NBA-DRAFT.COM top 65 College Teams (#20 - 16)

The countdown continues with 20 and heads to 16.....
#20 Gonazaga

The Bulldogs have won at least a share of 11 consecutive WCC titles and under Mark Few, Gonzaga is again the favorite out west. Some counted out the team after losing five of their first nine games and half of the first six conference games- matching the same number of losses from 2008-2010. But the 'Zags rallied losing just one game down the stretch to take another league title and winning a tournament game before bowing out.

This season, Few must replace his starting backcourt, but his starting forwards rank amongst the nation's best. 7-foot Robert Sacre anchors the frontcourt with a power offensive game around the rim and a finesse jumper reliable out to 10-12 feet. What makes Sacre so dangerous is his mechanical and fundamentally sound post moves which put him in great position to score or get to the foul line at a high rate. Complementing him up front is versatile German forward Elias Harris; Harris can handle the ball on the perimeter and knock down the open jumpers, but is better suited operated from 15-feet and in. He and Sacre combined to draw over 10 fouls per 40 minutes, getting opposing bigs in early foul trouble. Taking on larger roles for the second consecutive year, Few can count on 6'9" post Sam Dower and perimeter-oriented Kelly Olynyk.

In the backcourt, starter Marquise Carter returns- a skilled offensive talent, serving as a role player to Steven Gray and Matt Bouldin in the past; this season, Carter's defensive play will be counted on as Gray has graduated. David Stockton, yes, the son of NBA great, John, has similar court vision as his hall of fame blood, but a small, 5'10", 150 pound frame. Few could give serious minutes to four-star freshman point guard Kevin Pangos, a Canadian product, and combo-guard Gary Bell, a four-star west coast product.
#19. Florida State

The Seminoles, led by their defense, are looking to be the third best team in the ACC and a contender yet again. This is two straight year's that coach Leonard Hamilton and his Florida State team has led the nation in adjusted defense- ranking in the top ten in defensive effective field-goal percentage and block percentage. Although two of the team's best and the country's best perimeter defenders Chris Singleton and Derwin Kitchen have moved on, there is still plenty of talent in Tallahassee for a repeat.

Hamilton's roster is stacked with some long, rangy athletes, especially in the frontcourt. There is Bernard James, a 6'10", chiseled forward who can finish around the rim in a variety of ways and protect the rim on the other end of the court with great effectiveness; James was second in the nation in field-goal percentage- making over 65 percent of his attempts, and averaging 2.3 blocks per game (13.5 block percentage in 53 percent of the team's minutes), while also corralling rebounds, both on the offensive and defensive glass at a high rate. With more minutes, James will be a star and a breakout performer on the national level.

Playing alongside of James, Hamilton will use a combination of sophomore Okaro White, junior Terrance Shannon and seniors Xavier Gibson and Jon Kreft. Given their minutes, their 2010-11 production does not seem that impressive, but their roles are changing and they continue to develop. White is an inside-outside forward with a solid overall touch from 20 feet and in, but did a lot of the dirty work a year ago- like defend the rim and work the offensive glass.

Shannon is not anything special on the offensive end, but he was the go-to player in the post when he was on the court and a monster on the offensive glass. He was tough to handle, but also struggled to handle defenders and was often in foul trouble. Gibson has a tendency to float around on the perimeter with his shooting range for a 6'11" big, but will be needed to stick around the low and high posts if he wants to live up to his enormous potential. Lastly, Kreft has been with the program for just one year and is a legit 7-footer with strength, but proved to have little use due to his underdeveloped game.

As much as the frontcourt will be counted on, it will be the backcourt that leads this team's scoring punch. Ian Miller can play either backcourt spot, but will likely start at the point guard spot if he can show Hamilton if he can run the offense and distribute the ball. He will have two options, Michael Snaer and Deividas Dulkys spotting up on the perimeter, two of last season's starters on the wing. The pair of 6'5" guards have room to grow and develop in terms of 3-point accuracy to spread the floor.
#18. Baylor

The Lobos were as talented as anyone last season, but Steve Alford couldn't quite get his together to put forth a consistent effort. They were blown out by Cal, swept by UNLV and San Diego State in league play, but managed to take down BYU twice in the regular-season, the Cougars' only two Mountain West losses.

Speaking of losses, a major departure from last season's 22-win New Mexico squad is point guard Dairese Gary, a under-the-radar team leader and slasher. He led the team in assist rate and free-throw rate and was amongst the nation's best in both categories. Sophomore Kendall Williams, who played off the ball last season, will handle most of the point guard duties, yet will be counted on for scoring as well; in 2010-12, Williams averaged 11.5 points and 4 assists per game.

Look for former UCLA big Drew Gordon to have the inside track at player of the year in the MWC. After missing the first nine contests in 2010-11, Gordon averaged a double-double (12.8 points, 10.8 rebounds), despite playing in just over half of the Lobos' minutes (51.3); his offensive rebounding rate was 21st in the nation, while his defensive rate was third.
#17. Alabama

Perhaps no team shined more in the postseason than the Alabama Crimson Tide, one of the top defensive teams in the country, yet, they did not make the NCAA Tournament, but did make their way to the NIT finals. Young leader Anthony Grant was top 12 in defensive effective field goal percentage, tops in the nation in steal percentage and 12th in block percentage. After some early-season bumps, Alabama went 12-4 in SEC play and 5-2 in postseason play (SEC tournament and NIT).

Grant's stars are in his frontcourt between two all-league performers at their best- power forward JaMychal Green and versatile forward Tony Mitchell. Green uses his athleticism to create mismatches- scoring from mid-range on the wing or down low with quick post moves and effective finishing at the rim. Defensively, Green moves his feet well, covers ground quickly and can come over from the weak side to block/alter a shot or cause a turnover. Mitchell has the same ability to block shots and create steals on the defensive end and is even more so of a mismatch with his strength to score in the blocks and quickness to score from the wing.

Point guard Trevor Releford performed well in his freshman season, controlling the tempo and getting his bigs the ball in scoring position. He has decent size and strength, scoring well off the dribble and getting into the lane for buckets, but will need to greatly improve his perimeter game if the Crimson Tide want to live up to this lofty ranking.

With two starters and one significant role player graduating, we can expect that a pair of freshmen shooting guards, Levi Randolph and Trevor Lacey, can join the rotation, if not the starting lineup from day one. Nick Jacobs, a bulky 4-man will earn some minutes left behind with his size and ability to score with his back to the basket.
#16. Missouri

Even with a new coach at the helm, the up-tempo and offensive minded Tigers return all five starters and 92 percent of their scoring from a year ago. Leading scorer Marcus Denmon, a 17-point per game scorer, racked up the 19th best offensive rating per Ken Pomeroy, including the nation's best turnover rate and for a guard who uses a ton of possessions, that's very impressive. He shot 45 percent from behind the arc to boast.

If there is a player that's just as important as Denmon, its backcourt mate Michael Dixon, the slashing point guard who led the team in assist rate, but its his defense that can be counted on. In fact, Denmon, Dixon and rising-sophomore Phil Pressey averaged 6 steals per game between the three. Pressey has loads of talent as a defender, but as a creator with the ball in his hands; he led the team in assists per game, but also turnovers as well.

How far the Tigers go may depend on senior Kim English- a versatile wing that could play the 2 or the 3 and defend multiple positions on the floor; he took a step back as a junior as his numbers dipped across the board dropping from a 14 point per game scorer on 40 percent shooting to 10 points per game and 36 percent from the field.

In the frontcourt, new coach Frank Haith, will focus on getting Laurence Bowers and Ricardo Ratliffe more minutes, where they could be two of the Big 12's best tandems. Ratliffe is the bigger of the two at 240 pounds, proving to be more efficient scoring the basketball around the rim, but surprisingly, the better shooter from outside on the perimeter as well. Bowers, at 210 pounds, is more athletic, getting around the court better, relying on his leaping abilities and quickness to rack up his steal and block numbers.