Breaking down the players to know heading into the 2017-18 college basketball season:
Five you already know
Grayson Allen, Duke: From Final Four hero to college basketball’s biggest lightning rod, Allen is probably the sport’s most recognizable player. He’s now (finally) a senior and will be counted upon to bounce back after a tumultuous junior year.
Joel Berry II, North Carolina: He’ll miss time at the beginning of the season with a broken hand suffered off the court. But on the court: most outstanding player of a Final Four? Check. ACC tournament MVP? Check. National champion? Check. There’s not much the Tar Heels’ lead guard hasn’t accomplished in his career.
Miles Bridges, Michigan State: The college game gets Bridges for a second season, and that bodes well for the sport in general and Tom Izzo’s team in particular. The forward should be on any shortlist for potential players of the year.
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame: It’s hard to find a 6-foot-5 high-major big man as effective as the Irish senior, but he’s as much fun to watch operate as any player in the country. Improved range makes him even more dangerous.
Allonzo Trier, Arizona: After an abbreviated sophomore year, Trier is back in Tucson and the best argument in favor of the Wildcats breaking through for the first Final Four under Coach Sean Miller.
Five who you’ll learn more about
Jalen Brunson, Villanova: He’s gone from a key contributor on a national championship team as a freshman to the Wildcats’ second option behind Big East player of the year Josh Hart last season. It’s now Brunson’s show to run after Hart’s graduation.
Jevon Carter, West Virginia: The Mountaineers get a lot of attention for their “Press Virginia” scheme that discombobulates opponents, but it helps to have a relentless and skilled presence leading the way at both ends. That’s Carter.
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall: The nation’s top rebounder a season ago, Delgado flirted with turning pro before opting to remain in South Orange – much to the chagrin of Big East foes who must deal with the walking double-double for another year.
Devonte’ Graham, Kansas: The Jayhawks won’t replace Frank Mason III with one guy, but Graham’s going to handle a lot of the responsibilities the first team all-American held a season ago.
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin: With Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig’s time done in Madison, the Badgers will play through their junior center even more this season. He’s a good bet to lead Wisconsin in rebounds and assists (again) as well as points.
Five to know outside the power five
Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies will have one of the nation’s most potent backcourts thanks to Adams and Matt Mobley. Adams was the only Division I player to rank in the top 25 in scoring and top 10 in assists last season.
Cane Broome, Cincinnati: The Northeast Conference’s player of the year two seasons ago at Sacred Heart, Broome transferred up, sat out a year and now will play a big role in pushing the Bearcats to a faster pace – and possibly a deep run in March.
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier: You should already know him and you’ll hear a lot more about him. So here’s a third category the Musketeers’ top scorer from a year ago fits: He’s a tough wing with the potential to drop 30 points on any night.
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s: The 6-11 Aussie took a major step forward last season, averaging 16.9 points and 9.5 rebounds, and he’ll need to play a large role if the Gaels are to slip past Gonzaga atop the West Coast Conference this year.
Landry Shamet, Wichita State: Last year’s Missouri Valley freshman of the year emerged as a stabilizing force on a 31-5 team that brings nearly everyone back as the Shockers move into the American Athletic Conference.
DeAndre Ayton, Arizona: The 7-1 native of the Bahamas gives the Wildcats the sort of interior presence that most eventual national champions need. He’ll serve as a post finisher and rim protector, with the ability to step out and hit jump shots as well.
Marvin Bagley III, Duke: A late addition to the Blue Devils after announcing plans to reclassify to the recruiting class of 2017 in August, Bagley will be one of the top prospects in next year’s NBA draft. First, he’ll try to lead Duke to its sixth national title.
Mohamed Bamba, Texas: The biggest get yet for Shaka Smart since he arrived in Austin, Bamba is yet another big poised to make an impact in what could (probably will?) be his only year in college.
Hamidou Diallo, Kentucky: He enrolled in the middle of last season, then opted to play with the Wildcats as a redshirt freshman rather than turn pro. He’ll be a mainstay in a young (even by Kentucky standards) backcourt.
Michael Porter Jr., Missouri: There’s enough recent history to wonder whether a likely one-and-done can instantly transform a struggling program (see: Ben Simmons at Louisiana State, Markelle Fultz at Washington and Dennis Smith Jr. at N.C. State). But Porter’s going to have help from a lauded class as he tries to help resuscitate the beleaguered Tigers.
Five stars from one-bid leagues
Chris Clemons, Campbell: Whatever demarcation happens to be on the floor – the three-point stripe, half-court, the volleyball lines in some low-major gyms – it’s within Clemons’s range. Last season he averaged 25.1 points as a sophomore and dropped 51 points in a Big South tournament game.
Mike Daum, South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits came on strong last year, especially after the 6-9 Daum (25.1 ppg, 8.1 rpg) began playing more on the perimeter after encountering double- and triple-teams inside. He’ll be one of the nation’s top scorers.
Tyler Hall, Montana State: The junior guard averaged 23.1 points while ranking third in the country with 3.75 three-pointers per game. His next task is a tough one – pushing the Bobcats out of the middle of the Big Sky pack and into the NCAA tournament for the first time in more than 20 years.
Kendrick Nunn, Oakland: The Illinois transfer, who averaged 15.5 points two years ago for the Illini, will take over as the Golden Grizzlies’ lead guard after sitting out last year. That’s the same role do-it-all star Kay Felder filled two years ago for the Horizon League contenders.
Giddy Potts, Middle Tennessee: The senior guard does just about everything, and he’s helped the Blue Raiders win NCAA tournament games in back-to-back seasons. While his shooting slipped some last year, the 6-2 Potts averaged 15.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 steals.
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