If you ever take a moment to visit the Hartman household, there's a lot of basketball being watched...and I mean a lot. Between time spent on the road scouting, watching match-ups on TV or the web, and pouring over various YouTube videos, there's a good deal of basketball that's being seen.
As I watch these games, I study player movements, sets, strengths and weaknesses of each player, out of bounds plays, etc. It's an old habit that started when I was a kid. I couldn't just simply watch a game when I was growing up. My dad would constantly be telling me how I should observe certain things and watch closely at what players do. At the time, I hated it. I would get so mad because I couldn't just "watch" the game. I had to study it. As I got older and continued to play the game and then eventually coach, I'm glad my dad made me do that. It allowed me to pick up on tendencies of players that I have used strategically ever since. I'm now trying to pass that along to my son (much to his dismay) and his youth team that I coach.
With those things being said, I plan on revealing my top players at each position this year in college basketball throughout the coming weeks. Please note, as you're reading these lists, they are not a list of players that I think will successfully make the transition to the professional game and become all-stars. These are guys that are the best at their position in college right now, regardless of potential pro prospects. So, let's get right to the point, literally. Here are Hartman Basketball's Top 5 Point Guards of the 2015-16 college hoops season thus far.
Khalil Felder (5-9, JR), Oakland
You're a true hoops fan if you actually know who Felder is. The sparkplug of the Golden Grizzlies offense, Felder is averaging 25.8 points per game, 8.7 assists per game and shooting 83% from the free throw line. His assist number leads the country and he has already dropped 23 against Georgia, 38 against Washington, 37 against Michigan State and 30 against Virginia. This guy can flat out play. Unfortunately, we may not get to see him make much noise on a national stage as his Oakland team is 2-2 in the Horizon and 10-7 overall. Perhaps Felder can put the Grizzlies on his back and make a run down the stretch and sneak into the tournament.
Kris Dunn (6-3, JR), Providence
Dunn has been a triple-double waiting to happen so far this season. The sure fire NBA lottery pick is leading the 15-3 Friars with 17.9 points, 6.4 boards and 7 assists a game. He is typically regarded as the best point guard in college right now and would have gone high in the draft had he come out as a sophomore. As it stands, he will likely be the first point guard off the board in the 2016 draft. If there's a knock on Dunn it's his shooting stroke as he struggles from the line and from deep but there's no question that he's a big-time player.
Tyler Ulis (5-9, SO), Kentucky
Kentucky has been up and down this season but if there's been one consistent, it's been Ulis. The diminutive leader of the Wildcats is as steady as they come and is averaging 14.4 points, 6.1 assists and 3.7 rebounds a game. He's had some turnover issues of late but not enough to be of concern. He has also struggled shooting the ball but that seems to be more a product of his elbow injury. If Kentucky has plans on making a run this year in the SEC and NCAA tournaments, Ulis will be the one that leads the young Wildcats back into contention.
Demetrius Jackson (6-1, JR), Notre Dame
The Fighting Irish are 12-5 and are coming off a big win on the road against Duke. The main reason? Jackson. He's putting up 17.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.6 boards a game and is carrying the load for a Notre Dame team that lost Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton. Jackson is tough as nails and as competitive as they come and that has made all the difference for the Irish. And with UNC, Louisville, Miami (twice), NC State and Syracuse still left on the schedule, Jackson will have every opportunity to prove that he's one of the best in the country.
Gary Payton II (6-3, SR), Oregon State
Payton II is, hands-down, the best rebounding guard in the country and, much like Kris Dunn, is likely to put up a triple-double at a moment's notice. He's averaging 17.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He is struggling from the floor shooting the ball but his dominance in other statistical areas makes up for his lack of shooting prowess. The son of "The Glove" earned the moniker "The Mitten" for displaying similar defensive abililty as he led the Pac-12 in steals last season and is averaging 2.4 rips a game this season. Many people don't consider him a true point guard because he plays everywhere for the Beavers but the point will be his spot at the next level.
Next Men Up:
Melo Trimble (6-3, SO), Maryland
Marcus Paige (6-1, SR) North Carolina
Fred VanVleet (6-0, SR) Wichita State
Cat Barber (6-2, JR) NC State
Fellow college basketball fans, who are your top point guards in college this year and why? Hit me up and let me know. I'm always up for a good basketball discussion.