Dominic James (Marquette): 15.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.4 apg. This is a no-brainer. James is the leading returning scorer in the conference as well as the leader in assists. Add his rebounding prowess and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.9/1.0, and it’s easy to see that James contributes in numerous ways to coach Tom Crean’s squad. Plus, James is the second-leading returnee in the league in steals (1.6 spg). The 5'11" playmaker needs to improve his three-point shooting (30%), but he is one of the few players in the conference who can completely take over a game. His nickname, the Dominator, is well-deserved.
P-5 score = .917*
Sammy Mejia (De Paul): 15.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.5 apg. Mejia has been inconsistent throughout his career, but there is no denying his overall level of talent. He’s not the playmaker James is as his assist-to-turnover ration of 1.2/1.0 illustrates. Mejia has improved as a defender as he uses his combination of quickness and height (6’6”) to make life difficult for shorter guards. Despite being a senior, Mejia may not be the Demons’ “go-to” guy this year as sophomore Wilson Chandler may fill that role. Mejia can play any position on the perimeter, but I find it hard to imagine that Coach Jerry Wainwright will start freshman Will Walker at point instead of Mejia as that would mean having either Draelon Burns or Karron Clarke come off the bench. Like James, Mejia needs to improve his long-range shooting (29% on three-pointers).
P-5 score = .710
Levance Fields (Pittsburgh): 6.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.2 apg. Fields came off the bench last year averaging 21.6 mpg. With Carl Krauser having completed his career, Ronald Ramon will slide to off guard to make room for Fields. The 5’10” sophomore is built more like a free safety than a point guard. However, he is extremely skilled. He takes good care of the ball (only 1.1 turnovers per game). His assist-to-turnover ratio was a very respectable 2.1/1.0 and should be even better with more experience. Over the last 10 games of the season, Fields provided glimpses of what opponents might see this year as he averaged 9.9 ppg in 26.5 mpg and shot 47% from the field, including 45% from behind the arc.
P-5 score = .694.
Mike Nardi (Villanova): 10.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.0 apg. Some other point guards had superior stats, but a major reason was that he was the fourth option on offense playing with three other superb guards a good deal of the time. This year he will run the show, and he will be the second or third option on offense. Nardi is a very good perimeter shooter (40% from behind the arc), but he seldom drives to the hoop. On the defensive end he isn’t as quick as some of the point guards he’ll have to guard, but he makes up for his deficiencies with positioning and anticipation.
P-5 score = .560
Eugene Lawrence (St. John’s): 9.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.9 apg. With Darryll Hill missing 11 games last season, Lawrence was counted on to be more of an impact player. Lawrence isn’t flashy, but he is productive. With Hill back and greater depth in both the frontcourt and backcourt, Lawrence might not score as much; his primary role will be to run the offense and get others the ball where they’ll be most effective. He does need to reduce his turnovers (3.7 per game) and improve his shooting (37% overall and 29% on three-pointers). P-5 score = .679
Sharaud Curry (Providence): 11.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, and 3.5 apg. Curry is extremely quick, and he’s a decent shooter (43% overall and 36% on three-pointers). He’s also an excellent free throw shooter (89%), which can be critical at the end of close games. Defensively, he sometimes struggles with bigger, stronger guards, but his quickness can also cause problems for opponents. With Donnie McGrath having graduated, Curry may become the Friars’ primary outside shooter, which is a heavy responsibility for someone who’s also charged with running the offense.
P-5 score = .620
Anthony Farmer (Rutgers): 8.5 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 3.9 apg. Farmer did a nice job of running the show for Rutgers, especially for a freshman. His shooting wasn’t bad either, especially from behind the arc where he averaged 38%. Perhaps most impressive, however, was his assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.8/1.0. Farmer played with a wrist injury part of last year, which appeared to hurt his shooting. If healthy, he could raise his scoring average and his shooting percentages. There will certainly be shots available now that Quincy Douby has moved on to the NBA. P-5 score = .547
Jonathan Wallace (Georgetown): 7.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 3.2 apg. Wallace is sometimes under-appreciated, but his contributions to the Hoyas’ success should not be overlooked. He does an excellent job of taking care of the ball (only 1.4 turnovers per game), and his assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.3/1.0 is excellent. He is a very good perimeter shooter (41% on treys). He is also a solid defender. If the Hoyas can not find another three-point threat, Wallace will have to raise his scoring average considerably to keep defenses honest.
P-5 score = .529
Andre McGee (Louisville): 5.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 2.1 apg. McGee came off the bench for the Cardinals last year, averaging 20.1 mpg. He may not get much more playing time this year with so many talented incoming freshmen guards and the return of senior Brandon Jenkins. McGee is extremely quick, and he takes care of the ball. His assist-to-turnover ratio was a very respectable 1.7/1.0. He can also be a pest on defense hounding opposing point guards into turnovers. McGee needs to improve his shooting (35% overall). If he can become a more consistent shooter/scorer and still run the point effectively, he won’t have to worry about playing time.
P-5 score = .538
Darris Nichols (West Virginia): 3.1 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 1.5 apg. Nichols saw limited court time last season (13.4 mpg) playing behind three senior guards. This year he should get at least 30 mpg. Nichols is very quick, and he takes care of the ball (only 13 turnovers in 443 minutes). His shooting percentages (38% overall and 22% on three-pointers) obviously need to improve. Nichols was a prolific scorer in high school, taking the ball to the hoop and hitting mid-range jumpers. His coaches and teammates are counting on him to regain that mentality and effectiveness.
P-5 score = .575
Chris Capko (South Florida): 2.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 4.4 apg. Originally a walk on, Capko was thrust into the starting lineup by necessity a year ago, a development which will likely be repeated this year. He is not much of a scorer because he is not much of a shooter (33% overall). He did not make a single three-pointer the entire season though he took only 13 shots from behind the arc. While he needs to improve his shooting, more importantly Capko needs to improve his assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.2/1.0, which is unacceptably low for a point guard. Capko works hard and is unselfish, but he has to be more productive if USF is going to escape the cellar this season.
P-5 score = .348
* A P-5 score (Potential Point Production & Prevention Profile), which I devised, is calculated by adding a player’s points, rebounds, assists (times 2), steals, and blocks, then subtracting the number of turnovers. This total is then divided by the number of minutes the individual played. The higher the P-5 score, the more productive statistically the player was. Of course, like all statistical analyses, the P-5 score does not present the entire picture of a player’s contributions to his team.