College basketball has evolved throughout the years, but the luxury of having quality senior leadership will help any team immensely. Frank Kaminsky, a senior, won the Naismith Award last season and led Wisconsin to the national championship game. And while Duke had some star-studded freshmen in 2014-15, senior Quinn Cook was crucial in the Blue Devils’ title run.
You know the names below. Heck, some of them may seem like they’ve played at their school for eight years. And that’s why they’ll play a huge role in this college basketball season – when the game is on the line, it’s always good to have a seasoned veteran directing traffic.
With all of that in mind, here is your NCAA.com all-senior team for the 2015-16 season.
C: Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga
Wiltjer isn’t necessarily a true center, but considering the top-notch backcourt talent this senior class has, it’s the only way he’s going to find his way into this starting lineup. And he’s more than deserving.
The 6’10”, 240-pounder can do it all on offense. He can score in the post, find teammates when he’s doubled in the post and, perhaps most impressively, knock down the 3. Wiltjer shot a blistering 46.6 percent from behind the arc last season, and he figures to be the Bulldogs’ first option on offense in his final year in Spokane.
Side note: simply saying 'he can shoot' might be a bit of an understatement.
PF: Georges Niang, Iowa State
Spoiler alert: this hypothetical team would be impossible to guard. Niang, like Wiltjer, knows how to spread out a defense, as he shot 40 percent from distance last season. He plays in a high-octane Iowa State offense, and he’s athletic and strong enough to hang with bigger players on the defensive end.
Niang has excellent vision, too. Having a stretch 4 is one thing; having a playmaking 4 unlocks a whole different world of possibilities for a college basketball offense. Niang averaged 3.4 assists per game for the Cyclones last season, an outstanding mark for someone of his 6’7”, 245-pound stature.
SF: Ron Baker, Wichita State
Sure, Baker plays shooting guard for the Shockers, but he’ll guard anyone and everyone on the basketball court. The four-year player has improved his scoring marks in all three seasons, and he is half of one of the most fearsome backcourts in college hoops with fellow senior Fred Van Vleet.
Baker’s greatest strength on the court is that he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses. In regards to your typical ‘glue guys,’ being well-rounded is a supremely valuable attribute.
And if that's not the most Ron Baker highlight ever, I'm not sure what is. It's the little things, you guys.
SG: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
Hield is in this lineup to put the orange in the basket. Plain and simple. He notched 17.4 points per game last season, and he scored them in a variety of ways. Hield is sturdily build at 214 pounds, and he can get to the rack at will. He also possesses a solid outside shot.
Oklahoma has a chance to challenge Kansas for the Big 12 crown this season, and Hield’s senior leadership could guide the Sooners towards the top of the standings.
PG: Marcus Paige, North Carolina
Paige’s numbers dipped a bit in his junior season in Chapel Hill, but folks are very high on the Tar Heels for 2015-16. No. 5 returning at point guard is a major reason why.
UNC was mainly devoid of outside shooters a year ago, and there was a lot of pressure on Paige not only to create for his teammates, but to make it rain from deep himself. He’ll have an improved supporting cast this season, and when all is said and done, Paige could end up being the best point guard in the country in 2015-16.
Honorable mention: F Perry Ellis III (Kansas), G Fred Van Vleet (Wichita State), G/F Caris LeVert (Michigan), F Anthony Gill (Virginia), G/F Damion Lee (Louisville), G Kellen Dunham (Butler), G Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova)