With the regular season over and the 2019 NCAA tournament less than a week away, we decided to get ready for March Madness by ranking this year’s top 50 players in college basketball.
The rankings were determined with a number of things in mind—stats, of course, were a primary factor, but talent level, importance to team, supporting cast and any other unique circumstances were also given consideration. Therefore, it’s not just a ranking of which players simply score the most points or have the best statistics, nor is it a collection of who’s had the best college careers. While a player’s year-to-year improvement may be cited, previous seasons’ accomplishments were not part of the evaluation.
College Basketball’s Top 50 Players in 2018–19
1. Zion Williamson, Duke
Key Stats: 21.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.2 steals, 68.3% FG
The clear star of the entire season, the Duke freshman is set to return for the ACC tournament after a six-game absence, but it hasn’t changed his status as the cream of the crop. Enjoy his final NCAA games while you can, college hoops fans.
2. Grant Williams, Tennessee
Key Stats: 19.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 56.9% FG
The 6’7” Renaissance man picked up where his 2017–18 SEC Player of the Year performance left off and hasn’t looked back, leading the conference in win shares and box plus/minus minutes and placing in the top six nationally in both.
3. R.J. Barrett, Duke
Key Stats: 23.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 45.8% FG
The Robin to Zion’s Batman, Barrett has actually been a bit overshadowed at times this season thanks to his immensely popular teammate. But he’s more than lived up to his high expectations at Duke and has risen to the occasion in Williamson’s absence.
4. Ja Morant, Murray State
Key Stats: 24.6 points, 10.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds, 50.3% FG
The best current player you (maybe) haven’t heard of, Morant can awe through both playing above the rim and dropping no-look passes. He’ll get a chance for a starring stage this March after the Racers earned a trip to the NCAA tournament.
5. Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Key Stats: 18.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 48.7% FG
It’s possible no one made a greater sophomore leap this year than Culver, who is not only asked to power the Red Raiders’ offense but is also tied for third nationally in defensive win shares as a key part of one of the nation's elite defensive squads.
6. De’Andre Hunter, Virginia
Key Stats: 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 47.3% 3PT
After missing last season’s NCAA tournament upset to UMBC, Hunter has returned with a vengeance to lead the Cavaliers. He’s knocking down nearly half his threes and is top five in the ACC in both offensive and defensive win shares.
7. Markus Howard, Marquette
Key Stats: 25.0 points, 4.0 assists, 90.2 FT%, 41.6% 3PT
No one in college basketball can heat up quite like Howard can. He’s had nine games with at least 30 or more points this season, including a career-high 53 against Creighton in January, and had 40 in a half against Buffalo.
8. Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga
Key Stats: 20.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 60.9% FG
Hachimura was going to have to fulfill his anticipated junior year leap for Gonzaga to live up to expectations this season, and the big man has done so and more as part of a dominant campaign for the Bulldogs.
9. Cassius Winston, Michigan State
Key Stats: 19.0 points, 7.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 41.3% 3PT
As injuries have continued to pile up around him, Winston has yet to slow down as the engine and leader of the Spartans and the one who, at times, almost single-handedly keeps them afloat. His assist rate of 47.5 is third in the nation.
10. Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Key Stats: 17.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 53.2% FG
Happ has continued to do what he does best in his senior season, which is dominate near the basket. He’s known for his offensive skills, but his protection in the paint shouldn’t be overlooked, as leads the nation in defensive win shares.
11. Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga
Key Stats: 16.5 points, 8.4 points, 3.1 blocks, 1.8 assists, 69.3% FG
A former San Jose State transfer, Clarke has played a critical role for the Zags this season given the multiple absences of Killian Tillie. Without the high level of play he’s brought to Spokane—he’s first nationally in offensive rating and fourth in win shares—Gonzaga wouldn’t be the offensive juggernaut that it is.
12. Mike Daum, South Dakota State
Key Stats: 25.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 36.8% 3PT
“The Dauminator,” as they call him in Brookings, is closing in on the end of an illustrious college career. He’s up to ninth on the all-time NCAA scoring list, and will still have a chance to add to his 3,042 points in the NIT after his Jackrabbits were stunned in the Summit quarterfinals.
13. PJ Washington, Kentucky
Key Stats: 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.1 blocks, 1.9 assists, 52.1 FG%
It took Washington a bit to get going this season, but he’s really taken off in the second half to help the Wildcats hit their stride. The sophomore has even developed into an outside threat, going from making five total threes as a freshman to shooting 42.3% on 71 attempts this year.
14. Chris Clemons, Campbell
Key Stats: 30 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 44.8 FG%
The nation’s leading scorer, the 5'9" Clemons can make history as college basketball’s first player to average more than 30 ppg in more than two decades. He’ll have to do it in the NIT, though, after Campbell was upset in the Big South tournament.
15. Admiral Schofield, Tennessee
Key Stats: 16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 40.4% 3PT
In addition to having one of the coolest names in college hoops and even having singing chops, Schofield is right there alongside Williams as half of Tennessee’s star duo. A former three-star prospect ranked only 251st on the 247Sports composite, the senior has had one of the best career arcs you could ask for.
16. Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s
Key Stats: 19.8 points, 5.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 45.6% FG
The story of St. John's ascent from Big East bottom-feeder to fringe NCAA tournament team in four years under Chris Mullin starts with Ponds, the fearless point guard out of Brooklyn whose scoring average actually dipped in his junior year but enters postseason play first in the Big East in steals and second in assists. The Red Storm will go as far in March as Ponds will take them.
17. Carsen Edwards, Purdue
Key Stats: 23.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.5 steals, 39% FG
The Boilermakers lost four of the top-five scorers from last year's team yet remained in the thick of the Big Ten race thanks to Edwards's Herculean workload. He took 37.4% of Purdue's shots, the highest percentage in the Big Ten and the sixth-highest in Division I, and enough went in to bring a share of the regular season title to West Lafayette.
18. Kyle Guy, Virginia
Key Stats: 15.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 45.1% 3PT
Guy is the unflappable conductor of the most patient offense in the country and the leading marksman on a team packed with deadeye shooters. He finished in double figures in all but four games during the regular season.
19. Justin Wright-Foreman
Key Stats: 27.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 42.9% 3PT
The nation's second-leading scorer nearly dragged the Pride to their first NCAA tournament since Jay Wright was head coach. Wright-Foreman played 92.7% of available minutes as a senior and took over a third of Hofstra's shots, dropping 48 on William & Mary and 42 on Northeastern and Delaware to help lock up a CAA regular season title.
20. Dedric Lawson, Kansas
Key Stats: 19.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.1 blocks, 49.1% FG
It was a long year in Lawrence, but the Memphis transfer was just as good as advertised, averaging a double double and taking on extra responsibility as key upperclassmen Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick were sidelined.
21. Caleb Martin, Nevada
Key Stats: 19.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 42.2% FG
Alongside his identical twin brother/setup man Cody and next-level athlete Jordan Caroline, Martin provided the scoring punch for countless second-half surges this year, finishing the regular season with nine 30-point games. Nevada has backed out of the Final Four discussion it found itself in last fall, but Martin's quick-strike tendencies leave the Wolf Pack in position to cause March havoc for a second consecutive year.
22. Marial Shayok, Iowa State
Key Stats: 18.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 39.6% FG
Loosed from Virginia's methodical system, Shayok blossomed into an elite scorer within Iowa State's free-flowing offense following his NCAA-mandated year on the sidelines in Ames, flirting with a 50-40-90 (FG%-3P%-FT%) season despite nearly doubling his shot attempts.
23. Coby White, North Carolina
Key Stats: 16.3 points, 4.1 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 43.6% FG
The all-time leading scorer in North Carolina high school hoops history hasn't missed a beat upon his arrival in Chapel Hill, sitting third among ACC freshmen in scoring behind Barrett and Williamson. On a team with two respected senior offensive leaders in Cameron Johnson and Luke Maye, White's ability to plug right in as a pace-setter for the Tar Heels' breakneck style of play has been a testament to his precocious talent.
24. Myles Powell, Seton Hall
Key Stats: 22.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 44.5% FG
If not for Markus Howard, it would be Powell who would be hailed as the Big East's preeminent sharpshooter, with a knack for tight spots and big stages. He scored a total of 54 points in the two top-25 wins (over Howard's Marquette and defending champ Villanova) that polished off the Pirates' lingering bubble concerns.
25. Dylan Windler, Belmont
Key Stats: 21.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.4 steals, 43% 3PT
Speaking of being overshadowed within your conference: While Ja Morant soaked up any national media coverage aimed at the OVC, Windler finished just behind him with 6.8 win shares, tied for ninth-most in the nation, and posted the nation's 12th-best true shooting percentage at 68.6%. Morant and Murray State look to have spoiled Windler and the Bruins' chance for a tournament showcase.
26. Tremont Waters, LSU
Key Stats: 15.3 points, 5.9 assists, 3.1 steals, 2.9 rebounds, 43.6% FG
The leading scorer of the SEC's surprise regular season champion, Waters is also the first Tiger to win SEC Defensive Player of the Year since Tyrus Thomas earned the honor for the 2006 team that went on to make the Final Four.
27. Bruno Fernando, Maryland
Key Stats: 14.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.9 blocks, 62.4% FG
There just aren't many big men at any level with Fernando's fluidity away from the basket, rebounding acumen and shooting touch. His sterling sophomore season has provided some cover for one of the five youngest teams in the country to find its footing in the merciless Big Ten.
28. Fletcher Magee, Wofford
Key Stats: 20.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 42.8% 3PT
Fearless against high-major competition and virtually unstoppable during Wofford's perfect run through the Southern Conference, Magee has proven time and time again he will uncork a shot from anywhere on the floor. His 93.1% clip from the free-throw line also happens to be the third-best in Division I.
29. Cameron Johnson, North Carolina
Key Stats: 16.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 46.9% 3PT
Only one of the 23 players above Johnson on the national three-point percentage leaderboard (Fairleigh Dickinson's Darnell Edge) attempted more than Johnson’s 177 shots from deep. It's almost impossible to bother his shot once his 6'9" frame rises in rhythm, as many UNC opponents have found out once they lose him in transition.
30. Ty Jerome, Virginia
Key Stats: 13.5 points, 5.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds, 42.6% 3PT
The other cold-blooded guard in the Cavaliers' backcourt has a top-50 assist rate to go with his outside shooting accuracy and team-leading 42 steals. He and Guy feed off each other's hot streaks and take turns delivering daggers.
31. Ignas Brazdeikis, Michigan
Key Stats: 15.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 46.6 FG%, 41.7% 3PT
The fiery lefty from north of the border never looked like a freshman during his debut season in Ann Arbor, stepping into a high-usage role early and serving as the constant for a Michigan offense that went missing at times down the stretch.
32. Jordan Murphy, Minnesota
Key Stats: 14.5 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 48.5% FG
Murphy's glass-cleaning capabilities were appointment viewing for those who tuned in for Minnesota's tournament push: His 20.8% rebound rate landed him eighth in Division I, and his 13-and-14 night in an upset of Purdue got the Gophers off the bubble for good.
33. Romeo Langford, Indiana
Key Stats: 16.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 45.2% FG
Langford may not be dealing with the Final Four expectations that his fellow top-five recruits at Duke and North Carolina are playing under, but his deadly effectiveness inside the arc and off the dribble has helped drag Indiana to the finish line after the Hoosiers hit the skids in the middle of Big Ten play.
34. Matt Rafferty, Furman
Key Stats: 17.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.5 steals, 61.7% FG
Rafferty led the nation by a healthy margin with 8.3 total win shares, filling up every part of the stat sheet for a Furman team that cracked the top 25 for the first time in program history.
35. Eric Paschall, Villanova
Key Stats: 16.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 45.2% FG
Paschall has been asked to do a lot this season for the revamped Wildcats, and the senior has responded by raising his game and taking on a primary scoring load (along with Phil Booth—see below) to help Villanova win the Big East regular season tite despite all it lost from its championship squad.
36. Antoine Davis, Detroit-Mercy
Key Stats: 26.1 points, 3.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 38.0% 3PT
The son of Detroit head coach Mike Davis, Antoine had one of college basketball’s clearest green lights as a freshman. He proved his worth by breaking Steph Curry’s freshman three-point record and connecting on 38% of his long-distance shots, while not being one-dimensional.
37. Kerry Blackshear Jr., Virginia Tech
Key Stats: 14.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 52.0% FG
Blackshear Jr. had to become even more important for the Hokies in light of Justin Robinson being sidelined, and the big man stepped up with a string of stellar performances when his team needed him the most, including having 23 and 10 in Tech's upset of Duke.
38. Jordan Nwora, Louisville
Key Stats: 17.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 37.2% 3PT
Nwora was recently named the ACC’s Most Improved Player, and with good reason. He’s had a breakout sophomore year and has become the face of the Cardinals’ offense, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding to help Louisville overachieve in Chris Mack's first season.
39. Quinndary Weatherspoon, Mississippi State
Key Stats: 18.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 40.2% 3PT
One of two Weatherspoon brothers for the Bulldogs (Nick, however, is currently suspended), Quinndary has had an excellent senior year, earning first-team All-SEC honors as the head man on a Mississippi State team that is poised to break its 10-year NCAA tournament drought.
40. Tyus Battle, Syracuse
Key Stats: 17.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 43.2% 3PT
Battle was one of the best players who pulled his name out of the NBA draft pool last spring, and while he hasn’t quite had the season many expected, the shooting guard has had a strong junior year for a Syracuse offense that needs the explosiveness he provides.
41. Phil Booth, Villanova
Key Stats: 18.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 43.4% FG
A Wildcats mainstay since 2014 who has been part of two championship teams (he missed most of his third year with injury), Booth has had his biggest role yet this season for 'Nova and has taken over as its leading scorer and most-used offensive option.
42. Tyler Herro, Kentucky
Key Stats: 14.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 46.5% FG
Billed as more of a sharpshooter heading into college, Herro has emerged as the best of the Wildcats’ plethora of highly-rated freshmen by showing off a well-rounded, aggressive game that goes far beyond his 36.8% perimeter percentage.
43. Luke Maye, North Carolina
Key Stats: 14.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 43.0% FG
Maye hasn’t lived up to preseason expectations, which pegged him as a potential National Player of the Year, but he’s still had a solid senior year for the Tar Heels, averaging a double double and having a hero’s moment with a 30-point effort in UNC’s win over Duke in Durham.
44. Corey Davis Jr., Houston
Key Stats: 16.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 38.5% 3PT
The centerpiece of an underrated Houston squad, Davis Jr. is the Cougars’ top offensive option and plays a key role for their stingy defense, as well. The senior has stepped up down the stretch, scoring 24 or more in five of his last 10 games.
45. Tyler Cook, Iowa
Key Stats: 15.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 53.4% FG%
Another excellent Big Ten big man, the 6'9" Cook has continued his strong play down low as a junior to help the offensively-powered Hawkeyes rebound from their dismal 2017–18, giving them a serious punch inside to complement their many capable outside shooters.
46. Tres Tinkle, Oregon State
Key Stats: 20.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 48.8% FG%
The Beavers’ leader in points, rebounds and steals, the 6'8" Tinkle can stretch teams by knocking down the occasional three and also dominate in the paint, where he shoots 57.8% and draws plenty of fouls, converting at a 77.7% clip.
47. Sam Merrill, Utah State
Key Stats: 21.0 points, 4.2 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 39% 3PT
Merrill announced himself with a 29-point performance in the Aggies’ March upset of Nevada, but the junior has been doing this all year for Utah State, including logging four 30-point games and making 90.4% of his free throws.
48. Jordan Caroline, Nevada
Key Stats: 17.7 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 46.2% FG
Caleb Martin may be the Wolf Pack’s most known star, but don’t overlook Caroline. The senior averages nearly a double double, shoots the three at 38.3% and is tied with Martin for the team lead in defensive win shares. He scored a season-high 40 in a game back in February.
49. Jarron Cumberland, Cincinnati
Key Stats: 18.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 40.4% 3PT
The Bearcats are known for their defense, but someone has to take the reins on offense for Cincy. That person is Cumberland, the AAC Player of the Year and the clear top option for Mick Cronin's team. He's had 15 games where he's scored 20 or more points this season.
50. Matisse Thybulle, Washington
Key Stats: 9.5 points, 3.5 steals, 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 blocks, 2.2 assists
Thybulle’s points-per-game average won’t jump out at you, but his biggest value lies on the defensive end, where he’s one of the nation’s most elite stoppers. He’s a huge part of Washington’s 2–3 zone and the defense that won them the Pac-12 regular season title.
Honorable Mention: B.J. Taylor, UCF; Daniel Gafford, Arkansas; Grant Riller, Charleston; Barry Brown Jr., Kansas State; Josh Perkins, Gonzaga; CJ Massinburg, Buffalo