College Basketball Talk’s Player of the Year Power Rankings

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The 2013-2014 season is sure to be a thrilling Player of the Year race, so to keep track of it, we will be posting weekly Player of the Year Power Rankings for your reading goodness.

Who’d we miss? Who’s ranked too high? We love to overlook your team’s best player and overrate your rival’s superstar.

1. Jabari Parker, Duke: You hear all the time about how Jabari Parker is one of the most well-rounded offensive weapons we’ve seen at the college level in a long time. He scores in the post, he spreads the floor with his ability to shoot, he’ll take people off the dribble, he’ll go coast-to-coast off of a defensive rebound.

To get an idea for just how effective Parker is offensively, here are Synergy’s points-per-possession numbers for post-up, catch-and-shoot, transition and isolation situations:

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How do you stop someone that can do that?

2. Shabazz Napier, UConn: For the first time in what feels like Napier’s career, he struggled in the final minutes as UConn lost at home to Stanford, 53-51. Napier was 0-for-5 from three in the second half, missed a pull-up jumper that would have tied the game with 30 seconds left and gave the ball up to Omar Calhoun on the game’s final possession. That’s enough to get him dropped out of the Player of the Year top spot. Harsh, I know. He did bounce back with 20 points in a win at Washington on Sunday.

3. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Smart continued his terrific season on Saturday, bouncing back from an off-night against Delaware State to go for 18 points and three assists in a win over Colorado out in Vegas. Smart has improved his shot selection a bit this season, but he’s still a long way from being a consistent perimeter jump-shooter. According to Synergy, he’s shooting 28.1% from the floor on jump shots.

4. Doug McDermott, Creighton: Comparing him to Jabari Parker, here are those same numbers for Dougie McBuckets:

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5. Julius Randle, Kentucky: Coming off of a loss at North Carolina where Randle finished with just nine shots while only getting to the line six times, the Wildcats got back to their bread-and-butter, pounding the ball into the paint to Randle. He finished with 29 points and 10 boards in the come-from-behind win over Belmont.

6. Chaz Williams, UMass: Williams had his worst game of the season in a loss to Florida State on Saturday, finishing with 10 points and three assists while committing four turnovers and shooting 4-for-14 from the floor and missing all four of his threes.

7. Russ Smith, Louisville: It may be hard to believe, I know, but according to KenPom, Louisville is the nation’s most efficient offensive team. Smith is a huge part of that, as he’s become an even more efficient scorer than he was last season as KenPom’s Player of the Year.

8. Casey Prather, Florida: Prather’s breakout senior season has been the result the fact that he is now embracing his ability as a slasher. Of the 117 field goals that Prather has taken through 11 games, only three have come from beyond the arc. Only six other field goal attempts have been jump shots, according to Synergy’s logs. He’s thriving as a guy that attacks the rim, in both half court sets and transition.

9. Nick Johnson, Arizona: The versatility of Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is what makes Arizona a national title contender, but Johnson is still their most important player. A lockdown defender, his value only skyrockets with Gabe York’s inability to make anything over the course of the last month.

10. Keith Appling, Michigan State: Appling did not play his best game in Michigan State’s win over Texas, and while he’s been Michigan State’s best player for much of the early part of the season, Adreian Payne is making a push as the Spartan’s most valuable player.

Others: Jordan Adams, Kyle Anderson, Ron Baker, Cameron Bairstow, Jahii Carson, Jordan Clarkson, Aaron Craft, Joel Embiid, Tyler Ennis, Aaron Gordon, Rodney Hood, Roberto Nelson, Marcus Paige, Lamar Patterson, Elfrid Payton, T.J. Warren, Andrew Wiggins, Joseph Young

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

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Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

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Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

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With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.