The first week and a half of college basketball season has revealed some truths about certain conferences, teams and individual players. Even with a small sample size worth of data, there are some conclusions to be drawn. Among those conclusions is the shocking revelation that the Top 101 And 1 players ranking compiled before the season by our staff through a rigorous voting process may have featured a few snubs.
Our writers hail from various regions of the country, focus on different conferences as we generate preseason content and each bring a different set of criteria to the selections process for the list. That diversity of thought ensures that the list is annually the best of its kind in college basketball. However, in a sport with several thousand players, projecting the 101 best is bound to be an imperfect exercise.
For this week’s edition of the Dribble Handoff, our writers are identifying the players they wish had made the list. In some cases, these players did receive votes — just not enough to make the final list. By the way, if you haven’t seen the list yet, click here to check it out. It may not be perfect, but it seems clear so far that having Drew Timme at No. 1 was absolutely the right call.
Trevor Keels, Duke
Paolo Banchero, for various reasons, has received more attention than anybody else on Duke’s roster in this early part of the season. But it shouldn’t get lost that Trevor Keels’ college career is off to a really good and productive start. The 6-4 freshman got a game-high 25 points in the season-opening win over Kentucky and is averaging 14.8 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 assists while shooting a respectable 38.1% from 3 through four games. He’s a super-strong, get-to-the-rim guard who is shooting the ball somewhat surprisingly well and gaining the attention of NBA evaluators. If we were starting our list of the Top 100 And 1 players in college basketball from scratch today, he’d have to be on it somewhere. — Gary Parrish
Justin Bean, Utah State
Here’s the back-half of my list. My highest-ranked player to not make it was Colorado State’s David Roddy. I believed he was — and still have belief he can be — the Mountain West player of the year come March. But there’s another guy from that league who’s looking like a huge whiff for us. He didn’t even make my list. Eight days into the season, Utah State’s Justin Bean is an obvious oversight. The senior is averaging 24.5 points and 14.0 rebounds on 69.2 eFG% for the 1-1 Aggies under new coach Ryan Odom. Bean was an all-league player last season. Now he’s feeling top-50-good. Please accept our apology. — Matt Norlander
Taz Sherman, West Virginia
With Miles McBride and Derek Culver gone, Taz Sherman was expected to be the biggest beneficiary to the outgoing production — and indeed he has been. In two wins for West Virginia out of the gate, he’s averaging a team-high 17.5 points as well as 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. All the while, he’s making fewer than 20% of his 3-point attempts, a number almost certain to rebound as a career 30+% 3-point shooter. Sherman was in my own personal top 100 in the preseason but just missed our cut, and I’m regretting not having pined harder for him. Could be one of the Big 12’s breakout stars. — Kyle Boone
Jules Bernard, UCLA
Go ahead and roll your eyes at the inclusion of another player from a blue-blood, top-ranked program, but there is no denying that what Jules Bernard has done early this season is Top 101 And 1 caliber. The 6-foot-6 guard is averaging 19 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and came up clutch in the Bruins’ overtime win over Villanova. In the final 2:20 of overtime, he pulled down three rebounds and made 4 of 4 free throws. Also, the game may not have reached overtime without his tough 2-pointer with 30 seconds left in regulation that tied the score at 67. UCLA’s opponents have no choice but to focus their defensive efforts on Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. When they do, however, Bernard is a lethal scoring option and a prime example of the Bruins’ depth. — David Cobb