Top Five Shooting Guards
This is the second installment of this series of counting down the top five players at each position at the halfway point of the season. In this segment we will take a look at the top fiveshooting guards so far this season.
5. RayVonte Rice
Not many shooting guards have been as impressive as RayVonte Rice this season. He is leading the Big Ten in scoring and was the main reason the Illini were ranked earlier in the season. The Illini have struggled as of late, losing their last three in conference play. Their struggles recently can be directly related to the play of Rice; he only scored nine points and 11 points in their last two games and it’s no coincident that they lost both contests. The Illini desperately need to get Rice going if they want to get back on track in the Big Ten.
4. Gary Harris
Arguably the most talented of the group, Gary Harris has enjoyed a successful sophomore campaign after he spurned the NBA last April. He is averaging close to 18 points a game with five rebounds and three3 assists as well. As Harris goes so do the Spartans, which was never more evident then when poured in 26 points against the Indiana Hoosiers last week. If seniors Keith Appling and Adriaen Payne want to keep the streak of every senior under Tom Izzo going to the Final Four, they will need to rely on the sophomore Gary Harris to get them there.
3. Roy Devyn Marble
There may not be a player more important to their team in the Big Ten then Roy Devyn Marble. Marble is a calming presence on the floor for the Hawkeyes and he is never in a rush. Marble has really turned it on of late. He scored 27 in a closely contested loss to Wisconsin, and then scored 22 in Iowa’s huge win over Ohio State. Marble’s been the go-to guy on a very deep and talented Iowa team; expect that to continue as they look to make a run towards the top of the Big Ten.
2. Nick Johnson
If you want to be the number one team in the country you need to have very strong guard play. That is exactly what Arizona has with T.J McConnell and Nick Johnson. Nick Johnson has increased his scoring this season by five points from 11 points a game last season to 16 points a game this season. During his first two seasons, Johnson’s incredible athleticism and driving ability has been the focal point of his offensive game, but this season he has added a new weapon, the 3-point shot. Johnson will continue to be the catalyst of Arizona’s offense, and if they have aspirations of cutting down the nets in March, Johnson will have to continue his strong play.
1. Russ Smith
The All American is back at it again. With the loss of Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng, Smith has been leaned on to provide leadership and scoring for the Cardinals. He is putting up 18 points per game and has had five assists per game as well. It has been a tough season for the Cardinals, but if they can get past the loss of Chane Behanan and refocus, then they could be a tough team come NCAA Tournament time because of Smith. Smith is capable of taking over any game, and as of late he has been doing just that; scoring over 19 points in his last five games. Smith will have to continue his hot play in order to get the Cardinals back on track in the American Conference.