NCAA Basketball: Phil Knight Invitational-North Carolina at Portland

CBS Sports released its Top 100 And 1 player list last week and the 2023-24 season is expected to be defined once again by dominant centers. Four of the five players on the CBS Sports Preseason All-America First Team were big men. The top five spots on the list were all occupied by front court players. 

Headlining the list is towering Purdue center Zach Edey. Last season, the 7-foot-4 big man averaged 22.3 points and 12.9 rebounds pergame on his way to winning National Player of the Year Award. Other highly-ranked centers include North Carolina's Armando Bacot, Duke's Kyle Filipowski, Kansas' Hunter Dickinson and Creighton Ryan Kalkbrenner.

Even with all the attention paid to big men, guard play is still king come March. Marquette's Tyler Kolek, Texas A&M's Wade Taylor and Texas' Max Abmas all ranked in the top-10 and are expected to help lead their respective teams to a deep NCAA Tournament run. 

We broke our rankings into seven different position categories: point guard, shooting guard, combo guard, small forward, wing, power forward and center. Power conference players dominated the top of the list. The only mid-major player ranked at the top of his position group was Dayton PF DaRon Holmes ll.

Ranking top players by position

Point guards

Rank (Overall)PlayerSchoolClass
1. (6)Tyler KolekMarquetteSenior
2. (20)Tyson WalkerMichigan StateGraduate
3. (27)Aidan MahaneySaint Mary'sSophomore
4. (36)Jamal SheadHoustonSenior
5. (39)Tyrese HunterTexasJunior

Kolek is the consensus best point guard in college basketball, so it's no surprise he headlines this list. The reigning Big East Player of the Year is an excellent facilitator and is a major reason why Marquette is the preseason No. 5 team. Mahaney is poised to take a massive jump at Saint Mary's. He may be a relative unknown name to most (unless you stay up late to watch West Coast Conference basketball) but he averaged 13.9 points as a true freshman and played a massive role in a win over Gonzaga at the start of WCC play. There's a lot of continuity in this group as all five players played for their respective programs last season.

Shooting guards

Rank (Overall)PlayerSchoolClass
1. (16)Terrence Shannon Jr.IllinoisFifth year
2. (21)Justin MooreVillanovaGraduate
3. (23)Santiago VescoviTennesseeFifth year
4. (24)L.J. CryerHoustonSenior
5. (31)Alijah MartinFAUJunior

In a surprising decision, Shannon elected to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft to come back to Illinois. The former Texas Tech shooting guard provides a one-two punch with returner Coleman Hawkins. Moore is back at Villanova after he tore his achilles in the Elite Eight win over Houston in 2022. He provides coach Kyle Neptune with a reliable veteran that should help the Wildcats compete in the Big East.

Combo guards

Rank (Overall)PlayerSchoolClass
1. (7)Wade Taylor IVTexas A&MJunior
2. (9)Max AbmasTexasGraduate
3. (11)Isaiah CollierUSCFreshman
4. (14)Tyrese ProctorDukeSophomore
5. (15)Ryan NembhardGonzagaSophomore

The top combo guards feature two returners, two transfers and the No. 2 overall recruit from the 2023 recruiting cycle. Collier was a late bloomer in high school before he skyrocketed up the recruiting rankings. He is the highest-rated recruit in history of USC basketball and already in consideration to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. All five of the teams on this list are expected to compete for their respective league titles. Taylor could prove to be the most important because of the wide-open status of the SEC.

Small forwards

Rank (Overall)PlayerSchoolClass
1. (10)Bryce HopkinsProvidenceJunior
2. (18)Justin EdwardsKentuckyFreshman
3. (26)Baylor ScheiermanCreightonSenior
4. (38)Kevin McCullar Jr.KansasRedshirt-Senior
5. (68)Tucker DeVriesDrakeJunior

Hopkins leads this list after the Kentucky transfer averaged 15.8 points and 8.5 rebounds in 34.9 minutes last season.  Edwards showed why he can be Kentucky's No. 1 option during the GLOBL Jam games in Canada this summer. DeVries was one of a handful of mid-major players on this list.


Rank (Overall)PlayerSchoolClass
1. (12)Trey AlexanderCreightonJunior
2. (41)Ja'Kobe WalterBaylorFreshman
3. (59)Antonio ReevesKentuckyFifth year
4. (65)Stephon CastleUConnFreshman
5. (70)Matthew ClevelandMiamiJunior

Two true freshmen headline this list of wings. Baylor coach Scott Drew has experience developing young players quickly and Walter has the physical build to succeed in the Big 12. Castle should step into a prominent role right away for the reigning champs after the Huskies lost a ton of firepower to the NBA Draft.

Power forwards

Rank (Overall)PlayerSchoolClass
1. (28)DaRon Holmes IIDaytonJunior
2. (34)Tolu SmithMississippi StateGraduate
3. (37)Tristan Da SilvaColoradoSenior
4. (43)PJ HallClemsonSenior
5. (53)Eric DixonVillanovaRedshirt senior

Mississippi State was dealt a brutal blow when it was announced Smith would miss the start of the season because of a foot injury. He was a candidate for SEC Preseason Player of the Year and his injury will likely knock him out until at least the start of conference play. Colorado's Da Silva is a dark horse candidate for Pac-12 Player of the Year. The Buffaloes are expected to field their best roster in years and he should be the focal point.


Rank (Overall)PlayerSchoolClass
1. (1)Zach EdeyPurdueSenior
2. (2)Armando BacotNorth CarolinaGraduate
3. (3)Kyle FilipowskiDukeSophomore
4. (4)Hunter DickinsonKansasSenior
5. (5)Ryan KalkbrennerCreightonSenior

Unless you live under a rock, you know how dominant Edey was last season. The 7-foot-4 burly big man took America by storm and emerged as the top player in the sport. Purdue has an opportunity to follow the same script as Virginia and capture a national title the season after losing to a No. 16 seed in the first round.