- Fran Fraschilla, College Basketball
There is an age-old argument among coaches about players who have one great skill versus players who are good, if not great, at a multitude of basketball skills. My preference? There's room for both.
Not surprisingly, because their versatility helps their teams win, almost all of the players I've selected as the most versatile in the country come from very successful basketball programs. A few will play in the NBA, some will help teams to deep NCAA runs this season and a couple are names you might not have heard of before but will before long.
This is by no means a comprehensive list -- there is a jack-of-all-trades on nearly every successful team -- but these are 10 who really stand out in my eyes:
Robbie Hummel, 6-8, Sr., Purdue
Hummel is clearly Purdue's most valuable player and, aside from overcoming a season-ending knee injury sustained earlier this year, his strengths remain the same. Call him what you want -- a forward, a combo forward, a hybrid forward -- but Hummel gets a lot of things done for the Boilermakers. He's got the strength, size and physical toughness to score and rebound inside. And in Matt Painter's motion offense, he can float on the perimeter and knock down jump shots. On a team that has two other outstanding seniors, Hummel is the cornerstone to me.
Orlando Johnson, 6-5, Jr., UC Santa Barbara
The reigning Big West Player of the Year on the reigning Big West champs, Johnson is a rugged, 6-foot-5 swingman with an old-school game. Listed as a guard, he can post up inside, shoot the 3 and play off the dribble. He led the Gauchos to an NCAA tournament bid a season ago, dropping 20 points and five rebounds on Ohio State in a first-round loss. As one of four starters back for UCSB, Johnson is one of those guys who is capable of engineering an upset or two during March Madness.
Terrence Jones, 6-7, Fr., Kentucky
With freshman Brandon Knight getting much of the preseason hype and Turkish import Enes Kanter still in NCAA eligibility limbo, John Calipari's most important newcomer may be Jones. He is a ridiculously gifted and skilled athlete who may be the Wildcats' best playmaker and scorer this season. And because UK's front-line depth is so shallow, Jones may have to play around the basket some, as well. Ultimately, look for him to have a fabulous freshman season and follow the program's current one-and-done formula into next June's NBA draft.
Jon Leuer, 6-10, Sr., Wisconsin
Leuer may not have the versatility to play in Bo Ryan's backcourt, but he is perfect for Wisconsin's swing offense because it allows him to utilize his scoring inside and his deft shooting touch from the perimeter. This summer was a coming-out party for the 6-10 senior because he was impressive playing for the U.S. select team of college players that practiced against Mike Krzyzewski's senior men's national team. Remember, Leuer was a part-time starter as a sophomore and was injured two-thirds of the way through his junior year, so there is still a lot of room for improvement.
David Lighty, 6-6, Sr., Ohio State
If experience counts for anything, then you understand how important Lighty has been to the Buckeyes since being a part of the 2007 Final Four run. The fifth-year senior provides so many tangible and intangible qualities to Thad Matta's team. He's an excellent defender, a good rebounder for his size, a very good scorer around the rim and an improved outside shooter. And on a team with potent scorers like Jon Diebler, William Buford and outstanding freshman Jared Sullinger, he'll always be a willing passer. Ultimately, the sum total of all of his strengths helps a good team win big.
Chandler Parsons, 6-9, Sr., Florida
Parsons' combination of size and mobility makes him hard to guard in the SEC, as he can play three positions on the floor. While not a great shooter, he makes just enough behind the arc (36 percent) to open up his driving game. And when he does get to the rim, he's got excellent vision and solid passing skills. In addition, his two buzzer-beating shots from last season make him someone SEC defenses will have to be aware of on a team that returns all five starters. If Parsons continues to improve, an NBA career is within the realm of possibility.
Kyle Singler, 6-9, Sr., Duke
Singler is the king of my jack-of-all-trades team. Why wouldn't he be? Over his outstanding career, he's won games for Duke in so many different ways. Not many players in college basketball can do all of the things he can do offensively. In fact, with the plethora of guards that Coach K has at his disposal, it will be interesting to see how Singler is utilized this season. He's a matchup nightmare at the power forward spot, and a nightmare in general for ACC coaches. The National Player of the Year front-runner will definitely get some graduation presents from those coaches after he finally departs Durham.
Brad Wanamaker, 6-4, Sr., Pittsburgh
Wanamaker is the epitome of why Pittsburgh has enjoyed so much basketball success over the past decade. He provides versatility, toughness and defense at three different positions on the floor for Jamie Dixon's club. I have no doubt that, if called on to play point guard or center, he wouldn't give an inch of ground to opponents. In two NCAA tournament games last March, he averaged 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Kyle Weems, 6-6, Jr., Missouri State
Weems will make a serious run at Missouri Valley Player of the Year, in no small part because of all of the ways he has helped coach Cuonzo Martin continue the winning tradition of Bears basketball. During a 24-win season, Weems led Missouri State in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks. And the baby bull shot 40 percent from the 3-point line, as well. He's typical of the undersized forward at the mid-major level that gives big-time programs fits.
Wesley Witherspoon, 6-9, Jr., Memphis
Witherspoon is one of the few players in the country who can successfully navigate all five positions if need be. While John Calipari experimented with him at the point guard position as a freshman, his true strengths come from being as versatile as a Swiss Army knife. Last season, Witherspoon averaged almost 13 points and five rebounds and shot 43 percent from behind the arc. His ballhandling lets him get anywhere on the court and his length and size can be equally effective on the defensive end. While everyone talks of the Tigers' terrific recruiting class, a big part of their success will be due to the continued improvement of Witherspoon.
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