CBS’ Top 50 point guards for the 2012-13 season came out today and it’s the usual list of who’s who at the top. Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan leads a group of major conference stars that will be on your television all season.
It’s not the top of the list though that I have a problem with, it’s the bottom. Somewhere around 35 or 40 you have to start thinking about smaller college players as guys that could make the list. It seems like two big snubs from the NEC in particular are Velton Jones and Jason Brickman.
While I got up in arms about Brickman earlier today on Twitter, Jones’ case actually might be easier to make. He’ll be in the running for the NEC Player of the Year award this season, which Brickman probably won’t, and he’s forced to score much more often. Since we’re really talking about “primary ball handlers” here instead of point guards (which makes it tough to justify two Missouri players…), that’s important.
Well, not many people handled the ball more than Jones last season. He ranked 21st in the percent of his team’s possessions used last season. No one is questioning whether Nate Wolters (#11 in %Poss) or Tim Frazier (#10 in %Poss) should be on the PG list. Tempo-free stats like Jones for a bunch of other reasons too. He finished 23rd nationally in assist rate (36.2%) and 56th in steal percentage (3.8%). He drew 7.2 fouls per 40 minutes (11th) and played 74 percent of the possible minutes he could be on the court. His offensive rating of 107.0, is the model of an efficient, high-volume scorer.
As it turns out, Jones’ traditional stats weren’t bad either. He averaged 16 points, 4.5 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 29.6 minutes per game last season. This isn’t an NEC thing. He outplayed D.J. Cooper in RMU’s 70-67 win at Ohio. (Cooper is ranked 24th on CBS’ list.) Jones scored 18 points against Cleveland State, 38 against James Madison, 16 against Penn and 19 against St. Peter’s. The one flaw in this argument? In RMU’s two marquee games – against Pitt and Memphis – Jones went a combined 3-28 from the field and scored 17 points. So maybe he shouldn’t be considered with the “Elite” guys. Still, I’d take Jones over a bunch of guys in the 35-50 range. Korie Lucious, Jake Odum, Kerron Johnson, Anthony Ireland, Kendall Williams, Lamont Jones (gasp!) all could’ve made way for Jones and I would’ve been completely okay with it.
Now, I spent all this time arguing for Jones when I went off about Jason Brickman. Well, here’s this thing, the way CBS set up this list set Brickman up to fail. This isn’t a list for your classic pass-first point guard, no matter where Phil Pressey is on it. It’s also based a lot on projection.
Brickman is what he is. An excellent pass-first point guard on a team that needs him to be exactly that. He fills his role perfectly. He stays on the court (playing 85.9% of possible minutes last season) by not fouling (committing 0.8 fouls per 40 minutes, best in the nation) and runs the ship. The pieces around him change constantly. Jim Ferry is willing to sub everyone else, including NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd and all-conference first teamer Jamal Olasewere, but Brickman stays on the court.
That has to tell you how important he is to this team, to this league, to college basketball. Maybe it doesn’t mean that he’s one of the Top 50 ball handlers in the NCAA, but if I needed a passing college eligible PG to play the Monstars tomorrow my list would look like this:
- Phil Pressey, Missouri (#2 in CBS)
- Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s (#8)
- Peyton Siva, Louisville (#9)
- Vincent Council, Providence (#18)
- Jason Brickman, LIU Brooklyn (unranked)
You can have the other 46. I know the guy I’d want.