Russ Smith tops list of clutch guards
Great scorers find a way to get the job done.
These aren’t one-dimensional players who take 3-pointers or jump shots. These are the players you want to have the ball in their hands when the game is on the line.
They’ll create their own shot, they’ll take a jumper, they’ll drive to the basket or they’ll get to free throw line.
Leading the way in our superlatives in this category is Russ Smith. The Louisville guard still plays wild at times on both ends of the court, but those tendencies have been channeled to make him one of the most dynamic and entertaining players in the country for 2013-14. A player not normally linked with efficiency, he was named the kenpom.com Player of the Year for his offensive metrics and role in the Cardinals’ defense.
Our list of the nation’s best scorers is 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 Scorers|
Russ Smith, Louisville
Smith could make the case as the nation’s most valuable players last season and one of the most improved. He became more involved in the offense yet his shooting efficiency numbers went up. He’s also adept at getting to the free throw line, shooting 80.4 percent.
Tyler Haws, BYU
Haws returned from an LDS mission to average 21.7 points per game. He may need to put up Jimmer-like numbers this season as BYU will have a depleted roster. A scary thought: This is the first time he’s gone through a full offseason program.
Semaj Christon, Xavier
Christon is primed to break out on the national scene after playing through an elbow injury for a subpar Xavier team last season. He still averaged 15.2 points and 4.6 assists. You’ll get to know him thanks to a year of experience and Big East exposure.
Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
Kilpatrick is a rarity in college basketball: The fifth-year senior. His experience will be an asset for the Bearcats, as will his scoring touch. He averaged 17 points per game, but they weren’t terribly efficient (14.4 field goal attempts per game).
Jordan Adams, UCLA
His injury late in the season was considered devastating to the Bruins’ postseason hopes. Despite Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson on the roster, Adams may have been the most valuable freshman, averaging 15.3 points per game.
Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
Brown started out as a dunker, but he made major strides last season to become a more complete scorer. The senior averaged 15.3 points, raising his efficiency numbers across the board.
Bryce Cotton, Providence
A good enough scorer to give a dogged defender like Russ Smith fits, Cotton led the Big East at 19.7 points per game. He started his season as the point guard but was too valuable a scorer to be a distributor.
C.J. Wilcox, Washington
Wilcox may be the best pure shooter in the Pac-12 and will be the key player on a team looking to return to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence. More consistent point guard play will help.
Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Napier is the most valuable member of one of the nation’s best backcourts. A bit player on UConn’s 2011 national championship team, Napier showed plenty of clutch play as a junior when he averaged 17.1 points per game.
Tim Frazier, Penn State
Winning basketball games isn’t easy for Penn State, particularly when the Nittany Lions’ best player goes down with a Achilles’ injury in November. Frazier returns this season after averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists in his last healthy season.
OTHER SCORER SUPERLATIVES
Key veteran: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Super sophomore: Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
Breakout to watch: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
NIT to the big time: Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa