Ranking the best guards in college basketball
As the college basketball world prepares for the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, the collective has yet to reach a consensus on who is the best player in America.
The conversation starts with Iowa center Luke Garza and Dayton forward Obi Toppin, but there are a handful of guards who could spark a memorable run through March that catapults them into the conversation for the Wooden Award.
6. Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois)
The Fighting Illini are back under Brad Underwood. Freshman Kofi Cockburn has been a pleasant surprise in the paint, while Ayo Dosunmu has carried a heavy load as the lead guard.
Illinois fans feared they would lose him for the season, when he injured his knee in the final seconds against Michigan State. Since an MRI revealed no structural damage, Dosunmu has put the team on his back. He led the Illini to five wins in six games and scored 19.6 points per game.
5. Malachi Flynn (San Diego State)
San Diego State was undefeated for most of the 2019-2020 season, thanks to Malachi Flynn. The junior point guard averaged 17.6 points, 5.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game to propel the Aztecs to a 30-2 record.
There’s one big question around Flynn and the entire SDSU team. Did the Mountain West prepare them for the NCAA Tournament? Dayton does not hear the question as loudly, because of an impressive performance in an overtime loss to Kansas at the Maui Invitational. Fans are already skeptical of West Coast basketball, and that skepticism is amplified even more than usual around this SDSU team.
4. Cassius Winston (Michigan State)
The consensus preseason player of the year has been solid through a tumultuous season, and Tom Izzo has the Spartans playing well at the right time. Winston is the straw that stirs their drink, albeit in a manner that does not pop off the page quite like some of his backcourt competition.
3/2. Markus Howard (Marquette) and Myles Powell (Seton Hall)
I can’t pick between two of the best scorers in the history of the Big East. Howard owns the Marquette and Big East scoring record after he put up 27.8 points per game in the regular season, the second straight year he has led the country in scoring. Powell has an average of 21 points per game this season. Both are a candidate to pull a Kemba Walker — get hot and carry their team to a deep postseason run.
The best part? They open Big East Tournament play against each other Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. In their prior two matchups, Howard averaged 32 points, while Powell scored 25.5 points per game. Get your popcorn ready.
1. Payton Pritchard (Oregon)
This dude has "it." When the game is on the line late, there is no one I trust more with the ball. He is not afraid to take the big shot. He also is willing to make the selfless hustle play to energize his team. Even if Oregon falls behind, you cannot count out a team that has Pritchard leading the way.