- John Gasaway, ESPN Insider
Since I posted my first list of the top 25 players in Division I, Syracuse has replaced Arizona as the nation's No. 1 team, Marcus Smart has been suspended for three games, and projected No. 1 overall draft pick Joel Embiid has been classified as injured by his coach. All of this means that a lot has changed in three short weeks. Time for a new ranking of the game's best players.
Remember the premise behind this list. Let's pretend for a moment that the NBA doesn't exist, and so projected draft order doesn't figure into this conversation at all -- there is no draft! In the here and now, which players have helped their college teams the most? This list constitutes my answer to that question, with help from a number of sources, including but not limited to:
• The excellent individual player stats generated by Ken Pomeroy at kenpom.com
• Data on play-by-play performance collected by Jeff Haley and available at hoop-math.com
• Translations that project NBA performance based on college metrics, compiled and maintained by my Insider colleague Kevin Pelton
• Win Shares data available from sports-reference.com
One final note: I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Big 12 in all of its disciplinary actions, so Smart is temporarily suspended from my list. We'll see where he checks in when 3.0 hits your screen.
To my eyes, these are the 25 best players in the country right now:
Note: Statistics as of Feb. 11.
Maybe the best measure of what McDermott has been able to accomplish is that apparently we no longer have the capacity to be surprised by what he does. Name me another player in the country that could have averaged 32 points per game over his past three outings and done it so, well, quietly?
And it has been an efficient 32 points per game. Over that stretch, the senior has hit 56 percent of his 2-pointers, 41 percent of his 3-pointers and 87 percent of his free throws. Those numbers, of course, are very close to McDermott's undeniably excellent season totals, and therein lies his status as the best player in college basketball. Creighton's star is able to achieve these exceptionally high levels of efficiency while absorbing enough possessions and launching enough shots to be a 30-point-per-game scorer. He's taking more shots than ever for the Bluejays, but he's the same old highly accurate star we've come to expect. Creighton might have the best offense in the country not named "Duke," and that is largely the doing of the best player in the country, Doug McDermott.
John Gasaway ranks the top 25 players in college basketball this season, with Creighton forward Doug McDermott at No. 1.