Just before the holiday weekend Jon Rothstein published his list of ten best mid-major guards. He didn't explicitly state that they were the ten "best," but he did number them one through ten, and since he provided the list sans descriptive text (because he's really just trolling for hits) we have to make assumptions. More importantly, like everything he writes, the piece oscillated between the Rothstein poles of 2/3 "spot-on" and 1/3 "wtf?" It's a mystery how he can be both one of the ten best college basketball analysts and one of the ten worst college basketball analysts (sometimes in the same sentence), but he's perfected it. We'll call that dichotomy The Rothstein.
Over the weekend I had planned on deconstructing the list as I'm want to do with a couple old school, smoking jacket wearing, ACC writers. But this is Rothstein. We don't need to deconstruct. Instead, I'll take on the harder task of providing a better list. Here goes. (*Note: discovered that John Templon of Big Apple Buckets provided a list as well)
1. Isaiah Canaan - Murray State
If you need me to diagram the why of Canaan sitting atop this list, then you're probably not a college basketball fan and you'll have left this site before the end of this sentence. He's the best. The end.
2. Nate Wolters - South Dakota State
As a junior, Wolters was about as close to a one-man show as it's possible to be in a sport where five guys play at all times. He used 32.5% of SD State's possessions, which was the 11th most in the nation. And he took more than a third of their shots when he was on the floor. And he was really really good. He averaged 21.2 points, 5.9 assists 5.1 boards a game, while maintaining the highest assist rate in the Summit and the 3rd lowest turnover rate.
3. CJ McCollum - Lehigh
McCollum has been the star at Lehigh since he walked on campus. He averaged 19.1 ppg as a freshman, and bumped that to 21.9 this year. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds a game, and has made more than 80% of his FTs in all three seasons. Every team the Mountain Hawks play know that the ball is going to be in McCollum's hands, and still, he performs. The only reason he isn't in Canaan's league is that he's inconsistent from beyond the arc - 42% as a freshman, 32% as a sophomore and 34% as a junior.
4. Matthew Dellavedova - St. Mary's
On the surface, Dellavedova appears to be the slow motion version of a better point guard. But then you focus on him and him alone and you realize what a special player he is. He played more of his team's minutes than all but ten players in college, made 53% of his 2s, had a very good FT Rate and made 86% once he got to the line, and he had the third best assist rate in the West Coast Conference. On the season he averaged 15.5 points and 6.4 assists.
5. Prestin Medlin - Utah State
For a while New York was swallowed by Linsanity. Well, welcome to Logan, Utah and Medlinsanity. Medlin was asked to redshirt after his nondescript freshman season as coach Morrill knew that he would be losing a ton off the 2010-11 team. Prestin Medlin took advantage of that year. He made 43% of his 3s, 58% of his 2s, 80% of his FTs and didn't turn the ball over. If he played at a higher profile school every fan in the nation would know his name.
6. Ray McCallum - Detroit
McCallum, a coaches son, might be the best defender on this list. He does everything that a slashing ballhandler is supposed to do - he's efficient, he involves his teammates, and he gets to the line. The limiting factor in McCallum's game is that he only made 24% of his 3s, which of course makes you wonder why he attempted 125 of them.
7. Kerron Johnson - Belmont
The blossoming of Kerron Johnson was impressive to watch. Shucking his role player status, Belmont became Johnson's team in 2011-12. He had the 2nd best assist rate in the Atlantic Sun, averaged 13.8 ppg, and like Ray McCallum made a heap of 2s, got to the line, and played great defense. Also - like McCallum - he struggled from deep.
8. Frantz Massenat - Drexel
Massenat is the opposite of the two players above him. He struggles to score inside the arc (42%) but lights it up from deep (45%). He had the third best assist rate in the Colonial Athletic, and the 7th best FT Rate.
9. Shane Gibson - Sacred Heart
It's hard for Gibson to stand out playing for a below average team in a below average conference. But he was everything to Sacred Heart this season. He took 34% of the shots, making 56% of his 2s and 43% of his 3s. He's not great at getting to the line, but when there makes 86%. The Pioneers will be better next season, so Gibson will have a chance to get his due.
10. Miguel Paul - East Carolina
The transfer from Missouri took little time establishing himself as one of the best point guards in the nation. His assist rate was top-10 nationally, he drew 6 fouls per 40 minutes, and made a respectable 36% of his 3s. Of mid-major point guards, only Savannah State's Preston Blackmon is returning with a better assist rate.
Honorable Mention: DJ Cooper (Ohio), Velton Jones (Robert Morris), Jason Brickman (LIU), Kendrick Perry (Youngstown State)