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Top Guards for 2011-12: Tu is a True Star

Jesse Siegel

Jesse Siegel

Siegel covers college football, college basketball and minor league baseball for RotoWire. He was named College Sports Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.


TOP GUARDS
TOP FORWARDS
TOP CENTERS



POINT GUARDS

1. Tu Holloway, Xavier

Holloway exploded last season for the Musketeers, averaging 19.7 points, 5.4 assists and 1.4 steals from the point guard slot. Even thought he's just 6-foot-0, Holloway also grabbed 5.0 rebounds per game. His shooting percentage will never be high (42.4 percent in 2010-2011), but did hit 87.0 percent of his free throws. He also played an absurd 38.4 minutes per tilt for Xavier as a junior. The Musketeers' workhorse should have another dazzling season in his final year for Xavier.

2. Jordan Taylor, Wisconsin

It could be tough for Taylor to repeat an immensely impressive junior season in which he failed to score double-digits just twice for the Badgers. More of a scoring point guard, Taylor still managed 4.7 dimes per game for Wisconsin. He also grabbed 4.1 rebounds per game with his stellar 18.1 points per game. A cagey veteran at this point in his collegiate career, Taylor wants the ball in his hands at closing time, and knows how to win. You know what you're getting with Taylor: consistent, superior production.

3. Dee Bost, Mississippi State

Bost is a stat-sheet stuffer for the Bulldogs, accumulating 15.3 points, 3.5 boards, 6.2 dimes and 1.6 thefts per contest as a junior last season despite missing the beginning of last season due to failing to properly withdraw his name from the NBA Draft. Bost came back with a vengeance following the suspension, though, posting career-high averages in points, assists and steals. Perhaps a full season will get his shooting percentage up as well, as Bost shot just 38.9 percent from the field. However, that is nearly the only drawback for the dynamic senior playmaker.

4. Jorge Gutierrez, California

Gutierrez came out of nowhere last season to star for Cal. The 23-year-old from Chihuahua, Mexico, managed 14.6 points, 3.8 boards and 4.5 assists per contest for the Bears. Gutierrez is a much better penetrator than shooter, as he hit just 41.1 percent of his tries from the field, including just 33.0 percent from three-point land. Still, Gutierrez had a stretch of 10 consecutive games with at least 13 points scored in February/March of last year, including a 34-point outburst against UCLA. He has also shown quick hands on the defensive end to the tune of 1.6 steals per tilt. All in all, you could do far worse at the 1 than the feisty Gutierrez.

5. Peyton Siva, Louisville

Siva made his presence felt with some clutch shots for the Cardinals last season, and coach Rick Pitino likely will take the training wheels off in 2011-12. Siva was productive as he assumed a leadership role with the club last season, averaging 9.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.2 dimes and 2.0 steals pr game in 27.9 minutes per contest. With some added experience under his belt, Siva should take his game to the next level this season.

6. Austin Rivers, Duke

The best freshman in the country is probably Rivers, a combo guard who due to his size (6-4, 190) likely will end up at the point. Not surprisingly due to his lineage as the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, he is a student of the game and has great instincts. He can shoot the lights outs and has a deadly three-point stroke. He's not the greatest athlete, but it wouldn't be wise to sleep on him in that regard, either. With Nolan Smith, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Singler gone, Rivers has the chance to step in and dominate the ball right away for Coach K.

7. Scoop Jardine, Syracuse

The Orange have one of the nation's most talented backcourts, teaming Jardine with Brandon Triche. Scoop shot poorly last year but asserted more of a leadership role for 'Cuse. Overall, Jardine managed 12.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.6 steals per contest. For some reason, Jardine lost his shooting rhythm last season, as evidenced by 41.5 percent from the field and just 66.4 percent from the charity stripe, both career lows. Still, if Jardine can find the touch with his shot, he could be poised for a superior finish to his college career.

8. Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette

DJO is a bulldog for the Golden Eagles at 6-2, 215. Built more like a running back than a basketball player, Johnson-Odom averaged 15.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game in 2010-11. Jimmy Butler was Mr. Everything for coach Buzz Williams last season, but he has since moved on. That leaves DJO to make his mark on this squad. He might not be as athletically gifted or instinctual as others on this list, but DJO makes up for it with grit, effort and determination.

9. Maalik Wayns, Villanova

Wayns took the a step in the right direction as a sophomore, as coach Jay Wright played three-guard sets with Corey Stokes and Corey Fisher. The Two Coreys are no longer with the team leaving the reins to Wayns. Even with less ball to go around last year, Wayns still amassed 13.8 points, 4.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He even snatched 2.8 rebounds per game. His shooting needs to get better, particularly from long range, as Wayns hit just 27.1 percent of his treys as a sophomore. However, if his shot selection gets better, there's not much holding Wayns back from conquering the Big East.

10. Erving Walker, Florida

The diminutive Walker is just 5-8, 171. However, his speed, quickness and ability to get his shot off in traffic make him a viable point guard in the SEC. Walker is a bit more of a shoot-first point guard, averaging 14.6 points per contest as compared to just 3.4 dimes per tilt as a junior. Still, as a sophomore he managed 4.9 assists per game, showing that he has the ability to be a playmaker in setting up his teammates as well. With Kenny Boynton at his side, Walker is primed for another standout campaign.

11. Aaron Craft, Ohio State
6.9 ppg, 4.8 apg
12. Marquis Teague, Kentucky
High School
13. Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
6.2 ppg, 6.2 apg
14. Joe Jackson, Memphis
9.9 ppg, 3.1 apg
15. Marcus Denmon, Missouri
16.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg

SHOOTING GUARDS

1. John Jenkins, Vanderbilt

Few can fill it up like Jenkins, who averaged 19.5 points per game on 46.2-percent shooting during his sophomore season at Vandy. Jenkins hit 40.8 percent of his three-pointers and 89.4 percent of his free throws, making him extremely dangerous in closing out games. Jenkins also managed 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game last year, as well. With Festus Ezeli and Jeffery Taylor to lean on, Jenkins can get hot and knock down jumpers with ease, making him one of the best pure shooters in the game.

2. Ashton Gibbs, Pittsburgh

Gibbs had a monstrous season from beyond the arc for Pitt as a junior, hitting an an absurd 49 percent from three-point land. He wasn't too shabby overall as well, connecting on 46.8 percent of his shots en route to 16.8 points per game. Gibbs increased his playmaking abilities last season as well, averaging 2.8 dimes per contest, a jump of an extra assist per tilt from his sophomore campaign. An 88.9-percent free-throw shooter to boot, Gibbs has the ability to carry the Panthers on his back.

3. Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut

Kemba Walker got all the pub last season during UConn's national championship run, and perhaps rightly so. However, he wouldn't have accomplished that feat without Lamb, who hit clutch shots during both the Big East tournament as well as the Big Dance. With Walker gone to the NBA, Lamb will now be the focal point of the Huskies offense. Even as a complementary player as a freshman, Lamb scored 11.1 points per contest, grabbed 4.5 rebounds per tilt, and even dished 1.6 assists per game. Lamb is a great bet to become a superstar for UConn in the 2011-12 campaign.

4. William Buford, Ohio State

Jon Diebler and David Lighty have flown the coop, but Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft remain on what is still an uber-talented Buckeyes squad. Bufod has been a constant in his time in Columbus, never averaging less than 11.3 points in any season. Sullinger took some boards away from him last year, as his rebounds declined from 5.6 per game as a sophomore, to 3.9 per game as a junior. Still, Buford can dish the rock too, and he shot 44.2 percent from downtown last season. Buford will prove an excellent Robin to Sullinger's Batman this season.

5. Allen Crabbe, California

Crabbe sizzled as a freshman for the Bears, averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in his first season at Cal. He hit 44.6 percent of his shots, including 40.0 percent from beyond the arc. An 80.4-percent shooter from the line, Crabbe's game is multi-faceted. He also benefits from the above-referenced Jorge Gutierrez, who makes Crabbe's jobs a lot easier. That 1-2 punch should be a handful in the Pac-12 this season.

6. Terrence Ross, Washington

Ross is the classic upside pick for this season. He has great size for a shooting guard at 6-6. In just 17.4 minutes per game as a freshman last season, Ross still managed 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. He hit 44.3 percent from the field and 35.2 percent from the floor and should see an expanded role with Isaiah Thomas leaving for the NBA and Justin Holiday and Matthew Bryan-Amaning graduating. Ross has loads of potential, and all the tools to deliver.

7. Kenny Boynton, Florida

Boynton is an explosive combo guard who would play point guard on most teams but sits at the 2 due to the presence of Erving Walker. Boynton is an elite athlete whose shot needs work; still, he improved in all shooting categories from his freshman to sophomore campaigns. Boynton scored 14.2 points per game despite shooting less than 40 percent from the floor. An athletic penetrator, Boynton can make the leap with a solid shooting season.

8. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan

Junior is bigger than his father, making him a shooting guard instead of a point guard. He hasn't broken many ankles with the crossover dribble thus far in his brief career at Michigan, but son has certainly proven that balling is in his genes. The younger Hardaway managed 13.9 points, 3.8 boards, 1.7 dimes and 1.0 steals per tilt as a freshman. He shot 42.0 percent from the floor, including 36.7 percent from three-point land. Hardaway is a work in progress, but certainly has the pedigree to succeed.

9. Will Barton, Memphis

Barton is among the more versatile shooting guards in the nation. He's less of a knockdown shooter and more of a slasher. He averaged 12.3 points, 4.9 boards and 2.8 dimes as a freshman for the Tigers. He'll have to work on his jumpshot, though; Barton connected on just 26.5 percent of his attempts from three-point land and hit just 69.9 percent of his free throws. However, at 6-6, Barton can rebound with the best of them, and also managed 1.5 steals per contest, using his quickness and athleticism. His upside has NBA scouts salivating.

10. Doron Lamb, Kentucky

Lamb is one of the purest shooters around. In his freshman campaign, he hit a staggering 48.6 percent of his three-pointers en route to 12.3 points per game. As is always the case at Kentucky with Coach Calipari, Lamb will have a stellar supporting cast around him, including reigning Freshman of the Year Terrence Jones and standout recruits Anthony Davis and Marquise Teague. With less pressure to carry the squad on his back, Lamb can do what he does best: make shots.

11. Kim English, Missouri
10.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg
12. Seth Curry, Duke
9.0 ppg, 2.0 apg
13. PJ Hairston, North Carolina
High School
14. Bradley Beal, Florida
High School
15. Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse
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