The Best Returning Underclassmen in College Basketball

Anthony Davis hasn’t officially declared he’s turning pro, but there’s little doubt that the best player in the nation will be an NBA player in the 2012-2013 season. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should be heading that way as well, but there’s plenty of talent staying in College Basketball.

Cody Zeller of Indiana should be the first man to watch this season, as the Freshman, who was remarkable for the Hoosiers this season, decided he needs to improve a bit, or probably hoping to grab some glory with a very strong Indiana team next season. He’s probably already better than his brother, completing four years with the Tar Heels.

Cody Zeller, Indiana

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The younger Zeller brother would have probably been a top 10 pick if he had declared for the 2012 NBA Draft, but despite having a very successful freshman season, averaging 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds and getting a lot of love from the scouts regarding his NBA future, Zeller decided he wants to improve and take Indiana a bit further in the NCAA tournament. With Christian Watford returning as well for his Senior year, there’s a good chance the Hoosiers will be the preseason #1 team.

Trey Burke, Michigan Wolverines

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Trey Burke won the Big Ten Freshman of the year award in 2011-2012, leading Michigan in points, assists, steals and blocked shots, setting a new school single season freshman record. He averaged 14.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists and should be one of the top point guards in the country next season.

Quincy Miller, Baylor Bears

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Quincy Miller is another freshman who could have probably been a lottery, probably even a top 10 pick if he would have decided on leaving early. The Big 12 co-freshman of the year averaged 10.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Isaiah Canaan, Murray State

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Isaiah Canaan will return for his senior year, partly because he knows the 2013 NBA draft isn’t loaded with guard talent. One of the best scoring back court players in the nation, Canaan averaged 19 points per game in Murray State’s fantastic season. The head coach staying with a chance to build a Mid-Major power seemed like another good incentive.

Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State Buckeyes

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Thomas had a very impressive Sophomore season, averaging 15.9 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He has an excellent offensive game, and if he adds to his defensive repertoire while enjoying more responsibility without Jared Sullinger, he should be a high pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

James Michael McAdoo, North Carolina Tar Heels

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Despite playing only 15 minutes a night, everyone agrees that McAdoo would have been a high pick after his freshman year. He made the right choice of staying on a Tar Heels team that will be completely his in 2012-2013, leading to being a top 5 pick in 2013 and being a potential ACC player of the year, if not more.

Mason Plumlee, Duke Blue Devils

Will be returning for his senior year, as the big brother this time. Plumlee averaged 11.1 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, probably being the best player on a team that folded against Lehigh in the first round of the 2012 tournament, scoring 19 points with a perfect 9-9 from the field.

C.J. McCollum, Lehigh Mountain Hawks

McCollum has been averaging nearly 22 points per game for the Mountain Hawks these past couple of seasons, putting on quite a show against Duke in the tournament, scoring 30 points against the Blue Devils. The scouts aren’t in love with his size (6-3) but an impressive senior year should partially quell those doubters.

Doug McDermott, Creighton Bluejays

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McDermott returning for a Junior year not only makes Creighton, returning almost everyone this season, a team worth following in 2012-2013, but the 6-7 Junior a national player of the year candidate after elected to the all-American first team in 2012, averaging 22.9 points per game.

B.J. Young, Arkansas Razorbacks

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BJ Young doesn’t play for a school that most people pay attention to in the college ranks, but after a very impressive freshman yer, averaging 15.1 points per game, Young might become the best point guard in the SEC if he gets to play the position full time. A good year, and he should be a high draft pick in 2013.