With about a month and a half until the start of the DI men's college basketball season, Andy Katz broke down the best playmakers heading into the 2020-21 season, ranking 15 guards he sees as potential winners of this year's Bob Cousy Award.
Katz unveiled his rankings on the latest edition of the March Madness 365 podcast. He also was joined by Big East expert John Fanta, Villanova star guard Collin Gillespie and Turner Sports' Chad "March Chadness" Aycock to talk about potential contenders from smaller conferences. You can listen to the full episode below.
Here are Andy Katz's top 15 Bob Cousy Award candidates for the 2020-21 college basketball season:
15. Ja'vonte Smart — LSU, Junior
Ja'vonte Smart will look to be one of the best guards in the SEC this season. The 6-foot-4 junior hopes to lead the Tigers to a top-five finish in the SEC and maybe compete for an SEC tournament crown. Smart did a little bit of everything during his sophomore campaign, averaging 12.5 points, 1.1 steals and 4.2 assists per game.
14. Jalen Crutcher — Dayton, Senior
With no Obi Toppin, last season's Naismith Player of the Year, Jalen Crutcher will look to be the primary scorer for the Flyers this season. Even with Toppin in the lineup, Crutcher still put up solid numbers for Dayton last year, averaging 15.1 points and 4.9 assists per game.
13. Fatts Russell — Rhode Island, Senior
Fatts Russell is going to be a player to keep an eye on in the Atlantic 10 this season. The 5-foot-10 guard was Mr. Everything for the Rams last season, averaging 18.8 points, 4.6 assists and 2.9 steals per game. His speed and efficiency put him as the third-leading scorer in the A-10 last season.
12. McKinley Wright IV — Colorado, Senior
Katz thinks McKinley Wright IV will be one of the best players in the Pac-12, and the 6-foot guard has the numbers to back it up. Wright averaged 14.4 points, 5.7 boards and five assists per game last season, leading the Buffaloes in points and assists.
11. Kihei Clarke — Virginia, Junior
Kihei Clarke might be the best point guard in the ACC this season, as he is the only guard out of the conference to make it on this list. Clarke already has National Championship experience, winning one with UVA in 2018 and will look to lead the Cavs to an ACC Championship and deep tourney run in 2021.
10. Jacob Gilyard — Richmond, Senior
Katz has Richmond as one of his sleeper teams that could make a deep tournament run come March, and Jacob Gilyard has a lot to do with how successful the Spiders will be this season. The senior guard only stands at 5-foot-9, but he has put up some outstanding numbers during his career. He averaged 12.7 points, 3.2 steals and 5.7 assists last season.
9. Colbey Ross — Pepperdine, Senior
If Pepperdine wants to compete with powerhouse Gonzaga in the WCC it will have to look to Colbey Ross for leadership, scoring and playmaking. Ross could end up being the highest scorer on this list by the end of the season, but he can also pass the ball extremely well. He put up 20.5 points and 7.2 assists per game last season.
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8. Geo Baker — Rutgers, Senior
For the first time in a long time, there is a lot of buzz surrounding Rutgers this season, and with Geo Baker running the show, there is a good reason for it. Baker might not stand out compared to other Big Ten stars, but don't be surprised if he has a breakout season for the Scarlet Knights this year.
7. Collin Gillespie — Villanova, Senior
Villanova leader Collin Gillespie is the second player with National Championship-winning experience to land on this list. Gillespie has improved every season with the Wildcats and will look to compete for Big East Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3 point guard averaged 15.1 points and 4.5 assists last season for 'Nova.
6. Marcus Garrett — Kansas, Senior
The defending Naismith National Defensive Player of the Year will try to compete for the Bob Cousy award in a conference loaded with talent at the guard position. Garrett excelled on the defensive end last season but will need to improve a little bit on the offensive end to challenge for this award. He will be one of the go-to guys for the Jayhawks this season.
5. Remy Martin — Arizona State, Senior
Remy Martin enters this year as the front-runner for Pac-12 Player of the Year, and for good reason — Martin averaged 19.1 points and 4.1 assists last season and will hope to improve as one of college basketball's stars during the 2020-2021 campaign. He also ranks as No. 5 in Andy Katz's preseason National Player of the Year rankings.
4. Marcus Zegarowski — Creighton, Junior
Marcus Zegarowski will be one of the more intriguing storylines for the 2020-21 season. Coming off of a serious knee injury, the 6-foot-2 point guard could be one of the best in the nation as he attempts to lead Creighton to a Big East championship. Zegarowski averaged 16.1 points and five assists per game last season before getting injured at the end of the regular season.
3. Cade Cunningham — Oklahoma State, Freshman
There is a reason Cade Cunningham is the only freshman to make this list — he's expected to be the best out of his class, and might even compete to be the best player in college basketball. Clocking in at No. 3 on Katz's National Player of the Year rankings, Cunningham will be expected to be one of the best playmakers in the country.
2. Jared Butler — Baylor, Junior
The Big 12 is loaded with talent at the guard position and Jared Butler is just another example of that. Expected to compete with Cade Cunningham and Marcus Garret for Big 12 Player of the Year, Butler will attempt to improve upon his 16 points and 3.1 assists per game last season to help lead Baylor to a Big 12 title.
1. Ayo Dosunmu — Illinois, Junior
Ayo Dosunmu tops Katz's list for the Cousy Award contenders, as the 6-foot-5 guard will not only be competing for this award but will also be in contention for Big Ten Player of the Year, National Player of the Year and will look to help lead Illinois to a Final Four. Dosunmu hopes to improve upon his sophomore campaign's 16.6 points and 3.3 assists per game and break out as college basketball's next star.