Recently I read ESPN’s top 100 college basketball players for the upcoming 2015-2016 season and I was taken aback some. So I decided to continue the ‘Starting Five’ series with my top 5 college basketball players for this upcoming season, which is surely going to be a great one.
#5: Ben Simmons (F, Freshman, LSU)
- I’m usually very reluctant to put freshman in my top players during the preseason for obvious reasons. They’re young, unproven, and are guaranteed to hit a wall at some point in their first season. Lefty Ben Simmons of LSU has all of the tools to become a phenom in Baton Rouge. He’s a 6’10” 240 lbs forward with freakish athleticism and a whole lot of game. He can handle the ball like a guard with the skills to play inside or out. He should be able to succeed in slashing, facilitating, and defending as a point forward, but it is yet to be seen whether he will be able to consistently hit jump shots at this level, but there’s no doubt he has been putting in work this summer to prepare for the more rigorous college game. God forbid any injuries, he will more likely than not be the #1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. The Tigers’ season starts Friday night against McNeese State at home.
#4 Melo Trimble (G, Sophomore, Maryland)
- This young man gave my Spartans the blues last season. He averaged 16 PPG, 3 APG, and 4 RPG. He can do it all from the point guard position. He’s athletic (6’3″ 185 lbs), He can shoot it with range, is scary coming off of the high pick and roll, and is just an all around play-maker. He will be at the forefront of Maryland’s #3 ranked team. They are the only team on MSU’s schedule that I’m scared to play and he’s the main reason why. The Terps open up their season Friday night in the XFINITY Center against Mount St. Mary’s.
#3 Denzel Valentine (G, Senior, Michigan State)
- Denzel is one of, if not the most versatile players in the country. The senior G is 6’5″ 220 lbs with a good handle and a laser jump shot. He’s a savvy defender and is without a doubt, the leader of the Spartans this year. This team will go as far as he takes them. He averaged 14.5 PPG, 4.3 APG, 6.3 RPG, and almost a steal per game. That’s an extremely impressive stat line for a college player. While the star NBA potential might not be there because of his lack of eye popping athleticism, Valentine will definitely go down as one of the best players to come through East Lansing. The Spartans begin Friday night at home against Florida Atlantic
#2 Kris Dunn (G, Junior, Providence)
- While most people outside of college basketball fanatics may not know who he is because of the limited air time on national T.V., Kris Dunn has probably the best NBA potential of any college guard right now. He has an NBA ready body at 6’4″ 220 lbs and gives the Friars an all around player averaging 15.6 PPG, 5.45 RPG, 7.48 APG, and 2.72 SPG. He’s crazy athletic and a willing facilitator and he’s been working hard to improve his shooting stroke this summer so I’m excited to see him this year. He’s pretty much a lock lottery pick and may go higher if he plays well and decides to opt out of his senior season and go to the NBA. Providence starts their season Saturday night at home against Harvard.
#1 Marcus Paige (G, Senior, North Carolina)
- And finally, the man of the hour. Hailing from Marion, Iowa. UNC Tar Heel star PG Marcus Paige! It’s a championship or bust season for UNC this year coming in as the preseason #1 team in the country. A mix of youth and veteran experience and leadership along with endless talent will help this team play well into March and maybe make that trip to Houston to win it all and this guy will be at the helm. Marcus is a sharp-shooting lefty that stands 6’2″ 175 lbs. He averaged 14.1 PPG, 4.5 APG, 2.9 RPG, and 1.7 SPG for the Heels last season. There is no one else in the college game that I would rather have taking the final shot for me. After being ousted by Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen last season 79-72, be on the look out for Paige to be on a revenge tour this season and lead UNC to the promised land. Unfortunately Marcus will miss about a month of this season with a broken bone in his non-shooting hand. Tar Heels start their journey Friday night against Temple in the Veterans Classic.
- Credits: To each respective University’s athletic sites (Bio information and Statistics) and ESPN (Additional Statistics).
- Melvin Jenkins Jr.