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January 16, 2008

SCS.comWith college hoops a couple of weeks into conference play, it is a good time to start taking a look at which players have had the biggest impacts for their teams. Clearly there are plenty of ways for athletes to impact things on the floor, be it a mental boost, providing energy off the bunch, or putting up big numbers. In this particular case we will be analyzing some of the top players under the guise of what percentage of their teamsí offense they are responsible for.

For perimeter players we are going to assume that each assist results in a two point field goal, while for big men we are basing their ratings on what percentage of team scoring and rebounding they are responsible for. By no means is this necessarily a means of ranking the best players in the country, but all of the players that made our list have tremendous impacts on the success of their respective teams.

D.J. Augustin, So. Point Guard, Texas
20.3 ppg, 6.3 apg Ė responsible for 40% of teamís offense

The Longhorns have faired much better after the departure of Kevin Durant than most of the pundits expected. While plenty of talent did return for Texas this season, no player has played a bigger role in the teamís success so far than Augustin. Despite putting up stellar numbers last season as a freshman (14 ppg and nearly 7 apg), Augustin was overshadowed by the much more heralded Durant. This season though, the sophomore has taken the reins of his team and stepped up his play tremendously. While the assist numbers have dropped slightly, his is scoring six more points per game this season and his field goal percentage has increased as well, now hovering around 50%.

Augustin is so quick and crafty with the basketball that he is an absolute nightmare for defenders to stick with for the 35 minutes that he is on the floor each night. Perhaps what makes the sophomore floor general so valuable to his team is the amount of consistency he brings to the court night in and night out. In only two games this season has Augustin scored less than 16 points, while topping the 20-point mark in nine games so far. You can easily make the claim that Augustin is the best point guard in the college game today, and at the very least he is in the top three.

Michael Beasley, Fr. Power Forward, Kansas St
24.8 ppg, 13.1 rpg Ė responsible for 31% of teamís scoring and 30% of teamís rebounds

The last time a player led Division 1 basketball in scoring and rebounding was the 1994-95 season when Kurt Thomas posted averages of 28.9 points and 14.5 rebounds. That however was at Texas Christian, and Thomas was a senior. Enter Michael Beasley who is the nationís top rebounder and fifth in the scoring race. Beasley plays in the Big 12 and is a freshman.

Despite having just turned 19 years old, there may be no more physically intimidating player in the country. It doesnít hurt that this so called ďman-childĒ has a motor that absolutely refuses to quit. The lefty can dominate you inside and on the next play take you out on the perimeter, making him the prototypical modern day power forward. Regardless if he pulls off leading the nation in both scoring and rebounding, this tenacious big man has put himself as the frontrunner to be the top pick in this yearís draft.

Tyrese Rice, Jr. Point Guard, Boston College
19.9 ppg, 5.2 apg Ė responsible for 41% of teamís offense

The Eagles were expected to struggle this season with the loss of ACC Player of the Year Jared Dudley to the NBA. A roster loaded with talented freshman and a few key upperclassmen however has BC tied atop the ACC early on. The leader of this inexperienced team has been junior point guard Tyrese Rice.

After a productive freshman season, Rice burst onto the scene last season averaging nearly 18 points per night. His scoring has increased again this year but that hasnít stopped him from being a big time play maker for his team. There is no doubt that Rice is a scoring point guard, having already posted four games of at least 25 points. While at times he exhibits the tendencies of a two-guard, there is no doubt that he will be exclusively a point guard at the professional level.

Jason Thompson, Sr. Center, Rider
20.4 ppg, 11.8 rpg Ė responsible for 27% of teamís scoring and 31% of teamís rebounds

Donít let the fact that he plays in the MAAC fool you, Jason Thompson is a big time player. In three early season games against North Carolina St, Penn St and Kansas St the senior posted averages of 22.3 points and 10.6 rebounds during that stretch. Things havenít slowed down with the start of conference play either, with Thompson having posted a double-double in four straight games.

Thompson has good size and length for the post position even at the professional level, which in the MAAC makes him a man amongst boys. He isnít a tremendous athlete, but has a fairly developed post game and he works hard on the inside. While there are some questions involving whether he will be drafted after the season is over, there is no questioning how valuable he has been to his team this season and how big of an impact player he is.

Sean Singletary, Sr. Point Guard, Virginia
17.9 ppg, 6.6 apg Ė responsible for 39% of teamís offense

Singletary has been terrorizing ACC defenses for four years, but with backcourt mate J.R. Reynolds no longer running along side him, the senior has had to make some changes to his game. While his scoring has dropped a little this season, his assist numbers are at an all time high, as is his shooting percentage from beyond the arc.

The senior is a tremendous playmaker thanks to his quickness and court vision. He does an excellent job of getting into the lane and kicking to open teammates. Singletary also exhibits great body control which allows him to finish in traffic. He gets into a little trouble sometimes when he throws wild passes, and is averaging over four turnovers per game this season, but he will still be on a lot of draft boards come the end of the season.

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