Arizona State's Jahii Carson is near top of list of elite floor leaders
Perhaps the two names atop Athlon Sports’ list of point guards and floor leaders for the 2013-14 season says something about how the year will transpire.
Oklahoma State and Arizona State are not likely candidates to have the nation’s best point guards, but Marcus Smart and Jahii Carson are not your average sophomores. And the best part about these two names is that both guards are drastically different. Smart is a 6-4 guard who can rebound while Carson is a 5-10 speedster.
The first blue blood program on the list is Kentucky with Andrew Harrison, who follows in the footsteps of other one-and-done point guards to play for John Calipari. He should improve a position that was a major liability in Kentucky’s failed bid to defend its national title in the NCAA Tournament.
Our list of the nation’s best point guards is the first 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.
|2013-14 Superlatives: Top Floor Leaders|
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Jahii Carson, Arizona State
The speedy point guard reversed fortunes for Herb Sendek and Arizona State by leading the Sun Devils to the NIT. Carson led all freshmen nationally in scoring (18.5 points per game) and became the first freshman in 20 years to top 18.5 points and 5.1 assists.
Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
In 2012-13, John Calipari lacked a dynamic point guard for the first time since the Derrick Rose days at Memphis. That will change this season with Harrison arriving on campus. The freshman from Fort Bend, Texas, is another big, athletic point guard who will put his name with guys like Rose and John Wall.
Aaron Craft, Ohio State
If you’ve watched the least bit of college basketball the last three seasons, you’re familiar with Craft: He’s a consummate leader and floor general and an intense defender. And as Iowa State learned in the NCAA Tournament, he can nail the big-time 3-pointer.
Keith Appling, Michigan State
Appling may be under more pressure than any point guard on our list. The Spartans are a national title contender, but Appling needs to take the next step in his development. He improved his decision-making late last season when he led Michigan State in scoring (13.4 ppg).
Joe Jackson, Memphis
Jackson may go down as one of the top players in Memphis history after improving each his first three seasons. His biggest improvement last season was improving form long range from 30.2 percent to 44.7 percent in 22 more attempts.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
Dinwiddie has been the backbone of Tad Boyle’s reclamation project at Colorado, starting every game the last two seasons. Dinwiddie got to the free throw line 240 times last season, converting 82.5 percent of the time.
Kyle Anderson, UCLA
This will be one of the most intriguing positions to watch as the 6-9 Anderson takes more point guard duties with Larry Drew II gone from the Bruins. He’s not your typical point guard, but the Swiss Army Knife is a floor leader/floor general/point forward nonetheless.
Yogi Ferrell, Indiana
Ferrell had the unenviable task last season stepping into the point guard role on a preseason No. 1 team featuring highly touted veterans. With Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo and others gone, Ferrell is now the veteran on a young team. His 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio shows he’s up to the task.
Chaz Williams, UMass
Williams is the centerpiece for UMass’ up-tempo offense/pressure defense philosophy. The Minutemen expect to be in NCAA Tournament contention with Williams running the point, which he does superbly. Williams scored or assistant on 48.7 percent of UMass’ field goals last season.
More point guard superlatives
Freshman to watch: Nigel Williams-Goss, Washington
Transfer to watch: T.J. McConnell, Arizona (from Duquesne)
Seventh-year seniors: Grant Gibbs, Creighton, and Jake Odum, Indiana State
Returning from injury: Tim Frazier, Penn State
Mid-major star: Siyani Chambers, Harvard
Best you don’t know yet: Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette