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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.

UNLV ends No. 4 San Diego State’s undefeated season

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And then there were none.

On the night that San Diego State celebrated winning the Mountain West regular season title, the dream of an undefeated season died, and T.J. Otzelberger killed it.

Elijah Mitrou-Long led the way with 19 points off the bench, hitting four clutch free throws in the final minutes, while Amauri Hardy went for 17 points and Bryce Hamilton chipped in with 11 points and 10 boards as UNLV handed the No. 4 Aztecs their first loss of the season, 66-63. The Rebels were able to hang on despite the fact that they did not make a field goal in the final 10:44 of the game.

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Anthony Edwards posterizes Vanderbilt defender

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It took about four months for us to get to this point, but finally, we have video of Anthony Edwards absolutely posterizing someone.

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Anthony Edwards killed a guy.

A post shared by Rob Dauster (@rob.dauster) on

This is pretty much the definition of a poster.

Is it not?

I’d hang this Anthony Edwards dunk up on my wall:

 (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

TCU drops No. 17 West Virginia in overtime

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Desmond Bane didn’t think a foul should have been called against him on the shot that appeared to be a game-winner in regulation for TCU.

The Horned Frogs rendered the whistle moot in overtime.

Kevin Samuel scored six of his 19 points in the extra period and TCU extended No. 17 West Virginia’s Big 12 road woes with a 67-60 victory over the Mountaineers on Saturday.

Bane sent the crowd into a frenzy on a driving layup with 0.9 seconds left, but the senior guard was called for pushing off on Jermaine Haley as he went up for the shot after racing the length of the floor off a West Virginia miss.

RELATED: Latest CBT Bubble Watch | Bracketology

“I mean, I did,” Bane said when asked if he pushed off. “But he bumped me first, for one, and for two, you just don’t call that with 0.9 seconds left. But, it is what it is.”

Jaire Grayer broke the 55-all tie with his only 3-pointer to start overtime, and Samuel hit two buckets and two free throws as the Mountaineers lost their fifth straight road conference game. They beat TCU by 32 at home in January.

“Haven’t made shots,” said coach Bob Huggins, who stayed tied with Dean Smith for sixth on the all-time coaching victories list at 879. “But I mean, we haven’t made shots at home either.”

Derek Culver had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Taz Sherman scored 16 points for West Virginia (19-8, 7-7).

Samuel made all seven of his shots and had eight rebounds with five blocks, RJ Nembhard scored 16 points and Bane finished with eight points and 10 assists in TCU’s second home victory over a ranked team. The Horned Frogs beat then-No. 18 Texas Tech in January.

“I hope it gives some of the younger guys confidence that it can be done,” said Bane, a senior. “We went out there and got flat out embarrassed in West Virginia. To come back here and beat that team is huge for us. Hopefully we can build off this moving forward.”

West Virginia finished 2 of 17 from 3-point range, including an air ball on an open look for Sean McNeil with the Mountaineers down by three in overtime.

McNeil also had a desperation heave from past half court bounce off the back of the rim when West Virginia managed to get off a shot after the call against Bane.

The Mountaineers missed four straight free throws late before Oscar Tshiebwe made the second of two for a 55-all tie with 1:03 to go. Miles McBride couldn’t finish off a possible three-point play, and Culver missed two free throws.

Culver scored six points and Sherman had the last five on a 15-1 run that put West Virginia up 25-15 in the first half.

TCU later answered with a 19-2 run that carried over halftime, turning a 31-21 deficit into a 40-33 lead when Nembhard hit a 3-pointer.

BIG PICTURE

West Virginia: Tshiebwe, the freshman leading West Virginia in scoring, was held to just one point and has attempted just six shots, with one make, the past two games. The Big 12’s second-leading rebounder wasn’t as much of a factor inside either, finishing with five boards after six straight games with at least eight.

“We sat him most of the first half because he just wouldn’t get back to his man,” Huggins said.

TCU: The slide toward the bottom of the standings has been steady since the Horned Frogs started 3-0 in the Big 12 after getting voted last by league coaches in a preseason poll. But this is quite a boost coming off seven losses in eight games.

ARGENTINE’S CONCUSSION

The Horned Frogs scored the final eight points of the first half, starting with a 3-pointer from guard Francisco Farabello. The only points for the freshman from Argentina came moments before he ended up on the floor holding his head following a scramble for a loose ball. Farabello had to be helped to the locker room and was ruled out with a concussion.

KNOCKING DOWN THE FREEBIES

Samuel, a 34% shooter on free throws coming into the game, was 5 of 6 from the line. The two in overtime put the Horned Frogs up six with 1:19 remaining.

“Obviously Kevin was terrific, so happy for him, how hard he’s worked on his free throws,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “And to go and knock those down, to be 5 of 6 at the end of the day is a great thing.”

UP NEXT

West Virginia: At Texas on Monday.

TCU: At Iowa State on Tuesday.

For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Memphis keeps at-large hopes alive with win over No. 22 Houston

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Precious Achiuwa scored 10 points, including the go-ahead free throw with 28.2 seconds left, and Memphis beat No. 22 Houston 60-59 on Saturday.

Malcolm Dandridge scored 12 points and Lester Quinones and Tyler Harris had 10 points apiece as Memphis (19-8, 8-6 American Athletic Conference) won its second straight.

Caleb Mills led Houston (21-7, 11-4) with 21 points and Marcus Sasser added 18 points for the Cougars. Mills’ jumper with 4 seconds left was off the mark. Houston missed its last four shots.

Houston was without guard Quentin Grimes, its second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game. Grimes was dealing with a hip pointer.

The Cougars were forced to play catch-up for much of the game.

RELATED: Latest CBT Bubble Watch | Bracketology

Sasser’s 3-pointer gave Houston the lead with just under seven minutes left. It started a string of nine straight points for Sasser.

The teams exchanged leads down the stretch. Mills converted a pair of free throws with 47 seconds left to tie it at 59. Achiuwa then made the second of two free throws for the final margin.

By the midway point of the first half, neither team was shooting well. Memphis, which struggled early, managed to take the lead.

The Tigers put together enough of an offensive push during the middle stages of the first half to build the lead to eight points on a couple of occasions. Memphis led 27-23 at halftime with Houston shooting 26% from the field.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars improved their shooting in the second half, going 12 for 26 (46%), but went cold again in the final minutes.

Memphis: The Tigers needed the win since they are considered outside looking in on the NCAA Tournament. Memphis struggled from the field, especially Achiuwa, Boogie Ellis and Quinones, who combined to go 3 of 24. Dandridge made all five of his shots.

UP NEXT

Houston: Hosts Cincinnati on March 1.

Memphis: At SMU on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegesbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Pipkins scores 24, Providence beats No. 19 Marquette 84-72

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Luwane Pipkins scored 24 points and David Duke had 15 to lead Providence to an 84-72 victory over No. 19 Marquette on Saturday, the Friars’ third straight victory – all over ranked teams.

Markus Howard scored 38 points for Marquette, which lost its third straight game. Howard shot 10 for 25 from the field and had just one assist while committing four of the Golden Eagles’ (17-9, 7-7 Big East) 18 turnovers.

RELATED: Latest CBT Bubble Watch | Bracketology

AJ Reeves added 11 points and three others had 10 for Providence (16-12, 9-6), which held a double-digit lead for all but 39 seconds of the game’s last 26:29. Trailing 71-50, the Golden Eagles scored seven points in a row, but they could get no closer.

Providence led by as many as 17 in the first half thanks to its 3-point shooting (8 for 15) and 17 points from Pipkins. After Marquette cut the lead to nine, 52-43, midway through the second, the Friars scored six straight points.

It was 62-50 when Providence scored nine in a row, the last five on a basket and a 3-point play by Duke.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: The Golden Eagles dipped into The Associated Press Top 25 at No. 18 on Feb. 10 and have lost three in a row. Though the first two were to higher-ranked teams, the loss at Providence will certainly drop them out of the rankings

Providence: The Friars are fourth in the Big East and the top unranked team in the conference. They are 4-4 against ranked teams this season.

UP NEXT

Marquette: Hosts Georgetown on Wednesday.

Providence: At No. 12 Villanova on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25