The folks at Basketball Prospectus have been counting down the top 100 players in college basketball from last season, and comparing them to their preseason rankings. Apparently they were paying attention to things in 2011-12, because Anthony Davis was rated the best in the nation. He finished ahead of Draymond Green, Thomas Robinson, Jared Sullinger and Creighton’s Doug McDermott, and here’s what BP said about the Brow:
1. C Anthony Davis, Kentucky, Fr. (Me: 21; CBS: 7)
Last summer I thought there was too big a chance that Davis would disappear at times. In case you didn’t notice, this wasn’t an issue. He was just better than everyone else. The gap isn’t a chasm, but there most certainly exists a gap. I have a spreadsheet tracking every award that I care about: National Player of the Year, All-American, National Defensive Player of the Year, National Freshman of the Year, NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Conference Player of the Year, All-Conference, Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Conference Freshman of the Year, Conference All-Defense, Conference All-Freshman. Davis won all of them. And the national championship. What more could you want?
Wow. When you write it all together like that, there isn’t much of a case for anyone else. In addition to Davis being ranked first, Doron Lamb (71) and Terrence Jones (46) also made the cut, and BP ranked Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14:
14. SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky, Fr. (Me: 29; CBS: 16)
In my article ranking the freshman seasons of the ESPNU Class of 2011 Top 100, I went on a fairly energetic diatribe pushing Cody Zeller as undeniably better than Kidd-Gilchrist. And yet the more I think about it, the smaller the gap gets. MKG was the second-best offensive player and the second-best defender on the best team in the country, and he was only second-best in both categories because he was battling a certain Mr. Anthony Davis for each title. Zeller’s more polished, and he was probably the most effective offensive freshman in the country last year. Kidd-Gilchrist was a bulldog: A force in transition, a consistent rebounder, and an unyielding defender (though Zeller was no slouch on D, either). I’d still take Zeller. (See below.) But I’m rescinding the confidence I had the last time I made this choice.
Putting Davis first is a no brainer, but I have to say that I think MKG is undersold here a bit. Looking at some of the guys ahead of him, he easily could have and probably should have been inside the top ten. He was the heart and an indispensable part of a championship team, and never took a play off on either end no matter if his shots were falling or not. Those things may not translate well to rankings like this, but to say that MKG wasn’t one of the ten best players in the country just doesn’t seem right. That’s ok, though. I think the checks Gilchrist will be cashing soon probably soften the sting of being ranked too low. I think.