Tuesday October 6th, 2015

It's the most difficult position to define—and to defend. A wing can crash the glass or lead a fast break. He can guard the post or close out on a shooter on the perimeter. In alphabetical order, here are our projected top 20 wings for the 2015-16 season:

Best wings in college hoops
 
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    AP

    Height: 6'6"
    Weight: 210
    Class: Junior
     
    Only two players in Division I logged a higher percentage of available minutes than Bembry (95) last season, according to kenpom.com. What did he do during those minutes? Bembry rated out as the Hawks’ leader in usage rate, defensive rebounding percentage, assist rate and steal rate. He also knocked down 36% of his three-point attempts during Atlantic 10 play. Bembry—who reportedly made a strong impression at the Nike Basketball Academy this summer—projects as one of the conference’s top players this season.

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    Height: 6'6"
    Weight: 207
    Class: Sophomore
     
    Bluiett shone as a freshman last season while helping the Musketeers post 23 wins, earn a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament and reach the Sweet 16 (where they lost a close game to No. 2 seed Arizona). He validated big-time recruiting hype last season; this season he’ll be an important part of Xavier’s effort to replace the production of its top player, senior big man Matt Stainbrook. With Stainbrook—the Musketeers’ leading scorer and a second-team all Big East performer—gone, don’t be surprised if Bluiett takes on more responsibility as a shot creator.

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    Height: 6'6"
    Weight: 225
    Class: Sophomore
     
    After a promising freshman season at Oregon, Brooks impressed with Canada at the FIBA U19 World Championships in Crete this summer. He ranked second at the tournament in points per game and also got to the free throw line at a high rate. Brooks’s scoring ability will serve the Ducks well this season as they look to replace guard Joseph Young, who finished second in the Pac-12 during conference play in percentage of shots taken in 2015, according to kenpom.com. Coach Dana Altman could use Brooks as a small forward or power forward.

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    Height: 6'7"
    Weight: 225
    Class: Freshman
     
    Brown rebuffed a host of scholarship offers from high-major heavyweights to commit to a program that has not advanced beyond the Round of 32 in the NCAAs since 1997. The Wheeler (Ga.) product has drawn comparisons to former Arizona standout and Detroit Pistons 2015 first-round draft pick Stanley Johnson. Brown could also go one-and-done—the scouting website DraftExpress projects him as the No. 3 pick in the 2016 draft—but first he’ll have a chance to push the Golden Bears to the top of the Pac-12 standings.

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    Height: 6'6"
    Weight: 200
    Class: Senior
     
    After enduring a rough first run through the Big East in 2014, Butler rebounded in 2015 by finishing third in the conference with a 12-6 record and earning a No. 6 seed in the NCAAs. The turnaround coincided with an uptick in performance from Dunham, who raised his offensive rating to 117.0 from 101.9, according to kenpom.com; his three-point shooting percentage to 41 from 35; and his free-throw shooting percentage to 85 from 80. In his final college season, Dunham could propel Butler to another top-tier finish in the Big East.

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    AP

    Height: 6'7"
    Weight: 220
    Class: Sophomore
     
    No team in the Big Ten will be able to match Purdue’s depth in the frontcourt this season: The Boilermakers return sophomore Isaac Haas (7'2", 282 pounds) and senior A.J. Hammons (7'0", 250 pounds) and added five-star recruit Caleb Swanigan (6'9", 250 pounds). Yet appraising the Boilermakers as a “team with a lot of size” is reductive. Edwards can bend defenses with his scoring and playmaking, and his versatility will give coach Matt Painter flexibility when trying to craft lineups incorporating three hulking big men with limited shooting range.

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    AP

    Height: 6'7"
    Weight: 190
    Class: Sophomore
     
    UConn coach Kevin Ollie will need to figure out how to replace scoring (19.5/40 mins) and usage (27.2%) leader Ryan Boatright. The addition of Seton Hall graduate transfer Sterling Gibbs will help, but expect Hamilton to become a bigger part of the Huskies’ offense. He showed last season why he’s ready for more: During American Athletic Conference play, Hamilton led all Huskies in possession percentage (26.9) while posting team highs in assist rate (30.8) and defensive rebounding percentage (28.3), according to kenpom.com.

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    Height: 6'5"
    Weight: 205
    Class: Junior
     
    At point guard this season, the Wildcats will feature the co-Big East Player of the Year (senior Ryan Arcidiacono) as well as a five-star recruit and projected draft pick (Jalen Brunson) who looks like he could start for most teams. Yet while Villanova’s wealth of talent and depth in the backcourt will give opponents fits, the Wildcats also will have a skilled small forward (Hart) knocking down three-point shots and crashing the glass. Hart also will help Villanova overcome the loss of All-Big East performer and leading scorer Darrun Hilliard II.

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    Height: 6'7"
    Weight: 195
    Class: Junior
     
    After playing two seasons at Houston, House transferred to Texas A&M in 2014 and was granted immediate eligibility. He flashed the skills that made him a five-star recruit in the class of 2012 against tougher competition while also improving his three-point shooting. House knocked down 41% of his long-range attempts during SEC play before suffering a foot injury that caused him to miss the conference tournament as well as the Aggies’ run in the NIT. This season he’ll help Texas A&M push for its first tourney berth since 2011.

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    Height: 6'9"
    Weight: 190
    Class: Freshman
     
    Ingram has never played in college, but Duke will need him to contribute in a big way this season after watching three of the top players on its national championship team (Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones) become first-round draft picks. The No. 4 player in the class of 2015, according to the RSCI, Ingram wowed scouts in high school with his combination of length (6'9", 7'3" wingspan) and perimeter skills. How well that translates to the ACC is up for debate, but we’re confident Ingram will produce at least a few highlight dunks.

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    Height: 6'8"
    Weight: 193
    Class: Sophomore
     
    Jackson arrived in Chapel Hill last season as a consensus top-15 recruit in the class of 2014, but he didn’t garner as much attention as some of his freshman peers even though he plays for a blueblood program that posted a top-five finish in arguably the nation’s toughest conference, earned a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16. That’s likely to change this season, because Jackson—a possible first-round pick in this year’s draft had he declared—should be one of the top scorers on a national championship contender.

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    Getty

    Height: 6'9"
    Weight: 220
    Class: Senior
     
    Layman may have been selected late in the first round of the 2015 draft had he elected to forgo his senior season with the Terrapins. Instead, he returned to help lead a team that should begin the season ranked in the top three of the polls. Last season Layman improved his shooting percentages both inside and outside of the arc, rebounded at a higher rate on both ends of the floor and remained an efficient scorer while shouldering a larger possession load. Expect him to make another leap in 2015-16.

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    Getty

    Height: 6'6"
    Weight: 222
    Class: Senior
     
    Utah would do well to give center Jakob Poeltl the ball as much as possible this season. Yet the Utes can also call on one of the Pac-12’s top shooters in Loveridge. The senior ranked among the top 10 in the conference during conference play last season in three-point field goal percentage, free throw percentage, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage, according to kenpom.com. Loveridge also could see his scoring opportunities increase this season following the departure of All-Pac-12 guard Delon Wright.

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    Height: 6'10"
    Weight: 205
    Class: Sophomore
     
    Pope’s inclusion on this list is based more on potential than production. A five-star recruit in the class of 2014, according to Rivals.com, Pope got off to a slow start as a freshman after suffering multiple leg injuries that caused him to sit out his senior season at Laguna Creek (Calif.) High. At times in 2014-15 he flashed star potential—like when he dropped 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting against Colorado State in January—but looked disengaged at others. Pope just needs to become more consistent, which is easier in theory than in practice.

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    Height: 6'8"
    Weight: 230
    Class: Senior
     
    Did you forget about Poythress? That’s understandable, as he played only eight games in 2014-15 before tearing his left ACL. But Kentucky will need Poythress, a rising senior, this season after watching seven players enter the draft—including the top overall pick (Karl-Anthony Towns) and four lottery selections (Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker). Depending on how Poythress recovered from the injury, he should be able to help the Wildcats with his defense and rebounding.

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    AP

    Height: 6'7"
    Weight: 220
    Class: Senior
     
    It’s not hard to see why Prince didn’t get as much attention as he deserved last season. All of those high-stakes Big 12 games just began blending together at some point. Yet consider that, according to kenpom.com, Prince ranked in the top 10 in the conference during conference play in the following categories: effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, offensive rating, usage rate and steal rate—all while knocking down 37.4% of his threes. This season Prince should be able to lead the Bears to their third consecutive tourney appearance.

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    AP

    Height: 6'8"
    Weight: 195
    Class: Sophomore
     
    Florida failed to qualify for the NCAAs last season for the first time since 2009. Then the Gators waved farewell to their second-leading scorer (Michael Frazier) and longtime coach (Billy Donovan). Robinson can help new coach Michael White get the Gators back in the big dance if he can build on a 2014-15 season that saw him earn SEC All-freshman honors. White likely will count on point guard Kasey Hill and forward Dorian Finney-Smith for scoring, but a leap from Robinson, a former five-star recruit, would give the Gators more balance.

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    Getty

    Height: 6'4"
    Weight: 230
    Class: Sophomore
     
    Tate is not a traditional wing; he functions more like an undersized power forward. To wit: Last season, Tate—who’s listed at 6'4", 225 pounds—led all Buckeyes who averaged at least 12 minutes per game in offensive rebounding percentage, according to kenpom.com, and attempted more than 70% of his shots at the rim, per hoop-math.com. With D’Angelo Russell off to the NBA, Ohio State will need to reorient its offense absent one of the nation’s best perimeter scorers. Tate figures to be a critical part of that process.

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    Getty

    Height: 6'7"
    Weight: 215
    Class: Junior
     
    For Indiana to realize its potential as a Big Ten contender and top-15 team nationally, it will need Williams to perform as well or better than he did last season. That won’t be easy: In 2014-15 Williams increased his scoring efficiency while taking on a larger shot-creation load and was Indiana’s top rebounder. One area in which Williams could improve is his shooting (he’s attempted only 42 threes over two seasons). Even if that doesn’t happen, the Hoosiers will be equipped with an abundance of long-range firepower to go with Williams’ slashing ability.

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    Getty

    Height: 6'10"
    Weight: 240
    Class: Senior
     
    Few players blended shot volume and efficiency as effectively as Wiltjer did in 2014-15. In his first season eligible with the Zags after transferring from Kentucky, Wiltjer connected on 46.6% of his threes while leading his team in usage rate (27.6), according to sports-reference.com. Wiltjer’s production powered Gonzaga to another West Coast Conference title and 25-plus-win season. As a senior, he’s in position to compete for national player of the year awards while anchoring arguably the nation’s top frontcourt.

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