Since I posted my first list of the top 25 players in Division I, Syracuse has replaced Arizona as the nation's No. 1 team, Marcus Smart has been suspended for three games, and projected No. 1 overall draft pick Joel Embiid has been classified as injured by his coach. All of this means that a lot has changed in three short weeks. Time for a new ranking of the game's best players.
Remember the premise behind this list. Let's pretend for a moment that the NBA doesn't exist, and so projected draft order doesn't figure into this conversation at all -- there is no draft! In the here and now, which players have helped their college teams the most? This list constitutes my answer to that question, with help from a number of sources, including but not limited to:
The excellent individual player stats generated by Ken Pomeroy at kenpom.com
Data on play-by-play performance collected by Jeff Haley and available at hoop-math.com
Translations that project NBA performance based on college metrics, compiled and maintained by my Insider colleague Kevin Pelton
Win Shares data available from sports-reference.com

One final note: I stand shoulder to shoulder with the Big 12 in all of its disciplinary actions, so Smart is temporarily suspended from my list. We'll see where he checks in when 3.0 hits your screen.
To my eyes, these are the 25 best players in the country right now:
Note: Statistics as of Feb. 11.

1. Doug McDermott, Creighton Bluejays
2. Jabari Parker, Duke Blue Devils
3. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse Orange
4. Russ Smith, Louisville Cardinals
5. Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh Panthers
6. Aaron Gordon, Arizona Wildcats
7. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut Huskies
8. Nick Johnson, Arizona Wildcats
9. Kyle Anderson, UCLA Bruins
10. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati Bearcats
11. Julius Randle, Kentucky Wildcats
12. Xavier Thames, San Diego State Aztecs
13. Perry Ellis, Kansas Jayhawks
14. C.J. Fair, Syracuse Orange
15. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas Jayhawks
16. Gary Harris, Michigan State Spartans
17. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State Shockers
18. Joel Embiid, Kansas Jayhawks
19. JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova Wildcats
20. Alan Williams, UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
21. Nik Stauskas, Michigan Wolverines
22. K.J. McDaniels, Clemson Tigers
23. Jordan Adams, UCLA Bruins
24. Adreian Payne, Michigan State Spartans
25. Melvin Ejim, Iowa State Cyclones



6. Aaron Gordon, Arizona Wildcats

I realize I have Gordon a little higher than some other list-makers might, but I did declare the freshman to be Arizona's most valuable player and I'll stick to that here. Gordon is Sean Miller's MVP because the Wildcats are a team built on defense, and without the 6-9 freshman's rare combination of size and agility, that D would be measurably less effective.
True, Gordon's season totals on offense -- most especially his 42 percent shooting at the line -- indicate a young talent that's a work in progress. (And for a 42 percent free throw shooter to average one 3-point attempt per game surely merits a special Profile in Courage award. Or maybe that should go to Miller for giving Gordon a green light.) But despite those limitations on offense, the freshman has shown some proverbial flashes, such as his 17-point effort on 8-of-12 shooting against Oregon State last weekend. In a highly-hyped freshman class nationally, Gordon has done his fair share in meeting those expectations.


8. Nick Johnson, Arizona Wildcats
Over the course of his three seasons at Arizona, Johnson has evolved from a supporting player who struggled to make shots into the reliable and productive featured scorer on one of the nation's top two teams. That's a testament to both Johnson and his coach. (And when you think of the jump in performance that Derrick Williams recorded between his freshman and sophomore seasons, it does make you wonder whether Sean Miller is some kind of player development guru.)
I may tout Gordon as the Wildcats' most valuable player, but there's no doubting Johnson's importance to this team. Arizona is good much more often than it is great on offense, and to compete, the Wildcats need their star to do what he does. Johnson has been highly effective inside the arc this season while showing just enough perimeter range to command some attention out there. He also distributes the ball and stays away from turnovers. If he ends up staying for another season, his improvement to date suggests fans in Tucson may be treated to an amazing senior season.

Whole Story: http://insider.espn.go.com/mens-coll...ege-basketball