Luke Winn's Top 15 NCAA Backcourts
Stephen Curry (pictured), Jason Richards, Max Paulhus Gosselin<br><br>Curry was the nation's biggest freshman surprise in '06-07. The Son of Dell was overlooked by ACC schools but made an instant impact as a prolific scorer for the Wildcats, averaging 21.5 points per game as they won the Southern Conference title. Richards, meanwhile, is the heart of the 'Cats -- a highly underrated point guard who racked up 249 assists against only 106 turnovers, and logged a team-high 34.3 minutes per game.
A.J. Graves (pictured), Mike Green, Julian Betko, Drew Streicher<br><br>The Bulldogs' Sweet 16 trip last season was no fluke; in Graves, Green and Betko they have perhaps the savviest backcourt trio in the country. Graves, Butler's leading scorer, was second in the nation in free throw shooting; while team assist leader Mike Green, a Philadelphia product, brings an East Coast toughness to the point. Betko, a glue guy who transferred to the Bulldogs from Clemson in 2004, was recently granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA and will be a valuable part of the attack.
Scottie Reynolds (pictured), Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Reggie Redding, Malcolm Grant<br><br>Reynolds, a late addition to the Cats' roster last season after he was released from his commitment to Oklahoma, blossomed into one of the Big East's top freshmen, averaging 18.4 points per game in conference play. Now he's joined by the "Coreys" -- two of the country's best prep guards. Fisher, an ultra-quick point, should help handle some of the ballhandling heat and create open looks for Reynolds, while Stokes is an excellent perimeter shooter who will keep defenses honest.
Drew Neitzel (pictured), Travis Walton, Kalin Lucas, Chris Allen, Durrell Summers, Isaiah Dahlman<br><br>Neitzel, the Spartans' veteran workhorse and Wooden Award candidate, finally has some backup in his backcourt. The additions of four-star freshmen Lucas, Allen and Summers should free up some of the defensive heat on Neitzel, who was relentlessly hounded by double-teams as a junior, yet still managed to score 18.1 points per game.
Bryce Taylor (pictured), Tajuan Porter, Malik Hairston <br><br>The Ducks should be able to get by without Aaron Brooks, the clutch point guard whose monster senior season propelled him into the first round of the NBA Draft. Taylor, Porter and Hairston are all high-quality perimeter scorers; the key will be whether the the pint-sized Porter, who's capable of putting up 30 points on any given night, can fill a more traditional point-guard role as a sophomore.
O.J. Mayo, Daniel Hackett (pictured), Angelo Johnson, Dwight Lewis <br><br>Hackett may start the season from the sideline after getting his jaw broken -- by Mayo's elbow -- during a workout late last month. Once healed, he and O.J. could turn into an electric duo that will have the Trojans in the thick of the Pac-10 race. Johnson, a late addition to the roster, should add valuable ballhandling depth off the bench.
D.J. Augustin (pictured), A.J. Abrams, Justin Mason<br><br>The Longhorns have a talented, albeit undersized, one-two punch in Augustin and Abrams, who thrived as supporting actors in the Kevin Durant Show last season. Many of D.J.'s & A.J.'s open looks and driving lanes were available because of heavy defensive attention on Durant, though. Can they still be effective scorers now that they're the focal point of the offense?
Edgar Sosa (pictured), Terrence Williams, Jerry Smith, Andre McGee <br><br>Sosa's massive potential was on display in the NCAA tournament, where he upstaged Texas A&M All America Acie Law and nearly knocked the second-seeded Aggies out of the dance. Williams, who's listed as a forward but projects as a two guard in the NBA, struggled from beyond the arc in '06-07, but after making huge strides in the offseason, could emerge as an All-Big East talent.
(From left) Chris Lofton, Ramar Smith, JaJuan Smith, Josh Tabb (not pictured) <br><br>Lofton stayed out of the NBA Draft to take a shot at a national title -- and possibly the Wooden Award -- as a senior. He's the best pure shooter in the country. Look for Ramar Smith, meanwhile, to have a breakout season at the point after steadily improving at the position as a freshman.
Darren Collison (pictured), Josh Shipp, Russell Westbrook, Michael Roll <br><br>Clutch two guard and lock-down defender Arron Afflalo is gone to the Pistons, but the Bruin backcourt remains at an elite level. Collison may be the nation's top all-around point guard, while Westbrook is a fleet-footed backup. The oft-injured Shipp, who started at the three last season, has potential to be a solid scorer at the two if he can remain healthy for an entire season.
Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington (pictured), Bobby Frasor, Quentin Thomas <br><br>Bruising power forward Tyler Hansbrough is the Tar Heels' biggest star, but Lawson and Ellington should become a devastating 1-2 duo as sophomores. They were one disastrous overtime (against Georgetown) away from getting valuable Final Four experience as freshmen, and probably won't be denied it this time around. Frasor, a former starter who took on an auxiliary role after Lawson's arrival, may be the nation's savviest backup point.
Derrick Low, Kyle Weaver (pictured), Tyler Rochestie, Nikola Koprivica <br><br>Low and Weaver earned national cred this summer by emerging from a loaded Pan-American Games tryout camp to make the U.S.' final 12-man roster, beating out the likes of Kansas' Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins, Tennessee's Chris Lofton and Marquette's Jerel McNeal and Wes Matthews. In the Pan-Am tournament in Brazil, Low was credited with sparking the Americans' rally to a fifth-place finish after a dismal 0-2 start.
Dominic James (pictured), Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews, David Cubillan, Maurice Acker <br><br>Coach Tom Crean may be compelled to play four-guard lineups, what with the addition of Acker -- a former MAC rookie of the year at Ball State -- to an already loaded backcourt. James was panned at the NBA Pre-Draft camp in June but is still a high-quality scoring point at the college level. And McNeal, whose late-season thumb injury doomed the Golden Eagles in the NCAA tournament, should once again be the Big East's best defender.
Derrick Rose, Willie Kemp (pictured), Chris Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson, Andre Allen, Doneal Mack<br><br>A talented crew, already five deep, added the country's top prep point guard, Derrick Rose. He'll pilot an offense that should once again shred Conference USA -- and this time get the Tigers into the Final Four. Never mind the apparent logjam at the point, either: Rose is going to start from Day One of what may be his only year under John Calipari.
Mario Chalmers (pictured), Brandon Rush, Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins<br><br>As the result of an offseason knee injury to Rush that kept him out of the NBA Draft, this quartet remains improbably intact. They're the core of a team that was playing the nation's best basketball in the lead-up to the 2007 NCAA tournament -- and then stumbled in the Elite Eight to UCLA. Anything less than a Final Four with this group will be a colossal disappointment.<br><br>Send comments to email@example.com.