It can be tough to draw a distinction sometimes between the shooting guard and small forward positions at the collegiate level. So often these two spots are interchangeable, labeled simply as the two perimeter players not running the point position. With that in mind, some of the players listed here may be considered as small forwards by some, while the small forward list may contain players that are often used as shooting guards. One thing isn’t in question about this list though; all of these players are or will be big time scorers and playmakers.
Pick Six: Top SG's
Throughout the week, check back for articles highlighting the Top 6 players at each position. Tomorrow we’ll be rolling out the Top 6 at shooting guard.
1. Stephen Curry – Davidson
Curry isn’t the best pro prospect on this list; heck he might not crack the top three depending on team needs. There is no question though; the pint sized scoring assassin from the SoCon is one of the best returning players in the country, and certainly the most electrifying. Curry is a lights out shooter and a threat to fire seemingly as soon as he crosses half court. He shot a ridiculous 43.9% from beyond the arc on 10.3 three-point attempts per game last season, the third highest percentage of anyone who attempted at least 7 shots per game from this range. He is equally dangerous inside the arc, able to knock down tough shots off the dribble regardless of how tight defenders play him. Curry reminds a lot of Reggie Miller and Richard Hamilton in that he is constantly moving on the offensive end making him a nightmare for whichever defender draws him as an assignment. In a weak Southern Conference expect Curry to have big scoring numbers again this season, especially with little offensive support.
Stats: 25.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.9 apg
2. James Harden – Arizona State
Fans in Tempe have plenty of reason to be excited this season; they return the best player from last year’s loaded freshman class not named Blake Griffin. Harden is an old school guard in an up-tempo conference. Not blessed with tremendous athleticism (though he has improved his conditioning coming into this year) the sophomore relies on his craftiness and excellent instincts. He does very well when attacking the basket, able to read the defense and take what it gives him. His numbers don’t drop off as he moves further out either, connecting on 41% of his three-point attempts last season. The biggest area that Harden needs to improve in is shooting off the dribble; he has yet to make this a fluid part of his game. In addition, Harden shows flashes of being an above average passer for a player relied on so heavily to score points.
Stats: 17.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.2 apg
3. Demar DeRozan – USC
It may seem somewhat audacious to rank an unproven freshman as the third best shooting guard in the country, but it isn’t often a player of DeRozan’s physical ability comes along to the college game. Possessing a 6’6” frame that is capable of flying through the air, DeRozan has a plethora of highlight videos on YouTube that fully display the aerial assaults he mounted against high school defenders. Chances are this scoring machine will continue to torture defenders in the Pac-10 with his combination of freakish athleticism and excellent perimeter shooting. Still not sold on DeRozan as a big time college player? Ask his teammates about the 29 points he dropped on them just a few days ago in USC’s first open scrimmage.
Stats: DNP Freshman
4. Wayne Ellington – North Carolina
Ellington may be a surprise pick to some people because he doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking of the elite shooting guards in the country. When you look at the numbers and the tape though, the junior becomes a no-brainer for this list. Ellington made great strides in his development last season, adding all kinds of wrinkles to his offensive arsenal. He improved in every single statistical category last year as he took on a greater role for the Tar Heels, getting touches on nearly 20% of Carolina’s possessions last year. While he doesn’t do anything extraordinarily well, Ellington does a lot of things very solidly. He is a good perimeter shooter, slashes to the basket well and has continued to improve his mid-range game, adding a pretty pull up jumper as last season progressed. In all, he has one of the most well developed offensive games in the ACC regardless of position.
Stats: 16.6 rpg, 4.5 rpg, 2.0 apg
5. Lester Hudson – Tennessee-Martin
Hudson was one of the most interesting stories in college basketball last season; his game was one of the most impressive. This is a guy who absolutely fills up every square inch of a box score; the quintessential stat sheet stuffer. In addition to finishing 5th in the country with 25.7 points per night, Hudson chipped in 7.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.8 steals. While he isn’t very tall for an off-guard at 6’3” (although some reports have him a couple of inches shorter) Hudson has a huge wingspan which allows him to play much bigger than he actually is. Offensively he has all kinds of weapons at his disposal. Showing a fantastic ability to create for himself off the dribble, Hudson is equally dangerous from the perimeter and mid-range. While he can attack the rim as well, he is more of a perimeter player at this point. He may not project well as a pro prospect, but he has the physical capabilities to dominate at the college level as he has shown.
Stats: 25.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 4.5 apg
6. Dionte Christmas – Temple
Often overshadowed by other Atlantic-10 stars like Pat Calathes and Gary Forbes, Christmas put together a fantastic junior season. The 6’5” guard has a very perimeter oriented game, with eight of his fourteen shot attempts coming from beyond the arc last season. Christmas shows a quick release and the ability to get his shot off from essentially anywhere on the floor, although his shot selection isn’t always the greatest. His great length allowed him to pull down nearly six rebounds per game, a great number for a player who spends so much time away from the hoop. While his statistics may not show it, Christmas is also a solid passer, possessing good court vision and instincts. With teammate Mark Tyndale having graduated, expect to see even more looks this year for Christmas, and likely some additional attention from defenders.
Stats: 19.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.5 apg
Next in line: Tyreke Evans, Memphis; Gerald Henderson, Duke; Robert Vaden, UAB; Patrick Christopher, California.
Tomorrow: Small Forwards
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