First, congratulations to Iona’s Michael Glover for being named to the John R. Wood Award Men’s Preseason Top 50 List. It’s quite the honor to be recognized by the national media and it shows just how far he’s come. What’s even more impressive is that Glover made the list while playing for a team that plays in the MAAC. There were a lot of other talented mid-major players that got snubbed.
It’s tough to pick the 50 best college basketball players in the country. Yes, for the Preseason Wooden Award list you get to eliminate freshmen, but there are still thousands of players to choose from. Those players – in general – play at two different levels of competition for most of the season. So how do you evaluate them against each other? That’s a tough question that a few people have tried to evaluate this season. Drew Cannon struggled with this just a few months ago when he wrote his Top 100 series for Basketball Prospectus. John Pudner probably thought long and hard about it as well when he created his system Value Add statistic. Each of these rankings at least allows us to make some guesses about how elite players at all levels stack up.
Both of those rankings will tell you that there are more than nine players who were named to the Top 50 list that are extremely talented outside of the power conferences, the MWC and the non-Memphis division of Conference USA. Here are three guys though that have a very good case.
The biggest snub for me is Arsalan Kazemi. The Rice forward rebounds like a mad man, gets to the free throw line with ease and is an inside presence, all while being the focal point of the Owls’ offense. He was ranked #20 on Drew Cannon’s list and according to Value Add is ranked #12 amongst returning players. He’s solidly in the Top 25 players in the nation, let alone the Top 50. The fact that he played for a 14-18 Rice team probably held him back in the national voting. When you have to go for 24 and 13 just to get your team past SMU in the first round of the Conference USA tournament its hard to get noticed.
Kyle Weems is another big mid-major name left off the list. Weems could’ve left this offseason for a bigger program, but he decided to stay at Missouri State and help the Bears advance to the NCAA tournament. Last season he did all sorts of things, averaging 16 points and 6.9 rebounds per game as MSU went 26-9 and 15-3 in conference. But the Bears were upset by Indiana State in the MVC finals and forced to play in the NIT. Weems is ranked #27 by Cannon and #18 in returning Value Add, but he doesn’t show up in the Top 50 list.
The final guy I want to mention is Reggie Hamilton. Who knows what the 5’11 Oakland point guard has to do to get some recognition. All he did last season was help lead the Golden Grizzlies to the NCAA tournament alongside Keith Benson. Along the way Hamilton was just behind Benson at 17.6 points per game. He averaged 5.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game as well. Hamilton was ranked #47 by Cannon and is ranked #22 in returning Value Add. He’ll battle with South Dakota State’s Keith Wolters for the Summit League’s Player of the Year award, but neither could find their way onto the list.
Of course, if you’re going to add three players to the list you have to take three off. My choices?
- Jorge Gutierrez of Cal – There’s no need for two players from a team that went 18-15 and was 10-8 in the Pac-10 on this list.
- Patric Young of Florida – This selection was based mostly on potential, considering he averaged 3.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season. Albeit in 17.8 minutes per game.
- Peyton Siva of Lousiville – This was another selection based on potential (9.9 points and 5.2 assists per game in 2010-11). He’s a thorn in a lot of Big East players’ sides, but is he really one of the top 50 players in the country?
The cases of Kazemi, Weems and Hamilton show that sometimes a mid-major guy just needs a little bit of the spotlight to show up on the national radar to get the respect that he deserves.