October 29, 2011

Preseason power rankings: Point guards

Who said freshmen are taking over college basketball?

First-year players may be playing a greater role in the game with each passing season, but Rivals.com's ranking of the nation's top 20 points guards underscores the importance of having a senior to run the offense.

Wisconsin senior Jordan Taylor and Xavier senior Tu Holloway are the top two point guards in the preseason edition of the Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

Seniors filled five of the top nine spots in the point guard rankings.

Taylor is a textbook example of a senior who has stepped up his game every season. He averaged 1.6 points per game as freshman, increased his scoring average to 10.0 as a sophomore and got all the way up to 18.1 last season.

Taylor, a 6-foot-1 senior, also rarely makes mistakes. In Big Ten games last season, Taylor averaged one turnover for every 35.8 minutes of action.

[Related: Ahern: Taylor under the radar no more]

Holloway is a do-everything performer who had two triple-doubles last season for Xavier while leading the Atlantic 10 in assists and ranking second in the conference in scoring.

Our unveiling of the preseason power rankings continues Saturday with the release of our top 20 shooting guards.

The top 20 point guards
1. Jordan Taylor (6-1/195, Sr.), Wisconsin
His 3.83-1 assist-turnover ratio last season led the nation and was the fourth-highest total in NCAA history. Taylor also averaged 18.1 points per game overall and 20.1 points per game in Big Ten competition. Taylor gets the job done on both ends of the floor, as he made the Big Ten's all-defensive team last season.
2. Tu Holloway (6-0/190, Sr.), Xavier
One of the nation's ultimate stat-sheet stuffers, Holloway averaged 19.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.4 steals last season. He had two triple-doubles and was one rebound away from getting a third.
3. Maalik Wayns (6-2/200, Jr.), Villanova
This ranking admittedly is a leap of faith based on Villanova's ability to churn out exceptional point guards. Wayns averaged 13.8 points and 4.4 assists last season, but he should take over a starring role this season. We're betting he can pick up right where Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher left off.
4. Kendall Marshall (6-4/195, Soph.), North Carolina
North Carolina's second-half surge last season coincided with Marshall's addition to the starting lineup. Marshall led the ACC with 6.2 assists per game last season and had 2 1/2 times as many assists as turnovers in conference action.
5. Marquis Teague (6-2/189, Fr.), Kentucky
Rated as the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2011 recruiting class, Teague should continue Kentucky coach John Calipari's tradition of outstanding freshman point guards. The former Indianapolis Pike star was one of five finalists for the Naismith Award given annually to the nation's top high school player.
6. Matthew Dellavedova (6-4/190, Jr.), Saint Mary's
Dellavedova averaged 13.4 points and 5.3 assists last season to earn first-team All-West Coast Conference honors before spending the summer with the Australian National Team.
7. Tyshawn Taylor (6-3/185, Sr.), Kansas
This will mark Taylor's fourth season as a starter. He averaged 9.3 points and ranked fourth in the Big 12 with 4.6 assists per game last season.
8. Scoop Jardine (6-2/190, Sr.), Syracuse
Jardine averaged 12.5 points per game and ranked second in the Big East with 5.9 assists per game last season. He spent the summer playing for Team USA in the World University Games.
9. Dee Bost (6-2/176, Sr.), Mississippi State
Although he played in only 17 games last season, Bost averaged 15.3 points and 6.2 assists. He would have led the SEC in assists by a wide margin if he had played in enough games to qualify for the league statistics.
10. Aaron Craft (6-2/190, Soph.), Ohio State
Craft doesn't score much, but he's an outstanding distributor and defender. Craft averaged 6.9 points and ranked fifth in the Big Ten in assists (4.8) and led the league in steals (1.97) as a freshman.
11. Damian Lillard (6-3/195, Jr.), Weber State
After earning first-team All-Big Sky honors as a freshman and being named the Big Sky Conference MVP as a sophomore, Lillard played just nine games last season before getting knocked out by a foot injury. Lillard is healthy again and should regain his status as one of the nation's top low-major performers.
12. Jorge Gutierrez (6-3/195, Sr.), California
Gutierrez earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors last season. He also has made the league's all-defensive team in back-to-back seasons. He averaged 14.6 points and had 54 steals last season to lead the Bears in both categories.
13. Durand Scott (6-5/202, Jr.), Miami
Scott can do a little bit of everything. He averaged 13.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 steals last season. He also has improved his 3-point and free-throw shooting since the start of his college career.
14. Josiah Turner (6-3/192, Fr.), Arizona
Rated the No. 11 overall prospect in the 2011 recruiting class, Turner should waste no time emerging as one of the Pac-12's top guards. Although he grew up in Sacramento, Calif., he spent his senior year helping Winston-Salem (N.C.) Quality Education Academy win a third consecutive National Christian School Athletic Association title.
15. Peyton Siva (6-0/180, Jr.), Louisville
Siva ranked fourth in the Big East in assists (5.2) and second in the league in steals (2.0) last season. He showed his flair for the dramatic by making huge shots down the stretch in wins over Connecticut and West Virginia.
16. Ray McCallum (6-2/188, Soph.), Detroit
McCallum, a former McDonald's All-American and the son of Detroit coach Ray McCallum Sr., led his team in scoring (13.5), assists (4.9) and steals (54) as a freshman. He played for Team USA in the World University Games this summer.
17. D.J. Cooper (5-11/165, Jr.), Ohio
Cooper ranked third in the nation in assists (7.5) and also averaged 15.8 points and 5.0 rebounds last season. Cooper must work at improving his shooting accuracy and reducing his turnovers, but he remains one of the game's top playmakers.
18. Casper Ware (5-10/175, Sr.), Long Beach State
Ware's the first Big West performer ever to be named conference overall player of the year and defensive player of the year in the same season. He averaged 17.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.7 steals last season.
19. Myck Kabongo (6-1/169, Fr.), Texas
This former McDonald's All-American was the No. 26 overall prospect in the 2011 recruiting class. He should add his name to the growing list of Texas point guards who had productive freshman seasons.
20. Erving Walker (5-8/177, Sr.), Florida
Walker's toughness makes up for his lack of size. He has earned second-team All-SEC honors two consecutive seasons and averaged 14.6 points, 3.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds last season. He has a knack for hitting big shots with the game on the line.

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Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can follow him on Twitter.


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