The talented senior; it’s become an endangered species in college basketball with the top underclassmen leaving each year for NBA riches. This year’s group however is loaded with future NBA players in the frontcourt and the backcourt. These players will be expected to lead their teams deep into March and will be ready to make an immediate impact on the pro level next fall.
Pick Six: Top Seniors
CHN's Pick Six series highlights the Top 6 players by position, league, and class.
1. Tyler Hansbrough – North Carolina
The best senior in the country, the best player in the country; period. When his time in Chapel Hill is done, Hansbrough will likely have put together one of the most impressive 4-year runs at the college level of the last 25 years. He’s in position to become the ACC’s all-time leading scorer and if his production stays consistent is almost a shoe in for his third appearance on the AP All-American team. The only thing that had eluded this kid is a national championship, and Carolina has never looked this strong in Hansbrough’s time with the program.
2. Darren Collison – UCLA
The country’s best point guard is looking for another trip to the Final Four. Collison is one of the quickest players around and while he doesn’t have much trouble getting past defenders into the lane, he is ever more dangerous when given room to shoot on the perimeter. The floor general is the top returning on ball defender in the Pac-10 and will be looked at to lead a team of young talent through a solid conference schedule.
3. AJ Price – Connecticut
Price finely was able to put together a full season for the Huskies and proved to be a big time player. At points last year (particularly UConn’s 10-game win streak) the point guard was the second best player in a loaded Big East. Equally adept at putting up big scoring numbers or setting up teammates with open looks, Price will once again be one of the top performers in his conference this year, and a potential All-American at season’s end.
4. Tyrese Rice – Boston College
No player may do more for his team than Rice. Last season he was expected not only to run the show as a point guard, but was relied on to post big scoring numbers on a nightly basis. Rice was up to the challenge, and with a weak support system surrounding him, don’t expect much to change this year. One of the most versatile scoring guards around, Rice can light it up from the outside, or break down defenders off the dribble. He shows a nice repertoire of shots inside the lane which he can get off against larger defenders. With another big year, Rice will bring his game to the NBA next year.
5. Sam Young – Pittsburgh
Few players saw as big of an improvement from their sophomore to junior seasons as Young. A physical specimen, Young overpowers defenders and can explode over most players for thunderous dunks. He made great strides offensively last year, showing a pretty quick first step and improving his mid-range jumper. His perimeter shooting proved to be better last year as well; now he needs to work on his handles in order to be a more complete offensive weapon.
6. Robert Vaden – UAB
This mid-major scoring machine is one of the top shooters in the country, hitting 40% of his nearly 11 three-point attempts per game. This is a guy who just knows how to get himself scoring opportunities. More than simply a player who camps out on the perimeter, Vaden does an excellent job of moving off the ball and reading defenses. He has a strong upper body which allows him to handle contact when going to the basket, but he lacks much creativity when taking defenders off the dribble.
Next in Line: Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga; Jon Brockman, Washington; Jack McClinton, Miami; Eric Maynor, VCU; Jerel McNeal, Marquette
Agree? Disagree? Let's hear who you think belongs on this list!