Over the past week, Sporting News has given their top ten at each position out of all the players in college basketball. Not surprisingly, Duke players did quite well. Sporting News obviously knows their college basketball, and I do agree with most of their rankings. It is a very subjective ranking, but I do think they did very well overall.
In some what of a surprise, Quinn Cook did not make the top ten. Most Duke fans believe he should have been included, but many of the players ahead of Cook are simply more talented. Marcus Smart, Andrew Harrison, Yogi Ferrell, Jahii Carson, Shebazz Napier, Aaron Craft, Kevin Pangos, Joe Jackson all are worthy of being rated in front of Cook. The two players I would argue Quinn Cook is better than are TJ McConnell and Chris Jones. TJ McConnell and Quinn Cook both had similar sophomore seasons, but McConnell did it at Duquesne. Against better competition, it is unsure how well McConnell will play. This is a similar scenario with Chris Jones, except he was at Northwest Florida State. Although both McConnell and Jones have a higher ceiling then Cook, Cook is a much more steady player. I believe that Cook should have been rated ninth, but I do understand why he was not included.
Duke’s sophomore shooting guard, Rasheed Sulaimon, was ranked third among shooting guards. He was only rated behind Gary Harris and Russ Smith. I think the third ranking is very fair for Sulaimon as there is a severe drop off after the first three players. Russ Smith and Gary Harris are both extremely skilled players that I would also rank over Sulaimon. Overall, I have no complaints calling Rasheed Sulaimon the third best shooting guard in the country.
After sitting out the year due to red-shirting, Rodney Hood was actually ranked third out of the small forwards. I agree with the ranking, but not necessarily the order of everyone around him. Andrew Wiggins is deserving of the number one spot, but I don’t believe PJ Hairston is deserving of number two. I still think that Hood should stay at three though, with fourth ranked Glenn Robinson jumping over Rodney Hood. The small forward spot has much more competition then shooting guard, but I believe Hood is deserving of the third spot. With many talented players around him, he will have to prove himself that he is actually the third best small forward in the country.
As the highest rated of all Duke players, freshman Jabari Parker is ranked second among the power forwards. The only player ranked ahead of him is Creighton’s Doug McDermott. I agree with McDermott being ahead as they are similar offensive play styles but McDermott has three extra years of experience. There are many other extremely talented power forwards that I was surprised Sporting News ranked behind Parker due to Parker’s youth. Seniors CJ Fair and Adrian Payne were ranked four and five, and their experience advantage may have been overlooked. Either way, Parker definitely deserves to be at least top five, and is talented enough to back up his number two ranking. He will definitely have to have a great season to prove Sporting News correct though.
Not surprisingly, no Duke centers made it into the top ten. Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson are just too raw, un-experienced and just not talented enough to make the list. This list did give me some hope for this years season. Their were very few centers on that list that overly impressed me. This is key for Duke because very few teams will be able to capitalize on Duke’s biggest weakness. After a year of many talented bigs, this year is just not the case, including Duke’s centers.
Overall, I took a positive outlook away from these rankings. Although Quinn Cook was not included, Duke’s “Big Three” of Sulaimon, Hood, and Parker were all in the top three at their respective positions. Their are very few teams that will be able to compete with Duke’s athleticism and ability to attack the rim. Sporting News seems to think Duke is in store for a good season, let’s just hope they are right.
On Monday, I will have an article about whether Duke recruit Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook will be able to form a solid back court. There have been some questions of late whether these two point guards would be able to start in the same back court. Let me know what you think about a potential Cook and Jones back-court and the Sporting News position rankings.