Today Jon Rothstein, whose work I actually really like for the most part, wrote Ten Mid-Major Guards to Watch Next Season on CBS New York. It’s worth noting that he didn’t explicitly say the 10 best, but, considering he ranked them 1-10, it is sort of implied. Most of the names on the list make a ton of sense. I mean Isiah Canaan was a Second Team All-American last season and has his own Wikipedia page. I think he deserves to be #1. But some of the other names on the list make me think I’ve slipped into an episode of Punk’d.
For one thing, there are two Drexel players amongst the 10 players. The Dragons didn’t even make the NCAA tournament last season. Now they have two of the ten best mid-major guards in the nation? I don’t think so. Frank Massenat is a special talent, but I doubt he’s the second best mid-major guard in America. Also, Damion Lee wasn’t one of the 15 best players in the CAA last season according to the all-league awards and now he’s a top 10 player nationally? No way.
But neither of those guys is the biggest question mark. Nope, that dubious honor belongs to Juan’Ya Green. I saw Niagara play quite a few times on television and in person last season. Green is a nice scorer. He’s going to develop and lead a team that could take a step up the MAAC standings, but he’s at best the third most talented guard in the MAAC. (Behind George Beamon and Momo Jones.) There’s no way Green should’ve been on this list.
If you’re going to mock a list though you have to present your own. Otherwise it isn’t really fair. Here’s my go at picking the Top 10 Mid-Major guards in America, plus five honorable mentions.
- Isaiah Canaan – Murray State
- C.J. McCollum – Lehigh
- Ray McCallum – Detroit
- Nate Wolters – South Dakota State
- D.J. Cooper – Ohio
- Shane Gibson – Sacred Heart
- Frank Massenat – Drexel
- Matthew Dellavedova – St. Mary’s
- Velton Jones – Robert Morris
- George Beamon – Manhattan
Honorable Mentions: Dylan Garrity (Sacramento St.), Brian Barbour (Columbia), Kerron Johnson (Belmont), Will Cherry (Montana), Kendrick Perry (Youngstown State)
Yes, you have to make some tough choices to make a list like this. LIU Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman and Delaware’s Jarvis Threatt were the last two players I took off the list. There’s a ton of other names that I considered too, including Indiana State’s Jake Odum (Updated: Rayvonte Rice transferred to Illinois from Drake so he’s not eligible anymore), but in the end I think these 15 players represent the best combination of production in 2011-12 and potential for 2012-13. There are two NEC players on this list, but both deserve to be there. Gibson is the most efficient basketball player you will ever see on a not-so-good team. Every time he touches the ball he’s a threat. If Sacred Heart was better, people like Matt Norlander would be gaga for Gibson like they are for Wolters. Jones is the heart and soul of RMU. He’s the reason they made the NEC finals again last season and he’s the reason the Colonials will be right back in the thick of things. (And his numbers are better than you think.)
The other thing I’ll probably get cries of “homer” about is putting Barbour on this list. I firmly believe that he’s an Ivy League Player of the Year candidate in 2012-13. If he’s the best player in the Ivy League, then he’s definitely one of the best mid-major guards in the country in my mind.
It’s crazy we’re having debates like this in the middle of May, but hey… The season is coming and there’s no reason to stop talking.