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College Basketball Player of the Year Power Rankings



1. Doug McDermott, Creighton: What else can be said about McDermott’s season — and his career — at this point? He had 26 points on 11-for-19 shooting in a win at Butler in which he just so happened to hit the game-winning three with 47.8 seconds left. He followed that up by scoring 39 points on 13-for-17 shooting from the floor in another blowout win over No. 6 Villanova. Here’s what Jay Wright had to say about him after the game:

“I think I have a unique perspective in that I was with the USA team last summer when he played with the developmental team against the pros, and he played very well. Sometimes you watch a guy in college and you think about how that’s going to transfer to the NBA. But I saw it, and everything he does here in college he did this summer with those guys. I think he’s as complete a player with size as I’ve ever seen. 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9, there’s nothing he can’t do. He can take you off the dribble, he guards, he’s tough as hell, he defends, he rebounds, he moves without the ball, he seals. He’s the best post player that we’ve played against and he’s the best perimeter player, and he may be one of the best passers. And he’s 6-foot-9. He’s as good of a basketball player as I’ve seen.”

McDermott set a Big East record by earning Player of the Week honors for the seventh time this season. According to Rob Anderson, Creighton’s SID, McDermott has now won Player of the Week or Newcomer of the Week in 27 of the 63 weeks he’s played college basketball.

2. Jabari Parker, Duke: Parker was making up a bit of ground on McDermott before that 39-point outburst, as the freshman’s slump is nothing but a distant memory. We’ve been over this: when Parker is attacking the basket instead of settling for jumpers, he’s as dangerous as any scorer in the country. During this eight-game resurgence, he’s taken 75 free throws and just 21 three-pointers. In the five games before that, his slump, he took 21 threes and just 14 free throws.

Here’s Exhibit A of what I mean: instead of settling for a jumper, Parker went to the rim and managed to land himself the game-winning dunk against Maryland:

3. Shabazz Napier, UConn: Ho-hum, just another 34-point, five-rebound, four-assist performance from Napier in an overtime win over Memphis. He’s been so good this season that numbers like that are hardly even surprising anymore.

4. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: Luke Winn came up with the nickname “Ennions” for Ennis, a play on Bill Raftery’s favorite saying. Personally, I like Captain Clutch. Syracuse is still undefeated after a pair of last-second wins, and Ennis had a major hand in both of them. He hit the running 35-footer to give the Orange the win at Pitt on Wednesday and had the game-winning assist to C.J. Fair on Saturday to beat N.C. State.

On the season, in final five minutes and overtime of one-possession games, Ennis is now 8-for-10 from the floor and 14-for-14 from the line with seven assists and just a single turnover.

5. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati: Kilpatrick played one game last week, scoring 28 points and handing out six assists in a win over Houston. The Bearcats are built entirely around their defense. Kilpatrick is, for the most part, the only guy on the roster that can score. Let’s put it into context: Cincinnati is 108th in the country in offensive efficiency, while Kilpatrick is third in the nation in offensive efficiency for players that use more than 28% of their team’s possessions. In other words, Kilpatrick is putting up McDermott-esque numbers in an offense that’s no where near as good.

6. Russ Smith, Louisville: Smith has been better this season than he was last season. The problem? Louisville only has two notable wins this season: SMU and at UConn. In their last five games, however, the Cards play at Cincinnati, at Memphis, at SMU and at home against UConn. Big performances in those games will get Smith more attention nationally.

7. Nick Johnson, Arizona: Johnson was terrific earlier this season, but with Brandon Ashley, more offensive responsibility has fallen into Johnson’s lap. In the four games since Ashley went out, Johnson is averaging 11.5 points while shooting 25.0% (15-60) from the floor and 1-for-18 from three, or 5.6%. That’s … not good.

8. Xavier Thames, San Diego State: Thames is in the same boat as Kilpatrick, a talented scorer on a team that doesn’t have many of them. In two games last week, Thames was 6-for-26 from the floor and 2-for-13 from three. SDSU lost at Wyoming and struggled against Air Force.

9. Kyle Anderson, UCLA: The Bruins swept Utah and Colorado this week while Slo-Mo averaged 19.0 points, 8.5 assists and 8.0 boards. He’s averaging 15.4 points, 8.7 boards and 6.8 assists on the season.

10. Jabari Brown, Missouri: Brown needs some love. His numbers this season are ridiculous: 20.5 points, 4.6 boards, 45.7% 3PT, 126.4 oRTG. In SEC play, they get even better: 22.8 points and 50.0% 3PT.

Others: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Cameron Bairstow, Bryce Cotton, Sam Dekker, Cleanthony Early, Joel Embiid, C.J. Fair, Marcus Foster, Aaron Gordon, Gary Harris, Rodney Hood, Deandre Kane, Kevin Pangos, Lamar Patterson, Adreian Payne, Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Juwan Staten, Nik Stauskas, Fred Van Vleet, T.J. Warren, Andrew Wiggins, Scottie Wilbekin, Chaz Williams

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.