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The Top 20 Players in the 2015 Final Four


During the next few days, many of the headlines for this Final Four will surround the powerhouse programs and Mount Rushmore of coaches who will vie for the national title.

All of that is true. Rarely has the Final Four had this many accomplished names on the jerseys and the bench.

The players, though, are just as big in terms of star power.

Three members of the first-team AP All-America team are still playing. Nine potential first-round draft picks also will be on the court.

Who are the best of the best? We’ll try to take a look, obviously tilting toward each player's college production and performance in this NCAA Tournament.

1. Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

The National Player of the Year contender is coming off a 29-point performance against Arizona. In last year’s Final Four, Kentucky held him to eight points on seven shots from the field and no free throws.

2. Justise Winslow, Duke

Winslow has spent most of the season splitting headlines with Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones. In the NCAA Tournament, though, Winslow has arguably been Duke’s best player in the postseason for his multi-faceted play. Winslow is averaging 14 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and better than 1.5 steals and blocks per game in the last four games.

3. Jahlil Okafor, Duke

Okafor has spent most of the season as the presumptive No. 1 overall draft pick with good reason. Opponents have worked to take him out, and that was successful to a degree in the regional. Okafor topped 20 points in the first two games and then 15 total points in the regional on 7-of-16 shooting against Utah and Gonzaga.

4. Willie Cauley-Stein, Kentucky

It says a ton about this Kentucky team that the Wildcats remain undefeated and are heading to the Final Four without a double-digit scoring game from Cauley-Stein in the Tournament. He’s still Kentucky’s MVP with his defensive game at the rim and on the perimeter.

5. Sam Dekker, Wisconsin

The junior had the best games of his career in the West regional against North Carolina and Arizona, twice setting career highs with 23 and 24 points. He had only six career 20-point games entering this Tournament, but he’s averaging 21.8 points in the last four games.

6. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky

Towns has been arguably Kentucky’s best player the last two months of the season, averaging 12.6 points and 7.3 rebounds per game since Jan. 31. Towns was unstoppable around the basket for 25 points in the Elite Eight against Notre Dame.

7. Tyus Jones, Duke

Jones has been the playmaker in the Tournament he was all season. He’s averaging 11.5 points and 5.5 assists in the last four games, while playing his most efficient basketball all of the year (3.7 assists per turnover).

8. Quinn Cook, Duke

The emotional and senior leader for Duke, Cook is averaging a career-high (by far) 15.5 points per game this season.

9. Aaron Harrison, Kentucky

The Wildcats’ most clutch shooter still has the magic touch. He hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:18 to go as Kentucky beat Notre Dame in the Elite Eight.

10. Travis Trice, Michigan State

No player’s emergence in the NCAA Tournament has been more instrumental for the Spartans than Trice's. He’s averaging 15.4 points for the season, but he’s averaging 19.8 points per game. His free throw shooting (16-of-18) has been critical.

11. Branden Dawson, Michigan State

The Spartans have needed Dawson to be the do-it-all player to reach this point of the season. He doesn’t have to score as much as a Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine, but his rebounding has been critical. Dawson is averaging 9.3 boards per game in the Tournament and had the key rebound to seal the win over Louisville in the Elite Eight.

12. Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin

The 6-foot-7 sophomore is a solid No. 3 scorer for the Badgers (12.3 ppg in the Tournament) and No. 1 for stenographers and lady reporters.

13. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky

Harrison has averaged 9.8 points and 2.3 assists per game in the Tournament.

14. Denzel Valentine, Michigan State

After a 1-of-6 performance against Virginia in the round of 32, Valentine went 13-of-32 from the field in the regional against Oklahoma and Louisville.

15. Bronson Koenig, Wisconsin

Koenig averaged 11.4 points per game after starting point guard Traevon Jackson was hurt in January. He averaged 4.9 points per game before then.

16. Tyler Ulis, Kentucky

Kentucky’s smallest player (5-foot-9) may be its best distributor. Ulis has 14 assists, six steals and four turnovers in the Tournament.

17. Trey Lyles, Kentucky

He’s the third big man on a team with Towns and Cauley-Stein, but he’s embracing his role and making the most of his opportunities. He’s 16-of-36 from the field in the Tournament with 11 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

18. Devin Booker, Kentucky

Kentucky’s best jumpshooter shook off an ineffective first and second round to hit 9-of-14 shots in the regional, including 4-of-8 from 3.

19. Josh Gasser, Wisconsin

Gasser hasn’t scored in double figures once since Feb. 3, but he’s a glue guy who gives the Badgers a little bit of everything.

20. Matt Jones, Duke

Jones has moved into the starting lineup after the dismissal of Rasheed Sulaimon. He’s a complementary player, but he’s proven he can hit the big 3 when necessary (4-of-7 from 3 against Gonzaga).