50 in 50 is a feature here at RCT counting down until the Jayhawks kick off the 2011 basketball season on November first. Got an idea for something you'd like to see featured here? tweet @rockchalktalk or @fetch9 or email me at fetch9 at gmail dot com.
Last week Sporting News came out with their three preseason All-America teams, and I have a few bones to pick. The first one is that this is in slideshow format, so apparently Sporting News is now Bleacher Report. In a related story, don't click the link and give them the satisfaction of getting all your pageviews, as I'll lay out all fifteen players below.
In KU related news, Thomas Robinson was named a 2nd team All-American. It's probably a little aggressive given his lack of overall production so far, but he can certainly get there, and even be better than that. But more on him later. First, the first team:
Jeremy Lamb, G, UConn
One player, one mistake. Lamb had a great NCAA tournament, averaging 15.3 ppg overall in their postseason run, but though Lamb was a decent shooter (54.8% eFG taking 22.6% of the shots) he didn't do much else. Despite being a 6'5" guard he wasn't a very good rebounder, and had just a 12.3% assist rate to go with a 14.4% turnover rate. For a glimpse as to how he will do running the show at UConn, at the U-19 World Championships this summer he averaged 16.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 2 apg, but shot just 46% from two and 29.4% from three.
Harrison Barnes, F, North Carolina
Later into the 50 in 50 I'll make my picks, but Barnes is probably going to be my preseason player of the year. He started slowly last year but finished strong, putting up 40 points in an ACC tournament game vs. Clemson. His advanced stats look awful when taking the whole season sample (49% eFG, 9.6% assist rate, 14% turnover rate), but after adjusting to the speed of the college game last year he took off, all while shouldering the offensive load for UNC last year.
Anthony Davis, F, Kentucky
He's a Freshman who is expected to go 1st or 2nd overall in the NBA draft next year, but that's what was said about Barnes when he was placed on the first team All-American team last year. We'll see.
Perry Jones, F, Baylor
Jones averaged "only" 13.9 ppg last year for Baylor but had a 55.3% eFG and 15.8% DR (defensive rebounding) rate. At 6'10" he needs to get to the foul line a bit more and then convert when he does (66.4% FT%).
Jared Sullinger, C, Ohio State
Sullinger dominated as a Freshman last year, with a 120.4 O-Rating. He had a 54.5% eFG and was one of the best rebounders in the country: His 14% offensive rebounding rate was 47th nationally and his 26.2% defensive rebounding rate was 18th.
Jordan Taylor, G, Wisconsin
Another mistake. Taylor is a lock first teamer, and is the other guy with Barnes in consideration for my preseason POY. Taylor's per game stats aren't great because of how slowly Wisconsin plays (58 possessions per game, 344th nationally), but his tempo free stats are immaculate. He had a 30% assist rate last year and a turnover rate of only 8.5%, 2nd best in the country. When considering how much he has the ball in his hands, it's astounding how he is not universally heralded.
John Shurna, F, Northwestern
Shurna was hobbled by an ankle injury all of last year, but despite that he put up a 58.3 eFG and turned it over only 13.7% of the time. He was the main force on a team that turned it over 5th least in the entire country, and also had a 15.3% defensive rebounding rate.
Terrence Jones, F, Kentucky
I'm a huge Jones fan, and despite slipping a bit (47% eFG), he finished 10th in the kPOY ratings. But Jones did a lot of good that didn't involve scoring: he had a 22.5% defensive rebounding rate, a 6% block rate, and drew 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes, which ranked 85th nationally. With Davis and fellow Freshman sensation Michael Gillchrist joining the team Jones might not see himself a featured option, but A. he should be and B. even if he isn't he will still impact games.
There isn't much new I can say about Thomas Robinson, but Jay Bilas said that Robinson was the hardest working and most productive player at the LeBron Skills Camp. At his worst he's a guy who can average a double double just by grabbing rebounds (duh) and only scoring on put backs. But if he's developed a couple post moves and maybe some touch from 10-15 feet he can be an absolute monster.
Tyler Zeller, C, North Carolina
Zeller is one of the more forgotten players in the country (which is weird to say of a Tar Heel) but he had a 120 O rating last year, had a 54.7% eFG, drew 6 fouls per 40 minutes and converted 76% of his free throws. He's not a great defensive rebounder but is very good (~11%) on the offensive glass and plays very well defensively.
Austin Rivers, G, Duke
I have seen only a bit of Rivers play in international events pre-college, and I have to admit I don't really see what the hype is about. I'll defer to others on this one, but he wouldn't be on my preseason list of top 15 players in the country.
John Jenkins, G, Vanderbilt
Jenkins had the 32nd best offensive rating last year, and made 100 of a ridiculous 245 threes taken. He doesn't get many assists, but doesn't turn it over either, and while defense isn't his calling card, he at least doesn't foul much (1.6 fouls per 40 minutes) meaning he can remain on the floor enough to bomb more threes. He also got to the line a surprising number of times given all the threes he took, and he made nearly 90% of his free throws, which led to him having the 30th best true shooting percentage last year.
Tu Holloway, G, Xavier
He was shackled in their loss to Marquette in the NCAA tournament last year, but he had a great year for the Musketeers overall. He played in 94% of their minutes (6th most nationally) and had a 30.4% assist rate. (to further demonstrate how good Jordan Taylor is, they had nearly identical assist rates but Holloway's turnover rate was 19.5%. In the Atlantic 10 no less). He drew a ton of fouls (6.6 per 40) and shot roughly 87% from the line.
Doug McDermott, G, Creighton
I think we're into the making out there choices so people will read your magazine portion of the show. I like McDermott, who had a 58.1% eFG and a 20.3% defensive rebounding rate, but not enough to call him one of the best 15 players in America, especially due to his 18% turnover rate.
Ashton Gibbs, G, Pitt
Gibbs had the 17th best O rating last year (117.6) and a 60.9% eFG. Though he didn't get to the line much last year, he shot nearly 90% from there and shot a ridiculous 49% from three in 208 attempts. He also had just a 14.9% turnover rate. Gibbs probably should be on the 2nd team instead of Shurna (or maybe T Rob, sadly) given that his floor is much higher than those two (of course, so is his ceiling).
Feel free to leave any guys you would move around in the comments.