Now that the Super Bowl is in the past and football is in our rearview mirrors, let’s get you caught up to speed on the college basketball season.
Here are the ten players that you’ll want to make sure you watch when they’re on TV:
1. D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State: Over the course of the last month, Russell has played his way from being a somewhat-overlooked freshman into a potential top five, a first-team all-american and a kid with a fighting chance at upending Jahlil Okafor’s National Player of the Year campaign. Russell is a combo-guard that shoots 45.4 percent from three, averages just a shade under 20 points and probably has the best vision of any player in college basketball.
Just watch this highlight package and tell me you’re not entertained:
While I’m here, I’d be remiss not to mention Russell’s running mate, Sam Thompson. Nicknamed ‘Slam I Am’, Thompson is a freakishly athletic 6-foot-8 wing that is good for at least one ridiculous dunk a night.
2. Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon, Indiana: The Hoosiers have no size inside, meaning that in order for them to win they have to spread the floor and allow their guards to make plays off the dribble. Ferrell and Blackmon are the two most talented perimeter players on the roster.
3. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: Okafor is the most dominant low-post player that we’ve seen come through the college ranks in a long time. His footwork, his post moves, his passing ability, the way he reads double-teams. He’s a throwback, and while the things he does don’t involve high-flying acrobatics or ankle-breaking crossovers, even the most surly basketball fans will be able to appreciate big men with moves like this:
Should I mention that he’s destined to be the No. 1 pick in the draft and a franchise-changing center?
4. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Grant is unbelievably productive and such a vital cog in Notre Dame’s offensive attack, which is one of the most efficient in the country. He make big plays and big shots in close games, as he is the ‘closer’ that Notre Dame desperately missed last season. Oh, and have you seen what he did against Georgia Tech?:
5. Kris Dunn, Providence: If you’re not a fan of the Big East, you may not know the name Kris Dunn, but he’s been as productive as any point guard in the country over the last month. He had a triple-double — 27 points, 13 boards, 11 assists — in a win over DePaul.
6. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga: Pangos has taken over more of a point guard role this season, allowing his talented front court to do the heavy lifting this season, but Pangos still has the ability to ratchet things up from deep. When he gets on a roll, he can reel off four or five threes in a row.
7. Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming: The son of a dunk champion, it should come as no surprise that Nance is a high-flier. But he’s more than just the dunks, as he has three-point range and is one of the best defensive power forwards in the country. He’s one of the biggest reasons that Wyoming is calling themselves the new Dunk City.
8. Michael Qualls, Arkansas: Qualls is the best dunker in the country and plays in a system at Arkansas where his team presses for 40 minutes and gives him ample opportunity to get out in transition and showcase his athleticism.
9. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin: Kaminsky is a seven-foot center with the perimeter skills of a point guard. He can hit threes, he can beat you off the dribble and he’s an excellent passer. If you try to put a smaller defender on him, he can overpower them in the post.
10. Keifer Sykes, Green Bay: The lone mid-major player on this list, Sykes is as entertaining as anyone. He’s a dynamic, 5-foot-10 point guard that can go for 30 on any given night and has the hops to do this: