NBA-DRAFT.COM top 65 College Teams (#35 - 31)

The countdown continues with 35 and heads to 31.....
#35 Miami (FL)

Jim Larranaga did not inherit the ideal situation, but Miami has potential- both good and bad and the ability to move up our rankings into the late-30s range, or they have the capability of shooting down our rankings out of an NCAA Tournament field. They don't have the talent to compete with the likes of North Carolina, Duke or Florida State in the ACC for a league title, but they could steal a game or two. Their non-conference schedule is sub-par, so they will have to knock off some of these Top 25 teams to make it into the tournament.

The biggest hit to the team's potential success came when starting center Reggie Johnson, a mammoth of a low-post presence, tore his meniscus in a pick-up game in early-July; he will miss 5 to six months after undergoing surgery. It's a devastating blow to the Hurricanes and Johnson who needed the offseason to get in shape and continue to develop as one of the ACC's premier big men.

While Johnson rehabs, look for wings Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant to take control of scoring; they complement each other well where Scott is a top slasher and Grant in a one of the league's better perimeter shooters. To add another threat to each of their games, both possessed an assist rate that rank amongst the top of league returnees. If eligible, DeQuan Jones, will take on a larger role, especially with the injury to Johnson and the graduation of forward Adrian Thomas.
#34. Michigan

At the end of January, no one expected much from Michigan, losers of six straight games, but the Wolverines rallied behind point guard Darius Morris and shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. Morris, the Big Ten's leader in assists per game and third in the nation in assist rate, cannot be replaced, so Coach John Beilein, will need Hardaway Jr., and center Jordan Morgan to step up in their sophomore seasons.

Hardaway Jr., a 6'5" guard and son of former NBA great Tim Hardaway, played with Team USA's U-19 team this summer, finishing fifth on the team in scoring, coming through in the clutch with numerous big shots. He will pair up with wings Zack Novak and Stu Douglass- two snipers from the perimeter, but also a duo of impact freshman guards- shooting guard Carlton Brundidge and point guard Trey Burke. Burke will carry much of the point guard duties in his first year in setting up his shooters on the wing, but also getting the ball to his big man, Morgan down low. Morgan's development in his conditioning and low-post scoring will be the key to this Wolverine team.
#33. Iona

Whether you knew it or not, Iona, the second-place finishers in the MAAC, had the 28th most efficient offense in the country and ninth best effective field-goal percentage. Behind the likes of former-Seton Hall commit Michael Glover and Scott Machado, the Gaels will be one of the top mid-majors this season. Glover is a 6'7" power forward who averaged 18.2 points and 10.2 rebounds on 60.3 percent shooting from the floor a year ago. Machado, a senior point guard, had one of the highest assist rates in the country a year ago, but needs to improve his shot selection and finishing abilities if Iona is to make the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
#32. George Mason

A recently fired Paul Hewitt replaces former Mason coach Jim Larranaga, who could be regretting his new job amidst scandals at Miami (FL). Also gone are 2010-11 leading scorer Cam Long (15.1 points) to graduation and Luke Hancock (10.9 points) to transfer, but return plenty of talent to one of the nation's best offenses. Ryan Pearson will lead the way if he can improve upon his 14.2 points per game (second on the team) and 6.7 rebounds a game (led the team).

Just as important as returnees, point guard Andre Cornelius and center Mike Morrison return as seniors and two of the CAA's best. Morrison and Cornelius will have more room to operate with freshman Erik Copes, one of the top five or six centers in his class, donning a Patriots' uniform this season. His motor at both ends of the floor, as well as his impressive rebounding and shot-blocking will have him as the runaway favorite for newcomer of the year.
#31. Washington

Not many teams can lose their top three players and still be ranked as high as the Huskies are this season, but success/failures are heavily dependent on the development of two Washington players: Terrence Ross and Aziz N'Diaye. Ross, a former top recruit, is an top-level offensive talent expected to carry a majority of the scoring without Isaiah Thomas around, while N'Diaye, a former-JUCO transfer, must develop some sort of offensive game in the low-post and continue to improve on the glass. N'Diaye is an athletic 7-footer, but is still growing into his lanky frame and learning the game as shown by his near-7 fouls per 40 minutes last season.

Not all hope is on the backs of Ross and N'Diaye as point guard Abdul Gaddy returns from injury where he posted a 26.8 assists rate before an ACL tear, along with one of the top point guard recruits in the freshman class, Tony Wroten Jr. The backcourt will have depth with CJ Wilcox and Scott Suggs who combined for over 110 made 3s last season. Freshman Hikeem Stewart will add even more perimeter depth with his relentless attacking nature in transition.

The depth is not as prevalent in the frontcourt where N'Diaye will start along with Darnell Gant again- an inside-outside threat who uses his versatility and athleticism to create matchup problems. The frontcourt will have some growing pains where Lorenzo Romar brings in three freshmen forwards.