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College Basketball’s Best Lead Guards

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For the first time in what feels like ages, the point guard position in college basketball is not going to be dominated by freshmen.

There is a clear-cut top three at the position, and all three are upperclassmen. Of the top ten, just two are freshmen. Only one other is a sophomore, and he redshirted a season with a foot injury. 

This may take away from some of the intrigue in the sport this season – who didn’t love watching Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox play? – but it should mean that some of the best teams in the country are primed to start well. 

Before we dive into the top 20 lead-guards in college basketball, a quick disclaimer: We used four positions to rank players – lead guards, off guards, wings and big men. If your favorite player isn’t on this list, he’s probably slotted in a different position.

RELATED: Top 100 Players | Top Backcourts | Top Frontcourts | Top Lead Guards
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1. Jalen Brunson, Villanova

Only a junior and already with a national championship to his credit, this will be the first time that Brunson is a major focal point in the Villanova offense. While last season saw Brunson blossom playing alongside proven seniors like Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins, this season, Brunson will be counted on to be Villanova’s main source of offense.

Capable of boosting his scoring averages, Brunson should also have more post help this season in the form of freshman big man Omari Spellman. Having played on the AAU circuit with former Duke big man Jahlil Okafor, Brunson has already shown an ability to get the ball inside to a double-team threat and it should open up his very good perimeter shooting ability even more.

Most of the lead guards on this list are at their best playing at a certain tempo. Brunson is one of the few guards in the nation who will always seemingly be in control no matter what is going on around him.

Final Four Sleepers | Louisville | Villanova | West Virginia | USC | Wichita State | Miami
Devonte’ Graham (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

2. Devonte’ Graham, Kansas

Stepping out of Frank Mason’s immense shadow will be Graham as he’s been one of the Big 12’s most dependable perimeter players in the past few seasons. The big thing for Graham will be how he handles the full point guard responsibilities now that Mason has exhausted his eligibility.

A former high school point guard who has also owned a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio during a season at Kansas, Graham has the pedigree to be successful but he still has the expectations of winning another Big 12 title and competing for a national title. With a supporting cast that has a lot of new pieces and not a lot of big men, this year will be a considerable challenge for Graham.

3. Joel Berry II, North Carolina

It’s hard to put a value on a point guard who has played in two consecutive title games and took home the most recent MOP from the Final Four. Berry became the first player since Bill Walton to score 20 points in back-to-back title games. He was MVP of the ACC Tournament as a sophomore.

And yet Berry doesn’t seem to get nearly enough praise for his penchant for stepping up in the big moment. Although he’s not the most efficient player when it comes to shooting and he doesn’t put up monster numbers during the season, Berry has consistently stepped up when North Carolina has needed him the most.

Senior season should be fascinating for Berry as he’s already dealing with a broken hand that will likely cause him to miss early time. It’ll be fascinating to see how the Tar Heels perform without him.

Joel Berry II (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

4. Collin Sexton, Alabama

Avery Johnson finally gets his star guard with the Crimson Tide as this five-star prospect has a chance to be a special talent. Likely only in Tuscaloosa for one season, Sexton is an elite scorer despite being a bit on the smaller side. When he played in the Nike EYBL, Sexton led the league in scoring by over eight points per game while also getting to the free throw line a massive amount of times.

And I haven’t even talked about Sexton’s ridiculous motor.

The type of dude who will talk himself into a frenzy during every moment of competition, Sexton doesn’t give up on either end as his intensity is perhaps his best trait. Sexton is going to be one of the country’s most fascinating freshmen this season. Since he is not playing for a traditional basketball factory while also being such a unique talent, make you to make time to watch Sexton this season. Alabama won’t just be a must-watch for football this season.

5. Jevon Carter, West Virginia

The Big 12’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Carter is West Virginia’s best player at creating his own shot. For a team that can struggle mightily to create consistent offense in the halfcourt, Carter is vitally important for West Virginia since he can knock down his own shots while also finding others.

Press Virginia gets its nickname and mentality in-part from Carter’s hard-nosed defensive play as that aspect of his game is a tone-setter for the Mountaineers.

Final Four Sleepers | Louisville | Villanova | West Virginia | USC | Wichita State | Miami
Trevon Duval (Reagan Lunn/Duke Athletics)
CONTENDER SERIES: Kentucky | Kansas | Arizona | Michigan State | Duke

6. Trevon Duval, Duke

Considered by many to be the top point guard in the high school senior class, Duval gives Duke the lead guard they lacked last season. With the size and athleticism to get in the paint whenever he wants, Duval comes into Durham with the reputation as a winner after leading multiple teams to prominent summer titles.

Nobody is doubting Duval’s ability to get in the paint for himself. The major question marks will deal with how Duval looks when the game gets slowed down. Always a monster in transition, Duval has a shaky perimeter jumper and he also hasn’t run a lot of offenses that required patience. There have already been some question marks about Duval’s ability to fit in on a Duke team that desperately needs shooting and leadership. But if Duval can find teammates and limit turnovers, he might be just what the Blue Devils need to return to the Final Four.

7. Landry Shamet, Wichita State

Monitoring Shamet’s health will be a major storyline during the early season as he’s recovering from a stress fracture in his foot that was found in July. Once Shamet became Wichita State’s starting point guard in January, the Shockers didn’t lose until their epic battle against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament.

One of the nation’s most efficient players last season — even though he was only a redshirt freshman — Shamet could see his role in the offense expand even more as a sophomore now that he’s more comfortable with the playbook.

RELATED: Top 100 Players | Top Backcourts | Top Frontcourts | Top Off Guards
Jaylen Adams (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

8. Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure

Perhaps the best player in college hoops that nobody talks about, Adams has been a regular on the All-Atlantic 10 first team over the past two seasons. A dynamic scorer who can also distribute a high number of assists, Adams plays nearly every minute for the Bonnies as he’s the leader of one of the best backcourts in the country playing with shooting guard Matt Mobley.

Is this the year that Adams and the Bonnies can make the NCAA tournament? Four starters are back from a 20-win team as expectations will be high on Adams to help carry them back for the first time since 2012.

CONTENDER SERIES: Kentucky | Kansas | Arizona | Michigan State | Duke

9. Rob Gray, Houston

Leading the American in scoring last season at 20.6 points per contest, Gray is a nightmare to defend thanks to his 38 percent three-point shooting. Although he was a known scorer entering last season, Gray also did a solid job of improving other aspects of his game as his numbers went up nearly across the board.

Another warrior guard who doesn’t leave the floor very often, Gray had multiple 40-minute games last season as the Cougars are hoping he can carry them to March.

10. Nate Mason, Minnesota

The engine that made Minnesota go during their turnaround season, Mason was one of the best players in the Big Ten last season. The Golden Gophers’ leader in points and assists last season, Mason was Richard Pitino’s first recruit at Minnesota as he’s been a program-changing player.

If there is one area that Mason needs to improve it will be his inefficient field goal percentages as Mason can put up a lot of shots to get his points during some games. With so many weapons around him for a team with high expectations, those numbers need to go up this season.

RELATED: Top 100 Players | Top Backcourts | Top Frontcourts | Top Off Guards
Khadeen Carrington (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
  • 11. Shake Milton, SMU: This will be Milton’s team after the Mustangs lost so much firepower from last season’s team. Scoring can come easy for Milton but it’ll be intriguing to see how he makes others better.
  • 12. Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall: Steadily improving each season of his college career, Carrington will be one of the most dangerous guards in the country this season. He’s a known scorer but his assist-to-turnover ratio needs to improve.
  • 13. Matt Farrell, Notre Dame: After stepping into the starting lineup last season, Farrell proved himself to be one of the most important players in the country. Notre Dame plays fast but Farrell leads the chaos with limited turnovers.
  • 14. Aaron Holiday, UCLA: Perhaps the nation’s best sixth man a season ago, Holiday still put up great numbers across the board as he has a chance to be one of the best two-way guards in the country.
  • 15. Kyron Cartwright, Providence: With Kris Dunn moving on to the pros, Cartwright had his time to shine as he was fourth in the nation in assists last season. Cartwright could make another leap if he improves as a scorer.
CONTENDER SERIES: Kentucky | Kansas | Arizona | Michigan State | Duke
Jalen Adams (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
  • 16. Jalen Adams, UConn: Adams can be reckless at times but he’s also really fun to watch if he gets rolling as a scorer. Now that the Huskies have more talent around him it’ll be interesting to see if Adams becomes more efficient.
  • 17. Jordan McLaughlin, USC: A major presence for the Trojans the last three seasons, McLaughlin is a reliable scorer and distributor as he’ll lead one of the best teams in the country.
  • 18. Bryant McIntosh, Northwestern: McIntosh’s shooting numbers actually dipped as a junior but he’s still one of the most offensively gifted lead guards in the country if his shot isn’t falling. If his shot comes back, watch out.
  • 19. Bryant Crawford, Wake Forest: Underrated in the ACC, Crawford had six 20-point games in his final eight last season, closing out a strong sophomore year in which he became a much more efficient player.
  • 20. Trae Young, Oklahoma: This freshman sharpshooter has a chance to lead an underrated Oklahoma backcourt as he can pull up and knock down jumpers from beyond NBA range.

VIDEO: Former Michigan athletes Austin Hatch and Abby Cole tie the knot

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The life of former Michigan basketball player Austin Hatch has not been without its challenges, as during his pre-college years he survived two separate plane crashes that took the lives of his parents, a stepmother and two siblings.

Hatch’s scholarship offer to Michigan was honored by head coach John Beilein despite the impact that the crashes had on Hatch physically, and Hatch would go on to earn his degree and land a job at the corporate office for Domino’s. This past spring, Hatch was honored during the team’s Senior Day festivities.

By that point Hatch was already engaged to Abby Cole, who played volleyball at Michigan from 2013 to 2016. And over the weekend, the two tied the knot in what was a highly emotional day for all involved. Below is a video of their wedding day, which was chronicled by Derek Postma.

Congratulations and best wishes to Abby and Austin on their marriage.

Arizona lands Cornell forward Stone Gettings for 2019-20 season

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Arizona landed its first addition for the 2019-20 season on Monday, as an Ivy League power forward revealed his intention to join Sean Miller’s program as a graduate student.

6-foot-9 forward Stone Gettings, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game at Cornell last season, picked Arizona over Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. A second team All-Ivy selection, Gettings is on course to graduate from Cornell in December. Instead of using his final season of eligibility at Cornell, Gettings will sit out this season before playing at Arizona.

Gettings does have a connection to the Arizona program, as one of his high school teammates was former point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The addition of Gettings will give Arizona a front court player who can score around the basket and from the perimeter, as he shot nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Gettings isn’t the first Ivy League player to make his decision regarding a new school well in advance of his being able to move as a grad transfer, as former Yale point guard Makai Mason took a similar approach. Mason, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a torn ACL, announced prior to last season that he be joining the Baylor program as a grad transfer for the 2018-19 campaign.

Not counting Gettings, Arizona has four scholarship front court players on its current roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019-20, in current junior Chase Jeter, sophomores Emmanuel Akot and Ira Lee and freshman Omar Thielemans.

Bill Self: Silvio De Sousa’s eligibility not in jeopardy ‘at this stage’

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One of the biggest question marks heading into the 2018-19 season for the Kansas Jayhawks is the eligibility status of Silvio De Sousa.

If you’ve forgotten, a player that is believed to be De Sousa was referenced in a second round of indictments handed by the FBI. In those documents, De Sousa’s guardian is alleged to have asked an Adidas rep for at least $20,000 to repay a rival apparel company for a payment that was made to secure De Sousa’s commitment to another school. Prior to a surprise commitment to Kansas, De Sousa was long considered a Maryland lean. His AAU program and high school team were both sponsored by Under Armour, whose flagship program is Maryland.

According to Kansas head coach Bill Self, at this point De Sousa is still eligible.

“Nobody at this stage has given us any information that he could be in jeopardy at this stage,” Self said.

This is not surprising.

The way that I would expect this to play out is similar to the way it played out for players that were referenced in the indictments that came down last fall. Kansas is going to string this thing along until we get to a point in time close to the start of the season, when they will announce that De Sousa is being held out of competition. It is better for Kansas to bite the bullet and play without De Sousa than it would be for them to risk knowingly suiting up a player that can be retroactively ruled ineligible.

That sucks for De Sousa.

The good news for Kansas, however, is that Udoka Azubuike is back, as is Mitch Lightfoot, while both Dedric and K.J. Lawson will be eligible as they add freshman David McCormack. There is more than enough frontcourt depth to withstand the loss of De Sousa.

VIDEO: The #ShiggyChallenge has reached college hoops with Loyola’s coach showing his skills

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New Loyola-Maryland head coach Tavaras Hardy became the first college basketball head coach to get in on the Shiggy Challenge, as he posted this video to twitter on Tuesday morning:

What is the #ShiggyChallenge?

It’s the latest viral dance, which started just two weeks ago when an online personality named Shiggy posted himself dancing to Drake’s “In My Feelings” on Instagram:

#Mood : KEKE Do You Love Me ? 😂😂😂 @champagnepapi #DoTheShiggy #InMyFeelings

A post shared by Shoker🃏 (@theshiggyshow) on

From there, it took off, with everyone from Odell Beckham Jr. to James Harden trying to prove themselves capable of taking down the #ShiggyChallenge.

And now Tavaras Hardy is doing it.

The end.

Takeaways from the UAA Challenge: Nico Mannion and Josh Green are must-see, Anthony Edwards tops 2020

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EMERSON, Ga. — Although the Peach Jam was huge focal point of the first evaluation period, Under Armour had themselves a solid event with the UAA Challenge just north of Atlanta. With plenty of signature matchups and five-star talents, there were a lot of things to watch during a brief stop there during the first live evaluation period.

Here are some things to watch with the UAA, when they’ll be the focal point during the third live evaluation week as they host the UAA Finals in Las Vegas next week.

NICO MANNION AND JOSH GREEN aRE THE BEST 1-2 PUNCH IN THE UAA

Over the last few years, the duo of Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis have built a big reputation in the UAA. Deservedly so. But, over the next few weeks, the West Coast Elite duo of point guard Nico Mannion and Josh Green will be more fun to watch.

While the duo of Antoine and Lewis could end up being better long-term prospects (that’s a debate for another time), the duo of Mannion and Green have a unique chemistry playing with each other that Antoine and Lewis can lack at times since they play such similar positions.

Both Mannion and Green made major waves this weekend in the UAA Challenge.

Confirming to NBCSports.com that he intends to reclassify into the Class of 2019 from the Class of 2020, Mannion looked like he was ready to make the leap into college hoops. Second in the event in assists per game, Mannion had 38 of them over a six-game span (6.3 per game) and only had four turnovers in 164 minutes of action.

Also shooting 59 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free-throw line on his way to 15.8 points per contest, Mannion was incredibly efficient. He showed court savvy, athleticism and a solid perimeter jumper. Mannion has Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Marquette, Oregon and USC hard after him as he will be an intriguing point guard to watch during July.

Green, a 6-foot-6 two-way wing, was also incredibly efficient as he shot 71 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range on his way to 18.0 points, 3.1 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. With four or more assists in four games, Green has natural floor vision and passing ability to go along with his scoring prowess. After showcasing a shaky perimeter jumper at times in the past, Green has worked with a trainer the past few months to become more consistent from deep. Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, UCLA, USC and Villanova are some of the schools that Green mentioned to NBCSports.com as being in the mix.

Both Green and Mannion are already five-star prospects. It’ll just be interesting to see them close out the live period the next two weeks because they have a chance to make some major noise.

ANTHONY EDWARDS HAS A CHANCE TO BE 2020’S BEST

The Class of 2019 doesn’t have a lot of star power in terms of No. 1 quality players — my colleague Rob Dauster went over that yesterday — but there seem to be a few worthy contenders in the Class of 2020.

Among them includes 6-foot-5 shooting guard Anthony Edwards. The Atlanta native was one of the must-see players of the first evaluation period. Playing in a high-profile matchup against five-star 2020 guard Jaden Springer, Edwards displayed a natural scoring ability thanks to his ridiculous athleticism and acumen for putting the ball in the basket; he’s what hoopheads will call a “bucket-getter”.

Although his jumper wasn’t falling from three-point range (5-for-22), Edwards still shot 57 percent from the field while putting up 22.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game during the weekend.

Displaying more vision and passing ability with his Atlanta Xpress team than in the camp setting, Edwards looked like a more complete guard at the UAA Challenge. He also defended to the tune of an event-leading 2.4 steals per game as Edwards has long arms and a quick first step to jump into passing lanes.

There is plenty of competition for the top spot in 2020, but Edwards is going to be among the major contenders with his summer play.

JEREMIAH EARL-ROBINSON IS AS PRODUCTIVE AS ANYONE IN THE CLASS

This summer has seen Jeremiah Robinson-Earl produce everywhere he has played. The 6-foot-8 Class of 2019 forward helped the USA U18 team win a gold medal while also leading the UAA Challenge in rebounds the first week of July.

A double-double machine who is improving his perimeter skill, Robinson-Earl is a hard-playing and intriguing combo forward who should join a high-level college rotation immediately. He has great secondary leaping ability that enables him to be a menace on the offensive glass as he’s particularly adept at putbacks.

If Robinson-Early can show an improved perimeter jumper and an ability to attack off the dribble, then he’ll have a chance to be a top-ten player in the class. He has the motor and production to rise if he fixes his flaws and he’ll have plenty of time to be a showcase player at IMG Academy next season.

Kansas is a perceived favorite with Robinson-Earl, as Bill Self coached him on the U18 team over the past several weeks before the live period. North Carolina and Arizona are among some other schools also trying to stay in the mix for Robinson-Earl as they try to pry him away from the Midwest.