combine to remain in the draft or return to school, as long as they don’t sign with an agent.

Sanders started 31 of 33 games this season, averaging 12.8 points and 3.2 rebounds.

Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said Sanders needs to make an informed decision on his future.

“My dream has always been to play in the NBA,” Sanders said. “I look forward to determining where I am in that journey.”

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.