By Jon Rothstein
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JAMEEL WARNEY, STONY BROOK
THE SKINNY: It’s easy to see why so many BCS-level programs were after this 6-8 power forward. Built like a blacksmith, Warney has already made a major impact for Stony Brook, and the Seawolves have yet to play a conference game. A ferocious rebounder with good accuracy around the rim, this freshman is shooting just under 60 percent from the field and averaging 11.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per contest. Stony Brook will go to multiple NCAA Tournaments as long as Steve Pikiell has this horse in his starting lineup.
BRIANTE WEBER, VCU
THE SKINNY: Opposing point guards are going to have nightmares after they play VCU because of this menace. A tenacious on-ball defender, Weber is officially the biggest nuisance in college basketball. In the nine games the Rams have played this season, Weber has already had three steals or more on five separate occasions.
MARCUS THORNTON, WILLIAM & MARY
THE SKINNY: The Tribe is off to a surprising 6-3 start thanks to this 6-4 guard. After enjoying a solid freshman year, Thornton looks like he’s destined to be one of the better players in the CAA as a sophomore. So far this season, Thornton is averaging 18.3 PPG while shooting 48 percent from the field and 44.2 percent from three-point range.
RAY CINTRON, MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
THE SKINNY: How did Cintron make this list? It’s simple, he’s the X-factor for the Blue Raiders in the Sun Belt. The long range sniper will be the key for Middle Tennessee State this season because when he’s knocking down shots from deep, the Blue Raiders are a different basketball team. Cintron made three-of-four triples in Saturday’s upset of Ole Miss and has hit multiple three pointers in four straight games. Pencil this 6-foot senior in at 40 percent or better from behind the three-point line.
ANTHONY IRELAND, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT
THE SKINNY: Not many guards in college basketball fill the box score like Ireland. Only standing 5-10, this junior scores 21.1 points per game, grabs 5.4 rebounds each time he takes the floor, and also dishes out 4.8 assists. Ireland has become a better long range shooter than he was a season ago and should single-handedly keep the Lions in the WCC hunt.
ERIC MORELAND, OREGON STATE
THE SKINNY: Moreland is officially the best rebounder in college basketball that no one knows about. Built like a track star at 6-10 and 215 pounds, Moreland has a great second jump and swallows everything that comes off the glass on a regular basis. His rebounding average (11.6 per game) is roughly five more boards a game than he averaged last season.
MARSHALL HENDERSON, OLE MISS
THE SKINNY: Rebels coach Andy Kennedy told me prior to the season that he felt Henderson had all the requisites to be one of the better newcomers in the SEC and it’s hard to argue with him after Henderson’s start to the season. The 6-2 junior is leading Ole Miss in scoring at 17.1 PPG and gives the Rebels an outside threat they didn’t have last season.
ANTHONY CLEMMONS, IOWA
THE SKINNY: The forgotten man in the Hawkeyes’ recruiting class may wind up being one of their most pivotal pieces. Since being inserted into the starting lineup, Clemmons has dished out 21 assists to only two turnovers and helped Iowa to three consecutive wins.
TYREEK DUREN, LA SALLE
THE SKINNY: Philadelphia has been the home of many great lead guards and Duren’s game mirrors the city in which he plays. Tough, savvy, and incredibly cerebral, the junior point guard plays his best when it matters most and has already made two shots late in games that have propelled the Explorers to dramatic victories. Through seven tilts this season, Duren is leading La Salle in scoring and assists.
DAMYEAN DOTSON, OREGON
THE SKINNY: We heard chatter out of Eugene this summer that Dotson could be a player for the Ducks but we never thought that he’d be leading the team in scoring. Long, athletic, and skilled at 6-5, Dotson has the makings of an All-PAC-12 player down the line. His progression will be paramount this season if Oregon is going to have a chance to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Who’s No. 11? Let Jon know in the comments…