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.
NBCSPORTS.COM PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, So.
Smart shocked the college hoops world when he announced back in the spring that he would be returning to school for his sophomore season. It was great news for the Pokes, however, as they now have a chance to win the Big 12. Hopefully, Smart spent the offseason making his jumpshot more consistent, because that’s the only thing that he does not excel at on a basketball court. He’s tied with Aaron Craft atop the intangibles leaderboard.
Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, Fr.: There’s an argument to be made that Wiggins will enter the season with more hype surrounding him than any freshman in the history of college basketball. How about this for expectations: if he averages 18 points and 8 boards, it will be seen as a disappointing season. Yeesh. Wiggins is an absurdly athletic, 6-foot-8 wing with the physical tools to one day be some combination of Scottie Pippen and Tracy McGrady. But is he ready to reach that level right now?
Russ Smith, Louisville, Sr.: Smith may not be much of an NBA prospect, but he’s the perfect player for Rick Pitino. A ballhawk defensively, Smith proved himself capable of being an efficient scorer last season, even winning KenPom.com’s Efficiency Player of the Year award a season ago. It will be interesting to see if the 5-foot-11 Smith plays more point this season in an effort to audition to NBA teams.
Julius Randle, Kentucky, Fr.: Randle is a beast. Plain and simple. The 6-foot-9 lefty is going to score a lot of points and grab a lot of rebounds simply because he’s bigger, stronger, more athletic and more aggressive than so many of his collegiate counterparts. It doesn’t matter that he’s only a freshman. Ironically enough, the only thing that could really end up holding Randle back is the fact that John Calipari is going to experiment with playing him on the perimeter.
Doug McDermott, Creighton, Sr.: Ho-hum, just a third straight season where Doug McDermott will end up being an All-American, which is incredible considering the kid went to Creighton over Northern Iowa and even his own father didn’t think he was good enough to get a scholarship when he was at Iowa State. McDermott is the best scorer in the country, and he’ll have a chance to prove it as the Bluejays make their way into the Big East this season.
Jahii Carson, Arizona State, So.: The most electric talent this side of Andre Wiggins is must-see TV whenever he steps onto the court.
Gary Harris, Michigan State, So.: We’re going to get a chance to see just how good Harris can be now that his shoulder is healthy.
Jabari Parker, Duke, Fr.: Parker is arguably the most skilled player in the country and will be the star of the ACC favorite Blue Devils.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse, Sr.: Fair has spent three years as one of the most underrated and consistent players in the Big East. Let’s see if that translates to the ACC.
Mitch McGary, Michigan, So.: He’s massive, he plays hard, he attacks the glass and he’s got a lot more skill to his game than he’s had a chance to show thus far.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State, Sr.: Craft is the best on-ball defender in the country. He’s also a leader and a winner, two skills you cannot teach. Can he score more this season?
Shabazz Napier, UConn, Sr.: Like Fair, Napier has had a terrific career at UConn that’s been somewhat overshadowed thanks to Kemba Walker and UConn’s APR.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, Jr.: The 6-foot-6 point guard is going to have a chance to show what he can do to a national audience in the resurgent Pac-12.
Adreian Payne, Michigan State, Sr.: Consistency is the key for Payne, who is a lottery pick if he can ever figure out how to bring it on a nightly basis.
Aaron Gordon, Arizona, Fr.: The nation’s best dunker will be a star if he accepts that he’s a prototype stretch four at the college level.
- Isaiah Austin, Baylor, So.
- Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, Sr.
- Semaj Christon, Xavier, So.
- Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, Sr.
- Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, So.
- Tyler Haws, BYU, Jr.
- Rodney Hood, Duke, So.
- Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga, Jr.
- Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, So.
- James Young, Kentucky, Fr.