By Jon Rothstein
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* IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
1. AARON CRAFT, OHIO STATE
THE SKINNY: A menace to opposing point guards, Craft’s on-ball defense has become a must watch every time the Buckeyes take the floor. Relentless on every second of every possession, this floor general noticeably plays with the biggest weapon he has — his heart.
2. JAQUON PARKER, CINCINNATI
THE SKINNY: Pound for pound the toughest player in all of college basketball, the 6-foot-3 Parker was the main reason why the Bearcats were able to advance to the Sweet 16 last season. Undersized but never over matched, Parker played power forward for Mick Cronin and despite his size, had a breakout year playing out of the position. With one year left in his collegiate career, Parker will return to the perimeter next season as he’ll pair with Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick to give Cronin the best back court he’s ever had as a head coach.
3. JUNIOR CADOUGAN, MARQUETTE
THE SKINNY: Built like a fullback, Cadougan plays like a champion. The 6-foot-1, 205 pound point guard has anchored the Golden Eagles back court the past two years — both of which concluded withMarquette in the Sweet 16. Buzz Williams’ team was 13-2 last season in games where Cadougan had two turnovers or less.
4. ANTHONY COLLINS, SOUTH FLORIDA
THE SKINNY: “The General” as he’s often referred to by Stan Heath did more than just leadSouth Florida to the NCAA Tournament last season — he helped the Bulls program get the respect it so desperately deserved. Up until the first week of March, people still made case after case of whySouth Florida didn’t deserve to be in the field of 68 — but Collins wouldn’t let that chatter disrupt the Bulls’ chemistry. TheHouston native played like a senior even though he was a freshman and steered South Florida to impressive tournament victories over bothCal andTemple.
5. RAHLIR HOLLIS-JEFFERSON, TEMPLE
THE SKINNY: Whatever Fran Dunphy needs, Hollis-Jefferson will do. An undersized power forward by definition, the 6-foot-6 senior to be was huge on the boards last season for the Owls when starting center Micheal Eric battled an injury. Look for Hollis-Jefferson to be Temple’s primary focal point in the paint for the 2012-13 season.
6. WILL YEGUETE, FLORIDA
THE SKINNY: There’s no doubt in my mind that the Gators would have beatenLouisville and advanced to the Final Four if they had a healthy Yeguete in the lineup. The 6-foot-7 forward was lost in late February to a broken foot andFlorida was never really able to replace his intangibles. A terrific athlete and capable defender, Yeguete should bounce back with a big season in as the Gators once again figure to be right in the mix for an SEC title.
7. BRANDON TRICHE, SYRACUSE
THE SKINNY: The ultra poised Triche has been a model of consistency for Jim Boeheim over the past three seasons. A timely shooter that’s always under control, this 6-foot-4 combo guard blends perfectly amongst theOrange’s deep array of stars.
8. SOLOMON HILL, ARIZONA
THE SKINNY: In a lot of ways Hill is a like an all you can eat buffet — you get a little bit of everything. A capable scorer and rebounder, Hill is also an improving distributor and will play more small forward next season as he hopes to lead the Wildcats back to where they crave to be —- the NCAA Tournament.
9. E.J. SINGLER, OREGON
THE SKINNY: Ducks coach Dana Altman told me last year it may be physically impossible for Singler to extract anything more out of himself once his basketball career is over. A gym rat with a high IQ and incredible floor balance, the 6-foot-6 small forward is a relentless worker who gets a little better each time he steps on the floor.
10. SCOTT MARTIN, NOTRE DAME
THE SKINNY: This lefty forward has been a symbol of leadership for the Irish, who are expected to be picked in the Big East’s top three or four to start next season. A terrific passer with the ability to play multiple positions, Martin will return toSouth Bend for his sixth season in 12-13 as one of the more experienced players in all of college basketball.
Who else will make an impact in college basketball this year? Voice your opinion in the comments below…