Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Best Backcourts


The most integral part of a team is their backcourt. In order to be a threat to win the national championship, a good perimeter group is necessary. Without superior guard play, you can kiss a Final Four appearance goodbye. A team can have the best forwards in the country, but if they don't have a perimeter that can knock down shots and handle the ball, they are ripe for an upset in the early rounds. Who has the best backcourts in the country? Starters in italics

1. Virginia (Sean Singletary, J.R. Reynolds): If the Cavaliers end their drought and return to the NCAA Tournament this season, it will be because of their backcourt duo. PG Sean Singletary and SG J.R. Reynolds are both top-10 players at their respective positions and have the potential to carry UVA to a win. Singletary is an excellent penetrator and nearly always finds a way to get to the basket. He is constantly attacking the rim and either finishing himself or kicking it out to a teammate. Reynolds is a very good three-point shooter and has developed a more well-rounded offensive game. He can get to the basket and also has a solid mid-range game. Both Singletary and Reynolds are also decent defenders. They do need to develop some depth, though.

2. Kansas (Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins): This group could be the best in the country if you add swingman Brandon Rush, but the trio of Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, and Sherron Collins is good enough by itself. All three have the ability to play the point, and are also comfortable off the ball. Chalmers developed as the season went on and could be due for a breakout season. He led the Big 12 in steals and is also a good scorer. Robinson is the best defender in the conference and is also an underrated point guard on a national level. He keeps everyone happy but is also able to create for himself if necessary. Collins is a highly touted newcomer who is very athletic and is expected to make an impact immediately.

3. North Carolina (Bobby Frasor, Quentin Thomas, Wes Miller, Tywon Lawson, Marcus Ginyard, Wayne Ellington): Wow, the depth. Really, wow. This might be the deepest group of perimeter players in recent history. The Tar Heels return both starters (Bobby Frasor and Wes Miller) and their backups (Quentin Thomas and Marcus Ginyard). Oh, they also bring in the top-ranked recruit at both positions (Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington). The biggest problem is going to be finding minutes for everyone. Lawson is an explosive guard that loves to push the ball in the open court. He is also a good defender. Ellington is an excellent shooter who can fill it up. Frasor is a solid point guard who will provide depth if Lawson gets the starting job over him. Thomas is quick but turnover-prone; he might be the odd man out at the point. The athletic Ginyard is the team's lock-down defender, while Miller is efficient from long-range.

4. Hofstra (Carlos Rivera, Loren Stokes, Antoine Agudio, Greg Johnson): Yes, Hofstra. The Pride have the country's best three-guard lineup and should get a chance to display it on a national level this season. Loren Stokes is the team's go-to player and is one of the best all-around two-guards in America. He is excellent at getting into the lane for baskets and is also a solid defender. Antoine Agudio is an outstanding shooter, from outside the arc as well as the mid-range. When he is hot, he can dominate a game. Carlos Rivera is the forgotten member of the trio, but he is a good scorer and distributor. Moreover, he does not turn the ball over often and is an above-average rebounder for his size. Greg Johnson provides depth.

5. Marquette (Dominic James, Jerel McNeal, David Cubillan, Wesley Matthews): A close second to Hofstra in terms of three-guard lineups, the Golden Eagles have a chance to be a national player this season due to this group. Dominic James is one of the top point guards in the country and can be a dominant peformer due to his all-around ability and athleticism. He is strong in traffic once he gets past defenders with his quickness. Jerel McNeal is an excellent defender and is also solid on the offensive end. If he cuts down on his turnovers, he could have a breakout season. Wesley Matthews has a very good all-around game. He can score, rebound, defend, and shoot the ball. Newcomer David Cubillan will give James temporary breathers.

6. Ohio State (Jamar Butler, Mike Conley, Ron Lewis, Daequan Cook, David Lighty): This group could be in the top 3 by the end of the season. Greg Oden might get all the shine for the Buckeyes, but it's the perimeter that will be the team's strength this year. Jamar Butler is the best PG in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. He is a good distributor and is a solid all-around player. Ron Lewis is a good scorer who can put up points driving to the basket and shooting the three. Daequan Cook may have more of an impact than Oden this season. He is an outstanding scorer on the wing and will play a major role for OSU. Mike Conley is a solid point guard prospect that might have been somewhat overrated coming out of high school. However, he is a good passer and will see plenty of minutes. David Lighty is a versatile performer on the wing.

7. Pittsburgh (Ronald Ramon, Levance Fields, Keith Benjamin, Mike Cook, Antonio Graves, Gilbert Brown): The Panthers have Final Four potential this season, and how far they go depends largely on this group. While no player is a star, there are several solid players who provide more than enough production for Jamie Dixon. Levance Fields has the best chance to break-out. He is a crafty guard who can play both spots. Ronald Ramon is a very good three-point shooter who also takes care of the ball. Keith Benjamin is athletic and is also a stalwart defender. East Carolina transfer Mike Cook adds scoring, while Antonio Graves is a veteran influence. Gilbert Brown adds depth and athleticism on the wing.

8. Memphis (Andre Allen, Antonio Anderson, Willie Kemp, Jeremy Hunt, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Doneal Mack, Tre'Von Willis): This group is almost as deep as North Carolina's. Imagine if Darius Washington had stayed instead of entering his name into the NBA Draft? Either way, the Tigers won't really miss him. Andre Allen and freshman Willie Kemp will split the point guard duties. Allen takes care of the ball and is also a solid distributor. Kemp is expected to make an immediate impact due to his passing ability. Antonio Anderson led the team in minutes played last season, and is a very good shooter. Chris Douglas-Roberts might have the most potential of any player in this group. He can do everything well and is a difficult match-up. Jeremy Hunt is coming off a suspension but is a good defender and shooter. Freshmen Doneal Mack and Tre'Von Willis will provide depth.

9. Georgia Tech (Javaris Crittenton, Lewis Clinch, Anthony Morrow, Mario West): The Yellow Jackets' perimeter group will not get much attention on a national level, but they have all the ingredients needed for a good backcourt. Javaris Crittenton is a highly touted point guard prospect and should cure some of the Tech's turnover problems. He is an excellent scorer and will make an immediate impact. Anthony Morrow is a very good shooter from three-point range and can stretch the defense. He needs to add to his offensive package, though. Lewis Clinch can score from anywhere on the court. He can shoot the three but can also get points from inside the arc. Mario West is an excellent defender who can also provide offense.

10. Texas Tech (Jarrius Jackson, Martin Zeno, Charles Burgess): The Red Raiders disappointed last season, but could bounce back this season on the backs of this perimeter group. The three-guard look is led by the outstanding duo of Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno. Both are top-25 at their respective positions, with Jackson as a top-5 point guard. He can single-handedly takeover a game due to his offensive ability. He is an excellent long-range shooter and can also get into the lane to finish. Moreover, Jackson is a solid passer. Zeno is a good scorer but is not much of a shooter. He gets most of his points from inside the arc, driving to the basket and finishing in the paint. He also led Tech in rebounding. Newcomer Charles Burgess should make an immediate impact. He is a solid scorer and passer.

Honorable Mention

Virginia Tech (Jamon Gordon, Zabian Dowdell, Nigel Munson, Markus Sailes): The Hokies have an excellent duo in Jamon Gordon and Zabian Dowdell. Both are top-25 performers at their respective positions. Gordon has a solid all-around game. He can score and pass the ball well, and is also one of the best rebounding guards in the country. Dowdell is a very good scorer but needs to work on his three-point shooting. Freshman Nigel Munson and swingman Markus Sailes provide depth.

Florida (Taurean Green, Lee Humphrey, Walter Hodge): Didn't think I would leave out the National Champs, did you? Taurean Green improved as the season went on, and developed into one of the top PGs in the country. He can score and pass very well. Lee Humphrey is an outstanding shooter from behind the arc. He can break games open with his long-range shooting. Walter Hodge is a solid combo guard who is quick and talented.

Georgia (Levi Stukes, Billy Humphrey, Mike Mercer, Sundiata Gaines, Channing Toney): One of the deepest groups in the country. Sundiata Gaines is an underrated performer, as he is a very good all-around player who contributes in all aspects of the game. Levi Stukes is a scorer and he could be ready for a big season in that department. Mike Mercer had an excellent freshman season and he is very tough to stop going to the basket. Billy Humphrey and Channing Toney also see plenty of minutes on the perimeter, providing scoring and depth.

Xavier (Drew Lavender, Stanley Burrell, Johnny Wolf, Adrion Graves, B.J. Raymond): An underrated group on a national level. The addition of Oklahoma transfer Drew Lavender gives the Musketeers the floor leader they've needed. Stanley Burrell is a very good shooter and scorer who could have a break-out season this year. Johnny Wolf started at the point last season down the stretch and will provide depth, along with Adrion Graves and B.J. Raymond.

George Washington (Carl Elliot, Maureece Rice): Not a lot of depth, but the starters are very good. Carl Elliot is a tough-minded point guard who can do it all on the court. He is an excellent defender who can force turnovers. Offensively, he is a good shooter and can also get into the lane with his size. Maureece Rice is an excellent scorer. He came off the bench last season, but should see his numbers increase this year with a starting job.

Others to Watch
USC- Once Gabe Pruitt comes back, he and Lodrick Stewart form a good scoring combo. They need a true PG, though.
Clemson- Although they are poor shooters, Vernon Hamilton and Cliff Hammonds are athletic and quick in the full-court. K.C. Rivers is solid.
Oregon- Aaron Brooks is inconsistent but talented, while Chamberlain Oguchi and Bryce Taylor are good scorers on the wings.
Baylor- The Bears are deep on the perimeter, led by the duo of Curtis Jerrells and Aaron Bruce. Tweety Carter should make an impact.
Florida State- Deep, athletic group. Transfer Toney Douglas runs the show, while Isaiah Swann and Jason Rich are solid on the wings.
Texas A&M- Excellent defensive backcourt, led by All-American Acie Law. Josh Carter and Dominique Kirk round out the perimeter.
Houston- Point guard Lanny Harris is underrated on a national level, while Oliver Lafayette is a decent all-around contributor.
LSU- Tack Minor returns from suspension and the Tigers also bring in transfers Dameon Mason and Terry Martin. Starter Garrett Temple also returns.
DePaul- Deep group, led by all-conference Sammy Mejia. Sixth man Draelon Burns is a scorer, while Jabari Currie and Will Walker contribute.
Wisconsin- Kammron Taylor and Michael Flowers are interchangeable parts, while newcomer Jason Bohannon is expected to make an impact.
Marist- Jared Jordan is one of the best point guards in the country, in any conference, while Will Whittington is an oustanding shooter.


  1. t.j. bannister no longer plays for uva. he has transferred to liberty.

  2. devendorf and harris def belong up there, best back court in the big east, josh wright not bad either

  3. devendorf, harris, mike jones, demetris nichols....are you kidding me? top 10 at least

  4. Nichols and Jones are frontcourt players--because they are forwards.

  5. what about dotzler and funk at creighton? i realize that they were injuired last year

  6. What about JamesOn Curry,Bryon Eaton,Terrell Harris,and Obi Munelo?I cannot believe you did not put them on here.

  7. why should oklahoma states backcourt be up there anonymous? did you watch what they did this year absolutly nothing jameson curry was a bust