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Top Forwards: 2013-14 Rankings

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

The impact of the incoming freshman class will be felt most at the forward positions, as Andrew Wiggins of Kansas, Jabari Parker of Duke and Julius Randle of Kentucky attempt to set the college basketball world afire. There will be dunks aplenty from this group, so set your DVR and prepare to be amazed. Let's dive in and take a look at the next wave of college basketball forwards.

SMALL FORWARDS

1. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas -
The most hyped high school star since LeBron James will almost certainly be a "One and Done" player for the Jayhawks, but it still should be an incredibly entertaining season to watch unfold. Wiggins is an athletic freak whose highlight reel dunks have already made their rounds on the Internet. He is an outstanding finisher around and above the rim. He also has great size and quickness, assets which should help him at the defensive end as well. Wiggins' athleticism allows him to score at will, but he doesn't have that assassin's mentality just yet. Still, he's only going to get better, and his physical gifts are unrivaled in the college game. Wiggins is a special player and a virtual lock to be the No. 1 selection in the 2014 NBA Draft.

2. Doug McDermott, Creighton -
McDermott is a polished, seasoned senior, who decided to return for his final season with the Blue jays. McDermott averaged 23.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per tilt. McDermott is an extremely cerebral player who can score from anywhere on the court. He shot a career-high 49-percent from three-point land as a sophomore, though really excels with his back to the basket. He has a variety of post moves which baffle opposing defenders. McDermott is an efficient scorer who uses his smarts to overwhelm the opposition. Expect more of the same from McDermott as he finishes off a standout college career.

3. Jabari Parker, Duke -
In most other seasons, Parker would have been the surefire top recruit in all of college basketball. However, with Andrew Wiggins in the fold, Parker will have to settle for getting slightly fewer headlines than his freshman counterpart. Still, it would be a mistake to underrate the 6-8 Parker. Parker is an exceptional ball-handler with superior vision. He will make his mark ultimately as a scorer, though; he can score in the post, off the dribble or pulling up for a silky smooth jumper. His length on the defensive end will bother opposing players. Parker isn't the explosive athlete that Wiggins is, but his game may be more well-rounded at this point in time. In sum, Parker should be a star right off the bat for the Blue Devils.

4. C.J. Fair, Syracuse -
Fair has the chance to really shine this season for the Orange. The left-handed junior can score in bunches and possesses superior athleticism. Fair averaged 14.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game as a junior, while playing nearly 35 minutes per contest. There will be even more of a scoring vacuum at Syracuse with the departures of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche. Coach Jim Boeheim will lean heavily on the senior leadership of Fair, who could be in for a monstrous year to cap off his collegiate career.

5. P.J. Hairston, North Carolina -
Hairston had a rough offseason, and will likely be suspended to begin the 2013-2014 season. Strictly from an on-court perspective, Hairston had a breakout season as a sophomore, averaging 14.6 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He was deadly from beyond the three-point arc, attempting nearly seven long balls per game and hitting 39.6-percent of his treys. However, he falls in love with the three-pointer at times, and needs to show a more complete all-around game. Reggie Bullock is in the NBA, which should leave even more floor space for Hairston to operate. Assuming he matures and stays out of trouble, Hairston should continue to improve for the 'Heels.

6. Rodney Hood, Duke -
The Mississippi State transfer could be among the most surprising players in the country this season. Hood averaged 10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per tilt during his lone season at MSU. He is a scorer by trade, and at 6-8 has tremendous length and upside. His offensive game is extremely polished, and he also has the athleticism to make mid-air adjustments, both in the lane or at the rim. One of the knocks on him as a Bulldog was his lack of physical strength, but he should be better in that department after a season off. Don't sleep on Hood, who could shine under the tutelage of Coach K.

7. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan -
With Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Trey Burke in the NBA, "Little Dog" will get his chance to flex his muscle for the Wolverines. Though not the scorer his father was, III might be a better athlete. He had one of the signature dunks of the 2012-2013 campaign, a scintillating breakaway 360 against Minnesota. Robinson is out to prove he's much more than a high-flyer this season; he averaged 11.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in his freshman campaign. He shot a blistering 57.2-percent from the floor, though most of his shots came from the painted area. An increase in his range will make him a much more dangerous scorer. Robinson has plenty of upside as his basketball skills catch up to his raw talent.

8. Alex Poythress, Kentucky -
Poythress had a down freshman year for the Wildcats after being part of yet another superior recruiting class by Wildcat coach John Calipari. Poythress is a standout athlete with an NBA body who plays above the rim. He can create his own shot off the dribble, defend opposing small forwards due to his size, speed and quickness, and bang down low and hit the glass. He hit 58.1-percent of his shots from the field, with most of his opportunities coming from inside the lane. Poythress averaged 11.2 points and 6.0 rebounds; his outside shot remains a work in progress, though he did hit 14-of-33 (42.4-percent) in limited opportunities from three-point range. Don't forget about Poythress despite the influx of freshmen talent at UK.

9. Luke Hancock, Louisville -
The Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four returns to the Cardinals with the chance to play even more of a central role. Hancock thrived as instant offense off the bench on Louisville's Championship squad a season ago. Hancock hit 39.9-percent from three-point land for the year, including 5-of-6 against Michigan in the Championship contest. With more minutes in 2013-2014, Hancock should find more production. As an example, with five more minutes per game as a sophomore at George Mason, Hancock averaged 10.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Expect similar numbers out of Hancock as he continues to shoot the lights out for the Cardinals.

10. LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State -
Ross is more of an upside pick, as he has played behind Jared Sullinger and DeShuan Thomas over the past two seasons for the Buckeyes. Still, he was no slouch as a sophomore in Columbus, piling up 8.3 points and 2.9 rebounds per game. Ross did hit 35-of-90 treys (38.9-percent) last season, and can be an efficient scorer when needed. He has great size at 6-8, and his high release makes him even harder to defend. He's aggressive and possesses a smooth stroke and feathery touch. Ross will need to improve his defense and passing as he plays heavier minutes in 2013-2014.

11. Aaron Gordon, Arizona - high school
12. LeBryan Nash, Oklahoma State - 14.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg
13. TJ Warren, NC State - 12.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg
14. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin - 9.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg
15. Wayne Blackshear, Louisville - 7.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg

POWER FORWARDS

1. Julius Randle, Kentucky -
Yet another freshman tops the list, this time coming in the form of the beastly Randle. Randle is multi-talented; the 6-10, 240-pounder can use his raw size and strength to simply manhandle opposing defenders, but also possesses superior ball-handling skills and agility. He is a surprisingly stellar shooter and a willing passer. Did I mention he's a southpaw? Randle is most comfortable facing the basket, where he can assess the situation and break down opposing defenses. Randle has the work ethic and power to become a better defender at the power forward position. From a fantasy perspective, however, his offensive game is already studly.

2. James McAdoo, North Carolina -
Last season was supposed to be McAdoo's coming out party on his way to superstardom, but he was inconsistent for the Tar Heels. Nevertheless, the 6-9 forward showed signs of greatness and still averaged 14.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. It was the first time he received big minutes in his career. He's made great strides with his post moves on the offensive end, but remains raw. McAdoo also doesn't have great range on his jump shot, something he will also continue to work on improving. His shot-blocking is also almost non-existent despite a big, athletic frame. McAdoo hasn't reached his potential, but his build, determination and talent should still make him one of the better power forwards in college hoops this season.

3. Adreian Payne, Michigan State -
Payne showed vast improvement in his game last season, even flirting with the prospect of an early entry to the NBA Draft before returning to the Spartans for his senior campaign. Payne averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, shooting 54.6-percent from the floor and 84.8-percent from the charity stripe. Payne also swatted 1.3 shots per game. Payne's game still has room to grow, and he has the body (6-10, 245-lb) to throw around in the post as well. With coach Tom Izzo backing him, Payne has the chance to emerge as a bona fide star in the Big Ten.

4. Kyle Anderson, UCLA -
Despite standing at almost 6-10, Anderson may be asked to run the point for the Bruins this season. That's how versatile the sophomore is. As a freshman, he compiled 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per contest. Anderson's shooting is a work in progress; he hit just 41.6-percent of his shots from the floor. Anderson connected on just eight three-pointers for the entire season. Still, he has the ability to stuff the stat sheet as a type of point-forward for the Bruins, and will almost certainly be asked to score more with the departure of Shabazz Muhammed to the League. If Anderson gets more shots to fall, a dominant statistical season could be in the works.

5. Mike Moser, Oregon -
A tad undersized for the power forward position, Moser had a down season as he battled injuries at UNLV. In 2011-2012, he averaged a double-double for the Runnin' Rebels with 14.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per tilt. Moser transferred to Oregon and will be able to play right away for the Ducks. A man among boys in the post, Moser possesses the physicality and motor to make an instant impact in the Pac-12. If he can regain his form from two seasons ago, Moser will move back into the conversation regarding elite power forwards in college hoops.

6. Jerami Grant, Syracuse -
There are more minutes to go around this season in Syracuse, and Grant should be the chief beneficiary. A player in the mold of his uncle (Horace Grant) and his father (Harvey Grant), Jerami projects to be a force on the glass for the Orange. Grant averaged 3.0 rebounds in just 14.3 minutes per game last season as a freshman, numbers that both project to double. Grant also scored 3.9 points per contest and has a rapidly improving offensive arsenal. With good genes, Grant is a forced to be reckoned with for the Orange.

7. Chane Behanan, Louisville -
Behanan will be asked to shoulder much more of the rebounding load for the Cardinals with Gorgui Dieng moving on to the NBA. He grabbed 12 boards in Louisville's victory over the Michigan Wolverines to clinch the National Title. Behanan does all of his damage around the rim; what he lacks in height (6-6), he makes up for in strength and weight (250-lbs). Behanan is a handful to deal with in the post, shooting 50.7-percent from the field. With increased minutes, Behanan should consistently be in the double-double area this year.

8. Dwight Powell, Stanford -
Powell had by far his best season as a junior last year, averaging 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per tilt. The reason why Powell isn't higher on the list is that his ceiling is limited. Last season may be the best that Powell has to offer. Which certainly isn't awful, but he lacks the sex appeal of other players on this list. Powell is polished, steady and dependable on the offensive end, though is not much of a shot-blocker despite standing at 6-10.

9. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee -
It was tough to choose between Stokes and fellow frontcourt mate Jeronne Maymon, but since Maymon missed all of last season due to injury, Stokes gets the nod. Nevertheless, the tandem should make a formidable pair for UT in the SEC. Stokes is every bit of 6-8, 260-lbs, a man-child who shot 52.8-percent from the floor as a sophomore last year. He managed 12.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per tilt for the Vols. Stokes does all of his damage inside the three-point arc; while he does not shoot threes, he does have a decent mid-rage jump shot. Stokes has developing post moves but is best suited creating space and using his size and physical nature. Some more polish will make Stokes an extremely desirable product.

10. Jakarr Sampson, St. John's -
The Johnnies had a rough season last year, but Sampson was a bright spot. The 6-9, 215-pounder from Akron, Ohio averaged 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, largely due to his outrageous physical gifts. Sampson can play either forward position, and was a highly-touted defender coming out of high school. His length and athleticism make him incredibly disruptive on the defensive end, and he's willing to do the dirty work on the boards. He's still learning how to play within himself, but can jump out of the gym and is explosive around the rim. He needs some seasoning, but could be a big-time prospect if he ever develops an outside shot.

11. Jerrelle Benimon, Towson - 17.1 ppg, 11.2 rpg
12. Cory Jefferson, Baylor - 13.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg
13. Jamil Wilson, Marquette - 9.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg
14. Khem Birch UNLV - 7.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg
15. Noah Vonleh, Indiana - high school

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