By Dennis Berry
The 2011-12 season is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. Part of that is thanks to the NBA. Because of the fear of the Lockout, some of the best players in the country decided to stay in college another year.
Here is our list of the best returning players.
10. JaMychal Green, Alabama
The Mr. Everything for Alabama is back for his senior year. In his junior year, Green was the biggest reason for the turnaround for Alabama basketball. He averaged 15.5 points and 7.8 rebounds a game last year. Look those numbers to get closer to 20 & 10 for 2011-12.
9. John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Jenkins returns to Vanderbilt coming off a huge sophomore season. Last season he averaged 19.5 points a game and shot 46% from the field and over 40% from the three point line. Jenkins has the advantage of another year with the core of Vanderbilt team from last year. Another year in the same system with the same teammates should benefit Jenkins.
8. Kris Joseph, Syracuse
Look for this season to be a breakout season for the senior Kris Joseph. There are high expectations in Syracuse this year and Joseph is reason why. The 6'7" small forward can slash and attack the basket, but he will have to improve his jump shot. If he can do that, he will become more dangerous to his opponents.
7. Khris Middleton, Texas A&M
The one thing that new Texas A&M Bill Kennedy had to be excited about was getting the chance to coach Middleton. He made his name known in the Big 12 last season when he averaged 14.4 points last season. Look for that scoring average to rise as Middleton becomes the main scoring threat for the Aggies.
6. Terrence Ross, Washington
Ross's freshmen season was like most freshmen. He was up and down throughout the season and only averaged 8 points a game. He stepped up his game in the Pac-10 Tournament last season, averaging 15.3 points in three games. In the NCAA he had 19 against North Carolina. That should be what to expect from him this season.
5. Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
In Lamb's freshman season he helped lead to the Huskies to a National Championship. That was as the second option behind Kemba Walker. In his sophomore season Lamb will be the man. He averaged 14 points during the Huskies Big East Tournament run and then 17.2 during the NCAA.
4. Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Most people thought Jones would be NBA bound after a great freshman season. Jones had other ideas and returned to improve his game. Last year he averaged 15.7 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. If Jones can improve his jumper and add to his lost post games, he should be closer to a 20 points a game this coming season.
3. Perry Jones, Baylor
This could be a huge year from the Baylor big man. Like Terrence Jones, many were surprised that Perry came back for his sophomore season. He averaged 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds last season. Both should go up and as he averaged a double-double and becomes more of a force on defense for the Bears.
2. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
After Ohio State lost to Kentucky in the Elite 8, he said he would come back. Well he kept his word. That is bad news for the rest of the Big 10. Last year he went for 17.2 points and 10 rebounds a game, look for something closer to 20 & 10 this year and for him to be even more physical in the paint.
1. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
He might have gotten off to a slow start last season, but he got it going when it mattered. He averaged 15.7 a game last year, but that should go up. He surrounded by talented players, but he will be the main scoring threat. He will have plenty of one on one match ups to work against. If he improves his outside shooting, he will be the best player next year.
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