Sparty's Adreian Payne looks to make run to Final Four
The top three names in our list of inside-out players for 2013-14 each have something to prove.
Creighton’s Doug McDermott returned for his senior season with an opportunity to lead his father’s team in its first season in the Big East. Instead of facing Drake, Bradley and Southern Illinois, he’ll face Georgetown, Villanova and Marquette on a regular basis.
Adreian Payne could have made the leap to the NBA, but Michigan State hasn’t been to the Final Four in the last three seasons in what constitutes a drought for the Spartans.
And Jabari Parker is the superstar freshman who’s gone toe-to-toe with Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins in the AAU circuit. Wiggins may is the No. 1 freshman and the presumptive top pick in the NBA Draft, but Parker will get a crack at him on Nov. 12.
Our list of the nation’s best inside-out players is the one in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.
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|2013-14 Superlatives: Top Inside-Out Threats|
|1.||Doug McDermott, Creighton|
The return of McDermott turns Creighton into an instant contender for the Big East title. If you’re wondering if McDermott was the product of the Missouri Valley, consider that he averaged 26 points in nine games against top-50 RPI teams, including 41 against Final Four-bound Wichita State.
|2.||Adreian Payne, Michigan State|
Like Gary Harris, Payne returned to Michigan State to compete for a national championship. A year ago, he was one of the most improved players in the country thanks to his pick-and-pop shooting. He averaged 10.5 points and 7.6 rebounds while making 38.1 percent of his 42 3-point shots.
|3.||Jabari Parker, Duke|
Andrew Wiggins and Kentucky’s haul of freshmen are getting more attention, but Parker is in a similar category. Described as a Swiss Army knife kind of a player, Parker will be a matchup nightmare with his versatility, athleticism and scoring ability. He could flourish from any spot on the floor.
|4.||Rodney Hood, Duke|
Mike Krzyzewski hasn’t taken many transfers at Duke, but all three before Hood have been major contributors. Expect the Mississippi State import to follow suit. He and Parker will be an interchangeable and dangerous twosome for the ACC favorites.
|5.||Dwight Powell, Stanford|
Powell averaged 14.9 points and 8.4 rebounds last season, but Stanford may need more from him to escape the NIT. Cardinal coach Johnny Dawkins would like to see him play more aggressively in his final season.
|6.||Aaron Gordon, Arizona|
The top newcomer in the Pac-12 turns the Wildcats into a legitimate Final Four contender. Gordon is in a class with Parker, Wiggins and Kentucky’s freshmen with his ability to play any spot on the floor. He’ll play small forward for Arizona but could easily play closer to the basket.
|7.||C.J. Fair, Syracuse|
The outlook for Syracuse improved dramatically when Fair elected to return to school. The steady senior led the Orange in scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (seven) while making 46.9 percent of his 3-pointers. One star among a handful last season, he’ll need to take on a lead role for a team that can win the ACC title.
|8.||Ryan Anderson, Boston College|
One of the core members of Steve Donahue’s rebuilding effort at Boston College, Anderson anchors the frontcourt in a perimeter-oriented lineup. The 6-9 junior has been to the free throw line 287 times the last two seasons, converting 64.1 percent of the time.
|9.||LaQuinton Ross, Ohio State|
Ross took off in the NCAA Tournament, becoming the second scorer Ohio State sorely needed to complement Deshaun Thomas. Now, he’ll need to be the No. 1 option. Ross averaged 15 points per game in four NCAA Tournament games while playing just over 20 minutes per game.
|10.||JaKarr Sampson, St. John’s|
Sampson stepped in as a freshman and led a talent frontcourt by averaging 14.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. Expect him to lead the way again as St. John’s makes a bid to return to the NCAA Tournament.
Other Inside-Out Superlatives:
Freshman to watch: Preston “Chicken” Knowles, Houston
Junior college transfer to watch: Jonathan Holton, West Virginia
On the spot: T.J. Warren, NC State
Breakout candidate: Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh
Underrated: Jamil Wilson, Marquette