CBT's top 20 lead guards
20. Olivier Hanlan, Boston College
Hanlon is one of the most underrated players in the country. He averaged 15.4 points as a freshman for one of the ACC’s sleeper teams.
19. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette
Payton’s numbers in the Sun Belt last season — 15.9 points, 5.6 boards, 5.5 assists, 2.4 steals — were legitimized when he made the U19 USA team.
18. Chris Jones, Louisville
Just how good will Jones end up being remains to be seen, but he has plenty of hype as the JuCo transfer tries to replace Peyton Siva.
17. Joe Jackson, Memphis
Jackson was Conference USA Player of the Year, the best player on a team that won more than 30 games and posted huge numbers — 13.6 points, 4.8 assists, 51.9% FG and 44.7% 3PT.
16. Trever Releford, Alabama
Releford’s role as a point guard will only increase this season with Alabama losing guys like Trevor Lacey and Devonta Pollard.
15. Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Grant is the best guard in one of the best perimeter attacks in the country. Eric Atkins, his back court mate, could very easily be listed here as well.
14. Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
Kelly Olynyk and Elias Harris overshadowed Pangos last season, but don’t forget about just how good he was as a freshman.
13. Deonte Burton, Nevada
The Wolf Pack won’t get much attention in the Mountain West race this season, but Burton certainly is worth watching. He averaged 16.3 points as a junior.
12. Justin Cobbs, California
With Allen Crabbe off to the professional ranks, Cobbs will get a chance to show the country how good he really is.
11. Chaz Williams, UMass
Williams nearly made the decision to go pro during the summer after averaging 15.5 points and 7.3 assists, and his return to Amherst makes the Minutemen a player in the Atlantic 10 race.
10. Kendall Williams, New Mexico
The reigning Mountain West Player of the Year will once again lead the way for the defending Mountain West champs. Williams, who scored 46 points in a win at Colorado State last season, averaged 13.3 points and 4.9 assists per game in 2012-13 and his assist-to-turnover ratio ranked third in the Mountain West.
9. Michael Dixon Jr., Memphis
Dixon didn’t play at all last season after being dismissed from the Missouri program. But his arrival at Memphis is expected to pay dividends for Josh Pastner’s Tigers, as Dixon was Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year in 2012 (13.5 ppg, 3.3 apg).
8. Semaj Christon, Xavier
Christon was phenomenal in his first year with the Musketeers, posting averages of 15.2 points and 4.6 assists. As he becomes a better shooter and cuts down his turnovers, he’ll only get better. I know Doug McDermott is in the Big East now, but don’t be surprised to see Christon in contention for Big East Player of the Year is Xavier has a big season.
7. Quinn Cook, Duke
With the senior trio of Curry, Kelly and Plumlee gone the Oak Hill Academy product will be one of the leaders for the Blue Devils. Cook took a major step forward as a sophomore, averaging 11.7 points and 5.3 assists per game and ranking second in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio.
6. Andrew Harrison, Kentucky
Kentucky fans expect things to be far different this season, with Andrew Harrison being one of the many reasons why. Andrew, teaming up with twin brother Aaron, averaged 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists as a senior in high school and is one of the nation’s best newcomers.
5. Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado
The 6-foot-6 Dinwiddie may be the best on-ball defender in America, and offensively he’s developed into one of the tougher match-ups at the position as well. Dinwiddie averaged 15.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game as a sophomore
4. Shabazz Napier, UConn
Napier was asked to lead the way for a program ineligible for postseason play last season and he certainly didn't disappoint, posting averages of 17.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. Now back in the postseason mix, the senior should receive even more national attention.
3. Aaron Craft, Ohio State
Craft’s been praised for his defensive prowess throughout his time in Columbus, and the departure of Deshaun Thomas could mean more points from the senior. As a junior Craft, whose three-pointer pushed the Buckeyes past Iowa State in the Round of 32, posted averages of 10.0 points, 4.6 assists and 2.1 steals per game.
2. Jahii Carson, Arizona State
The electric Carson was a huge reason why the Sun Devils were able to entertain thoughts of an NCAA tournament bid for much of the 2012-13 season. After averaging 18.5 points and 5.1 assists per game as a freshman, it'll be interesting to see what Carson can do for an encore as he looks to lead Arizona State to its first NCAA appearance since 2009.
1. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
Smart surprised more than a few people with his decision to return to Stillwater for his sophomore campaign, and he's a big reason why the Cowboys are expected to contend in the Big 12. Smart averaged 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game as a freshman, and he should be even better as a sophomore.