Wednesday, 14 February 2007

My Favorite College Basketball Players to Watch

I've noticed that like probably everyone, there are a few guys that I really enjoy watching play more than others. One note though before I list them... when I played basketball in high school I was a guard, so in general I tend to unconsciously follow guard play more closely. But still, some big men do make the cut. Here's the list, in no particular order, and a short reason why I like watching them play.

Kevin Durant (Texas) - This one is pretty much just a given now. Silky smooth offensively, great rebounder, improving defensively, and the #1 Player of the Year candidate right now. What's not to like?

Acie Law IV (Texas A&M) - One obvious reason is that he has been asbolutely money in the clutch all season long. But I like watching him for other reasons... he makes good decisions, he's a good passer, and there is no one else in the country that is better at absorbing the foul and finishing strong at the rim with either hand.

Mike Conley (Ohio St.) - I've rambled on about him before, but just one more time here, because I love his game and think he gets overlooked with the other Buckeyes freshmen. As a true freshmen, he leads the Big 10 in assists (with 6.3 per game), is very solid with the ball (only about 2 TPG), and takes good shots. He is poised well beyond his years at the PG position.

Chris Lofton (Tennessee) - Obviously he's a fantastic shooter with loads of range. But even though he has the ball a lot and Tennessee plays in a fast-paced offense, he doesn't force bad shots up and he doesn't turn the ball over.

Jarrius Jackson (Texas Tech) - Jackson might be the best player in the country moving without the ball. With the ball, he's also great fun to watch. He has sort of a herky-jerky motion when dribbling which makes it tough for the defense to read what he's going to do. He's got a great midrange game (which he showcased at the buzzer yesterday), his 3-point shot is solid, and he can go on a scoring surge at any time.

Arron Afflalo (UCLA) - Afflalo is another guy that is great at moving without the ball. He can come up screens very quickly and sharply, turn, square up, and bury the jumper while the defender is still fighting to get through the screen. In addition, he's one of the best perimeter defenders in the NCAA. He's got the all-around game that makes it fun to watch him play on both ends of the court.

Randal Falker (Southern Illinois) - The numbers aren't eye-popping, but he does the little things necessary for the Salukis to win. He takes high-percentage shots (60.8% FG), rebounds well, and is the anchor for the best defense in the country. Again, 13 PPG and 7.5 RPG aren't spectacular, but the Salukis are nowhere near the team they are now without Falker.

Jeremy Pargo (Gonzaga) - Pargo is athletic, quick off the dribble, and a tenacious all-around player. Even though he is only 6'2'', he's got a very nice all-around game and has improved his stroke this year. He's averaging over 12 PPG, 4 RPG, and 4.7 APG while shooting over 50% from the field. With Josh Heytvelt suspended for a while, Pargo becomes even more important if the Zags are going to make the Tourney.

Jared Dudley (Boston College) - We all know the story on Dudley... he was lightly recruited, but Al Skinner brought him in and as so often happens under Skinner, Dudley has thrived. He's become the best player in the ACC this season, and has the all-around game that is fun to watch. He's great on the block where he can use the strength and quickness, but he can also take bigger men off the dribble or shoot the outside jumper. But when defenses are too focused on him, he's good passer as well. All of this is reflected in the numbers... 20 PPG, 9 RPG, 3.2 APG. He's also shooting 59% from the field and 50% from the 3-point line.

So that said, who are your favorite players to watch?