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College / Dec 15, 2011 / 5:30 pm

Elite Eight: College Basketball’s Top 8 Players In The Country

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis (photo. Britney McIntosh/UK Athletics)

It’s finals week on many college campuses, which means it’s a good time to take a look at which players are in the lead for National Player of the Year. It’s only six weeks into the season, so don’t worry if your favorite player (Austin Rivers?) isn’t listed quite yet.

Some of these names aren’t the standard fare, but rest assured, you’ll likely be seeing these names as March approaches. Rather than a traditional Top 10, I’ve chosen to go with a Top 8 to reflect a coaches’ regular rotation.

Players are listed alphabetically, not by rank.

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Isaiah Canaan, Murray State, junior
After becoming the Ohio Valley Conference Freshman Player of the Year and taking the Racers to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 (where they beat No. 4-seed Vandy), Canaan took them to a second-straight OVC regular-season title last year. But he’s saved his best for now, averaging 19.8 points per game and orchestrating the Racers’ 10-0 start and 76-72 upset of Memphis on the road. He’s adjusting just fine with new coach Steve Prohm after Billy Kennedy left for Texas A&M, and playing efficiently with the ball in his hands — 50 percent from the field, 48 percent from three and 84 from the line, all career bests. It’s shown; his offensive win shares rating of 1.9 is the second-highest in the nation.

Anthony Davis, Kentucky, freshman
With respect to past Wildcats, every Kentucky team in John Calipari‘s three years have been loaded, but this may be the most so — with Davis as its eye-popping centerpiece. The impossibly long-limbed, 6-11 frosh’s game-saving block on John Henson with seconds remaining to beat North Carolina in an instant classic was his “Hello, world” moment so far. Just don’t tell that to opposing teams’ forwards who have played against Davis. He’s shooting 67 percent with 11 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and just one turnover per game. He’d have even more blocks if opponents were more inclined to challenge him in the lane, and he will be more of a low-post offensive factor as he feels more comfortable.

Kim English, Missouri, senior
English leads Frank Haith‘s frenetic pressure attack in Columbia like never before. A big guard at 6-6, he’s tailor-made for jumping passing lanes or creating his own shot once he gets in the lane. This has led to a career-best 16.2 points per game on 56 percent shooting from the floor — a huge 17 percentage points better than his previous best — and is at a career-best clip from three-point range, shooting 54 percent (his career high up to now is 37 percent). It’s all well enough to have a breakout season, but consider he’s doing it while playing at the four in extended stretches because of Laurence Bowers‘ ACL tear. Watch out for the No. 10 Tigers.

Tu Holloway, Xavier, senior
His role in the Crosstown Shootout fight with rival Cincinnati — accused by Cincy coach Mick Cronin of chirping at the Bearcats’ bench the entire second half — his regrettable postgame comments and the resulting one-game suspension are damning, but can’t wholly blot out his season’s production. His 124.4 Orating (points produced per 100 possessions) is extremely strong, and his toughness, yes toughness, manifested itself in an ugly way against Cincy but has been key to the Musketeers’ 8-0 start.

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  • TruthClarity

    What? How is it that you have Kim English on here but mot Mizzou’s best player and leading scorer Marcus Denmon??? Makes no sense smh…

  • http://www.twitter.com/honestt_21 Talented

    No Harrison Barnes? Perry Jones III?

  • Andrew Greif

    @Talented Harrison no doubt is playing well, but these guys have really stood out so far. And Perry Jones is doing his thing — against strength of schedule ranked No. 343 by Ken Pomeroy. We’ll check in with both those guys when their conference schedule starts.

  • http://www.psychodrama.com Chicagorilla

    @Andrew

    To steal a line from my man Sho’Nuff “N!gg* Please!”

    There is no way that cat from Murry State or UNLV is better than Harrison Barnes, John Hensen, Perry Jones, Quincy Miller, Jeremy Lamb, or Tony Wroten.

    If you wanted to name the top 8 hottest players, or top 8 players you should be watching right now, then cool. But don’t give me this BS, hell no!
    Then you mention Perry Jones’s strength of schedule, but you do realize UNC has played @Uk, @UNLV, Nuetral site vs MSU, all the while HB and Henson are getting off. Not to mention Kendall MArshall.

    If the posters on this site knew more about college ball you’d be getting your a$$ handed to you just like the guy who created the top 10 PG list and included Lebron.

    LMMFAO@Murray State and Creighton Dudes being on the list before Lamb, Barnes, and Henson…..wtf

  • Xgame

    You left sullinger out!!!! How!!

  • surfnaked

    this list is a joke.

  • First & Foremost

    Sparking a conversation about the topic at hand:
    Dime – One
    Commentors – Zero

  • BooBooDaFool

    @TruthClarity

    Exactly that was the wrong tiger

  • http://www.espn.com Sho-Nuff

    Nigg* Please!!!!

    This list can kiss my Converse *> <—Converse check and star…HA HA!