Skip to content

2012-13 Preview: Top 15 Backcourts

Oct 24, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

spt-120102-philpressey Getty Images

Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

In the latest installment in our college basketball preview series it’s time to take a look at some of the best backcourts in America. Guard play is a focus of analysts every March, and with the disappearance of the true center over the years it should come as no surprise that many of the teams that make waves have superior guards. Below are the top 15 backcourts in the country heading into the 2012-13 season, with some honorable mentions as well.

1. Missouri
Players: Phil Pressey, Michael Dixon Jr., Keion Bell, Earnest Ross, Negus Webster-Chan, Dominique Bull, Jabari Brown*

Two starters, Michael Dixon Jr. and preseason SEC Player of the Year Phil Pressey, are back in Columbia and they’ll be joined by a talented cast of newcomers. Earnest Ross (Auburn), Keion Bell (Pepperdine) and Jabari Brown (Oregon; eligible at the end of the fall semester) all have college experience and will be called upon to contribute. Missouri may not have been the pick to win the SEC, but this group makes the Tigers more than capable of doing so.

2. Michigan
Players: Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr., Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Caris LeVert, Spike Albrecht

Burke was an honorable mention All-American and Big Ten Freshman of the Year last season, leading the team in both points and assists. Hardaway was Michigan’s second-leading scorer in 2011-12, and if he can raise his three-point percentage (28.7%) the junior will be even more productive offensively. If the freshmen are ready to contribute this becomes an even tougher group to deal with.

3. San Diego State
Players: Xavier Thames, Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley, James Rahon

Franklin, who was Mountain West Player of the Year, led the way with averages of 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game with Tapley not too far behind at 15.8 ppg. Thames runs the show for SDSU, as his 4.1 assists per game led the team and he finished in the top 10 in the Mountain West in both assists and assist-turnover ratio. Add in Rahon and you’ve got a group that can lead Steve Fisher’s program a long way in 2012-13.

4. Baylor
Players: Pierre Jackson, Brady Heslip, A.J. Walton, Deuce Bello, Gary Franklin, L.J. Rose

Leading the way is Jackson (13.8 ppg, 5.9 apg), who was a Cousy Award finalist and All-Big 12 selection in 2011-12. Baylor also welcomes back sharpshooter Brady Heslip, whose marksmanship played an important role in the Bears’ March run. Walton’s the glue guy of the group while in Bello the Bears have an outstanding athlete who will certainly help them out defensively (if and when his offensive skill set becomes more refined, look out).

5. Louisville
Players: Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Kevin Ware, Wayne Blackshear

Siva’s improved play in March was a big reason why the Cardinals won the Big East tournament, and Smith can have some “Russdiculous” moments his ability to score is something the Cardinals can’t do without. Blackshear and Ware are two skilled players who will figure prominently in the Louisville attack after having limited roles last season due to injury.

6. Notre Dame
Players: Eric Atkins, Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton, Scott Martin

While it’s Atkins who initiates the offense for the Fighting Irish it was Grant who led the team in assists last season. Grant posted averages of 12.3 points and 5.0 assists per game with Atkins not far behind at 12.1 and 4.1. Add in an experienced veteran who can both knock down perimeter shots and hit the boards in Scott Martin (9.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and a good shooter in sophomore Pat Connaughton and you’ve got a quartet fit to challenge just about anyone in the country much less the Big East.

7. Memphis
Players: Joe Jackson, Chris Crawford, Antonio Barton, Geron Johnson, Damien Wilson

Jackson averaged 11.0 points and 3.8 assists per game last season, and both are numbers that can increase in 2012-13 provided he’s matured as a floor general. The experience of seniors Antonio Barton and Chris Crawford will help matter for Memphis, with the latter coming off of a season in which he led the Tigers in assists. The wild card: that would be junior college transfer Geron Johnson, who hasn’t always made the right decisions off the court.

8. NC State
Players: Lorenzo Brown, Scott Wood, Rodney Purvis, Tyler Lewis

While Wood is listed on the official roster as a forward his role is often that of a perimeter player so that’s why he’s on here. The senior was one of the ACC’s best shooters last season, as he knocked down 41% of his shots from beyond the arc. The other returnee is Lorenzo Brown, who is arguably the best point guard in the ACC. Add in a pair of McDonald’s All Americans in Lewis and Purvis and you’ve got a very talented quartet.

9. Cincinnati
Players: Cashmere Wright, Sean Kilpatrick, JaQuon Parker, Ge’Lawn Guyn, Jeremiah Davis III

Wright led the team in assists last season (4.6 apg) and finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio better than 2-to-1, and with forward Yancy Gates and guard Dion Dixon gone it’s likely that the senior is asked to do more scoring-wise. Kilpatrick was outstanding throughout for Cincinnati, averaging a team-high 14.3 ppg and shooting 43% from the field. Parker was one reason why Cincinnati was able to adjust to a smaller lineup as he averaged nearly six rebounds per game, and that’s something they’ll likely do again this year.

10. Florida State
Players: Michael Snaer, Ian Miller, Terry Whisnant II, Montay Brandon, Aaron Thomas, Devon Bookert

One big reason why FSU should return to the Big Dance is the return of senior guard Michael Snaer, who led the team in scoring and is also one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. He’ll be joined by point guard Ian Miller, who averaged more than ten points per game off the bench in 24 games. The depth will be provided by Terry Whisnant II, who didn’t see much playing time due to the presence of Dulkys and Loucks, and three freshmen led by Montay Brandon.

11. Indiana
Players: Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey, Maurice Creek, Remi Abell, Yogi Ferrell

Hulls is the most experienced member of the rotation while Oladipo is a flat-out pest defensively. Oladipo made great strides offensively from his freshman to sophomore season, and a similar jump could land him among the best guards in the Big Ten. Add in Sheehey, who averaged 8.5 points per game last year, and you’ve got a solid trio to begin with. Adding Ferrell and Creek to this group is a plus, provided Creek remains healthy.

12. New Mexico
Players: Kendall Williams, Tony Snell, Jamal Fenton, Hugh Greenwood, Demetrius Walker, Cleveland Thomas

Losing Drew Gordon in the paint definitely hurts, but the return of four guards who played a major role in last year’s championship season is why no one should disregard New Mexico in the Mountain West race. Kendall Williams is UNM’s leading returnee in both scoring and assists while Tony Snell ranked among the Lobos’ most consistent players last season. Jamal Fenton and Hugh Greenwood are back to handle the duties at the point, and by the end of last season it looked as if Demetrius Walker began to figure things out offensively.

13. Gonzaga
Players: Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr., David Stockton, Michael Hart, Guy Landri Edi, Drew Barham

Pangos, who was the WCC Freshman of the Year, led Gonzaga in both points and assists last season and finished with an offensive rating of 120 (per statsheet.com). He’ll be joined in the starting lineup by Bell Jr., who was another of Gonzaga’s double figure scorers in 2011-12 (they had four total). David Stockton rarely makes mistakes when running the point, which affords Pangos the opportunity to work off the ball on occasion. And keep an eye on Landri Edi in his second season in the program.

14. Drexel
Players: Frantz Massenat, Damion Lee, Chris Fouch, Aquil Younger

Massenat is the early favorite to win CAA Player of the Year, and he led the Dragons in both points and assists in 2011-12. Lee is only a sophomore and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if he won the honor either this season or down the road either, as he’s versatile enough to cause fits anywhere on the floor. And last but not least there is Fouch, who has proven to be one of the best sixth men in the country over the course of his career.

15. VCU
Players: Darius Theus, Rob Brandenburg, Briante Weber, Troy Daniels, Treveon Graham, Teddy Okereafor, Melvin Johnson

Leading scorer Bradford Burgess may be gone but Troy Daniels averaged just over ten points per game last season and Darius Theus led the Rams in assists. Treveon Graham provided an offensive spark off the bench last year as he averaged 7.0 ppg in just under 17 minutes of action, and Briante Weber may have averaged 4.9 ppg but he did lead the team in steals. Brandenburg and Okereafor will add even more depth, and VCU landed a major pickup when Melvin Johnson committed during the summer.

Others (in alphabetical order): Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, La Salle, Marquette, Miami, Nevada, Ohio State, Saint Louis, Saint Mary’s, Stanford, and Syracuse.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Cincinnati adds commitment in 2015 class from forward

    Sep 15, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT

    Mick Cronin AP

    The Bearcats added a 2015 recruit on Monday night.

  2. Kansas begins Bill Self’s two-week Boot Camp

    Sep 15, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    Bill Self AP

    Kansas begins a two-week Boot Camp today.

  3. Richard Pitino warns Minnesota fans not to trust his dad before Louisville opener

    Sep 15, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Billy Minardi Classic - Florida International v Louisville Getty Images

    Things are getting interesting between the Pitinos as we get closer to the Minnesota and Louisville game.

  4. Florida International’s court destroyed by CrossFit event

    Sep 15, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Norfolk State v Illinois Getty Images

    Florida International had some bad luck over the weekend.

  5. Charlotte head coach Alan Major returns from medical leave of absense

    Sep 15, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament - First Round - Charlotte v Richmond Getty Images

    Charlotte head coach Alan Major has returned to the team.

  6. Another mixtape for Jaylen Brown, No. 2 prospect in 2015 (VIDEO)

    Sep 15, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Brown is a 6-foot-7 powerhouse that has drawn some comparisons to Stanley Johnson.

  7. NCAA adopts new rules philosophy regarding student-athlete support

    Sep 15, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA is trying to improve their ability to apply common sense to rules interpretations.

  8. Big Blue Nation already camping out for Big Blue Madness? (PHOTO)

    Sep 15, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT

    @JenNimePalumbo @JenNimePalumbo

    They’ll be out there for six full days. To get tickets to watch a practice.

  9. Shavon Shields shaves head to support coach’s son (PHOTO)

    Sep 15, 2014, 12:32 PM EDT

    @ChrisHarriman24 @ChrisHarriman24

    Avery Harriman continues his third battle with leukemia.

  10. USA Basketball, Mike Krzyzewski and thoughts on today’s ‘takedown’

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    It was less a shot at Coach K than it was a shot at USA Basketball.

  11. Alani Moore, Markelle Fultz shine at DMVElite 80

    Sep 15, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

    DSC_8490

    The best players in the D.C. area competed at DMVElite 80 over the weekend.

  12. Wyoming adds another Florida product to its 2015 recruiting class

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT

    Wyoming v UNLV Getty Images

    Of Wyoming’s five 2015 verbal commitments, three have come from Florida natives.

  13. 6-foot-8 power forward verbally commits to Fordham

    Sep 14, 2014, 10:08 PM EDT

    Tom Pecora Tom Pecora

    The Tabor Academy forward picked Fordham over offers from Duquesne, Quinnipiac and Saint Joseph’s.

  14. Boise State successfully keeps three-star guard home

    Sep 14, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

    Leon Rice AP

    With Anthony Drmic and Derrick Marks both being seniors, this is an important addition for the Broncos.

  15. Three-star power forward to announce college choice Friday

    Sep 14, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT

    Scott Stuart/Rivals Scott Stuart/Rivals

    The Roselle Catholic (New Jersey) product is expected pick from Rhode Island, Seton Hall and South Carolina.

  16. Summer exhibitions provided Kansas big man with needed playing time

    Sep 14, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    Hunter Mickelson, Andrew Young AP

    Playing with an all-star team this summer helped the Arkansas transfer shake off the rust accumulated during his season on the sidelines.