The latest at CHJ: Our college hoops Dream Team
I’m piggybacking off of the guys at CBSSports.com who each created his own dream team of current college basketball stars. Unlike the CBSSports.com dream teams, I wanted to put together a roster of players that aren’t just superstars and Player of the Year candidates.
I wanted to find 10 guys (I stopped at 10 because nobody plays more than 10 guys) who you could legitimately see together on the same team. That means a maximum of two serious Naismith contenders, one or two more Naismith candidates (but not serious contenders), a handful of role players, several of which will actually be bench players in real life.
I included players from BCS leagues and mid-majors, but didn’t follow the CBSSports guideline of no more than one player from a team (I was unaware of this rule when I drafted my roster).
PG – Aaron Craft. I wanted to avoid having two players from the same school since I have 340+ schools to pick players from, but I couldn’t resist grabbing Aaron Craft as my starting point guard. I avoided Kendall Marshall because of his defense and I wanted to save my Naismith candidates for other positions.
Craft gives the dream team the ultimate stopper. As Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn writes on a regular basis, Craft’s defense causes issues for opponents in multiple ways – drawing charges, forcing turnovers, causing illegal screens, and generating “uncredited turnovers.” Add his stout defense with solid point guard play (29.3-percent assist rate, and 111.9 o-rating) and Craft serves as that three-star recruit who quickly develops in a star.
SG – Jason Clark. Georgetown has remained relevant this season despite losing Austin Freeman and Chris Wright because the Hoyas have senior Jason Clark who has proven to be a deadly shooter. Clark can create opportunities to score off the ball, but also off the dribble which will be important because Aaron Craft is a defense first point guard.
Clark is a rare 180-shooter: Add up a players’ shooting percentages (free throws, twos, and threes) and you won’t find many are over 180. Clark is one of them (90-percent from the line, 50 from two, and 42 from three).
SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. There’s a reason Jeff Borzello and Alex Schwartz ranked Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as the top freshman in the Class of 2011. MKG hasn’t been John Calipari’s flashiest freshman, but he’s been the most polished and consistent thus far. In the Wildcats’ three games against currently ranked opponents, MKG is averaging 15.7 points and 9.7 rebounds while knocking down 61-percent of his shots.
Kidd-Gilchrist has a finely tuned motor that allows him to be a ball-hawk and an above average defender already. He fits in nicely as a second serious Naismith candidate because he can score when needed to, but does everything else when other players are getting good opportunities at the basket.
PF – Michael Scott. With two sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup, I wanted another old dude to put at the four to complement Clark’s senior leadership. Virginia’s Mike Scott seemed like the perfect candidate – he’s a fifth-year senior who entered UVA as a role player with some star potential and blossomed into a stud under coach Tony Bennett who emphasizes smart shot taking.
Between Scott’s 26.4-percent defensive rebound percentage and Jared Sullinger’s 30-percent, opponents would rarely get second-chance opportunities around the basket against my dream team.
C – Jared Sullinger. This is really a no-brainer for me. He’s the best player in America and front-runner to win the Naismith. He swipes over 30-percent of his opponents’ misses when he’s on the floor which ranks second nationally. The Ohio State sophomore also ranks third nationally in o-rating (130.2 percent) for players who eat up at least 24-percent of his team’s possessions.
Sullinger’s low post presence will allow the shooters on my dream team to get better shots on the perimeter because defenses will need to shade a second man toward his location in the post. Since Sully lost weight during the offseason, he’s been running the floor better this year which makes him more dangerous on a team like mine which is designed to play up-tempo.
PG – Isaiah Canaan. When the second string backcourt gets action, Murray State junior Isaiah Canaan will serve as the point guard who can stretch the floor while Dion Waiters will be more of the slasher and finisher in transition. Canaan’s shooting has improved significantly from last season. He hits nearly half his three-point shots and is an equal threat to score inside the arc as well.
SG – Dion Waiters. When Aaron Craft is your point guard, the perfect complement at the two is a dynamic slasher who can score from anywhere, but more importantly, is a fantastic finisher in transition. That’s exactly what Syracuse shooting guard Dion Waiters has become in his sophomore season.
Like at Syracuse, Waiters will come off the bench for the dream team. He was originally considered as the starter of this team, but the starting lineup needed a shooter, something Waiters hasn’t proven to be yet as a member of the Orange. His shot is improved, but he’s still hitting just 28-percent of his threes.
SF – Reggie Bullock. The starting lineup doesn’t have many threats behind the arc, but the bench is loaded with guys who can hit the long ball. UNC’s Reggie Bullock serves as the gunner who can come into a game to face a zone defense and start unloading long balls. He averages a three-point attempt every about four minutes that he’s on the floor and drills 45-percent of them.
PF – Jake Koch. A starting frontcourt of MKG, Scott, and Sullinger doesn’t bode well for spacing, but Northern Iowa’s Jake Koch will significantly help that issue as he does his best work 20+ feet from the basket. If Koch and Bullock’s 25-30 combined minutes come (mostly) with only one of them on the floor, this team’s spacing issues will be alleviated.
C – Keith Wright. The last guy off my bench is someone who can grab boards and block shots. The rest of this team won’t have much trouble scoring, so Harvard’s Keith Wright will provide intangibles as well as some scoring on the inside.
Freshman: 1 (5-Star)
Sophomore: 4 (5-Star, 5-Star, 4-Star, 3-Star)
Junior: 2 (2-Star, 2-Star)
Senior: 3 (4-Star, 4-Star,2-Star)
The upperclassmen weren’t very highly touted, but the underclassmen are loaded with talent. It’s not the likeliest roster breakdown, but it’s not too different from the one John Calipari inherited from Kentucky with the exception his star studded class was his freshman class, not sophomore.
Jameson is a social media editor for CBSSports.com. He graduated from Syracuse University in 2009 after covering college hoops for three years during college. You can find him on Twitter @JamesonFleming. Follow @CHJournal on Twitter.