In the deluge of preseason college basketball content, bloated with list after list, I always look forward to CBS Sports' Top 100 (and One) Players list.
Looking back after a given season, the list is fairly accurate and often proves to have identified several "diamonds in the rough" who did not receive significant preseason hype (e.g., Terran Petteway, Ron Baker, and Delon Wright in 2014 and Gary Harris and Rodney Hood in 2013, among others).
No list -- especially one so large -- is infallible, but I've always considered Parrish, et al. to balance the two general prevailing schools of thought regarding college basketball player evaluation.
The first is the progressive school, with an eye solely towards talent, and often with an emphasis on how high a prospect will eventually be selected in the NBA Draft. A list from this type of individual would be littered with one-and-dones. The second is the more traditionalist school, which values upperclassmen with leadership qualities.
Using the general 2007-2008 Player of the Year discussion as a practical illustration, the first school almost certainly tabbed freshman phenom Michael Beasley from Kansas State, whereas the second school chose eventual winner, Tyler Hansbrough, the senior from UNC.
This year's CBS Sports list includes three freshmen, one sophomore, one junior, and five seniors.
As for 2015 Kentucky Wildcats, combo guard Jamal Murray checks in at #5, versatile big man Skal Labissiere makes it at #6, point guard whiz Tyler Ulis checks in at #33 and forward Alex Poythress lands at #87. Former 'Cat and offensive savant Kyle Wiltjer also made the list at #4.
As for Wiltjer, after his two years at UK, did you ever expect to see the following written about him?
Wiltjer is an amazing offensive player who averaged 16.8 points and 6.2 rebounds last season while shooting 54.0 percent from the field, 46.6 percent from 3-point range and 78.9 percent from the free throw line. The Kentucky transfer is the CBS Sports Preseason National Player of the Year and more than capable of leading Gonzaga to another WCC title.
I'm thrilled for Wiltjer. He's really blossomed after putting in a lot of work.
I have a number of quibbles with the list, mostly minor. Here are some quick UK-centric thoughts:
1. Tyler Ulis is ranked too low. While I (as an objective and incessant watcher of college basketball) don't believe he's worthy of the top 25, I strongly believe that he's much more talented than several PGs in front of him, including Yogi Ferrell (IU), Denzel Valentine (MSU, who apparently is transitioning into playing more minutes at PG), Marcus Paige (UNC), and Melo Trimble (Maryland). I'd say that Trimble is the most overrated player appearing on this list and Ulis is the most underrated.
2. I don't like Poythress being so low, but it's probably fair. His knee injury makes him a genuine question mark.
3. Though I think an argument can be made either way, this is one of the few preseason lists I've read that slots Murray ahead of Labissiere. What do you think?
Though the CBS guys have a decent track record with respect to this annual list, sports lists are made to destroy, so have at it.