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November 2, 2010

Preseason Power Rankings: Shooting guard

The best shooting guard in the nation probably will be starting his season a little late.

Baylor senior LaceDarius Dunn's outstanding performance last season has him as the No. 1 shooting guard in the initial Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

Dunn ranked second in the Big 12 in scoring at 19.6 points per game last season while helping Baylor advance to the NCAA South Regional final. He needs just 518 more points to become the Big 12's career scoring leader and is 91 3-pointers away from topping the conference's career list in that category as well.

But he probably won't join his teammates in time for the start of the season. Dunn remains under suspension in the wake of an offseason arrest on an aggravated assault charge.

Our list of the nation's top 25 shooting guards features plenty of guys with something to prove.

Dunn led Baylor to its first regional final since a 1950 Final Four appearance. The No. 2 shooting guard is Duke's Nolan Smith, who won a national championship last season. But the next three guys on the list include one freshman and two returning players whose teams failed to make the NCAA tournament last season.

Here are the top 25 shooting guards entering the season.

1. LaceDarius Dunn (6-4/200, Sr.), Baylor: Dunn currently is under suspension following his arrest on an aggravated assault charge. He averaged 19.6 points per game last season and set single-season school records for points (704) and 3-pointers (116).

2. Nolan Smith (6-2/185, Sr.), Duke: Smith averaged 17.4 points and 3.0 assists last season while helping the Blue Devils win the national championship. He was named the most outstanding player of the NCAA South Regional.

3. Will Barton (6-6/175, Fr.), Memphis: The No. 11 overall prospect in the 2010 recruiting class possesses enough size to cause immediate matchup problems. He helped Brewster (N.H.) Academy win the National Prep Championship crown.

4. Travis Leslie (6-4/202, Jr.), Georgia: Leslie averaged 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds last season and created many highlight-worthy plays with his extraordinary athleticism. He closed the season with a 34-point performance against Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament.

5. Alec Burks (6-6/195, Soph.), Colorado: Burks averaged 17.1 points and a team-high 5.0 rebounds last season. He became the first Colorado freshman since 1985-86 to lead his team in rebounding.

6. Durrell Summers (6-5/205, Sr.), Michigan State: Summers has struggled with consistency thus far in his career, but his NCAA tournament performance suggests he's ready to deliver a breakthrough season. Summers averaged 18.0 points in five NCAA tournament games.

7. William Buford (6-5/205, Jr.), Ohio State: Buford averaged 14.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season as an effective sidekick to Evan Turner. Now that Turner has moved on to the NBA, look for Buford to deliver even more production.

8. E'Twaun Moore (6-4/191, Sr.), Purdue: Moore has led the Boilermakers in scoring in each of the past three seasons. Last season, he became the third player in school history to lead the Boilers in points (16.4) and assists (2.7) in the same season.

9. Charles Jenkins (6-3/220, Sr.), Hofstra: Jenkins was one of only five players in the nation last season to average at least 20 points, four rebounds and three assists. He was named the Colonial Athletic Association player of the year.

10. Austin Freeman (6-3/235, Sr.), Georgetown: Freeman ranked 11th in the Big East in scoring at 16.5 points per game last season and made 52.5 percent of his shots. He enters his senior season as the Big East preseason player of the year.

11. Klay Thompson (6-6/202, Jr.), Washington State: Thompson ranked second in the Pac-10 in scoring (19.6) and 14th in rebounds (5.1) to earn first-team all-conference honors last season. He was the Cougars' leading scorer in 21 of their 31 games.

12. Reggie Bullock (6-7/190, Fr.), North Carolina: The No. 10 prospect in the 2010 recruiting class, Bullock was named The Associated Press state high school player of the year in North Carolina last season after finishing second to John Wall in the voting a year earlier. He has excellent size and great range, and he should provide the Heels with a big-time 3-point threat.

13. Jeremy Hazell (6-5/188, Sr.), Seton Hall: Hazell has averaged more than 20 points per game in each of the last two seasons. He earned second-team All-Big East honors last year after being a third-team all-conference selection as a sophomore. More judicious shot selection is needed, though.

14. Tre'Von Willis (6-4/195, Sr.), UNLV: Willis led the Rebels in scoring at 17.2 points per game and also averaged 2.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists last season. He pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery charges in September and will serve a suspension for at least 10 percent of the season.

15. Cory Higgins (6-5/180, Sr.), Colorado: Higgins has led Colorado in scoring in each of the past two seasons. He ranked fourth in the Big 12 at 18.9 points per game last season and earned third-team all-league honors.

16. Scotty Hopson (6-7/200, Jr.), Tennessee: Hopson hasn't produced outstanding numbers so far -- he averaged 12.2 points and 3.4 rebounds last season -- but the former five-star prospect should get a bigger role this season now that he's Tennessee's unquestioned go-to guy.

17. Jeremy Green (6-4/198, Jr.), Stanford: Green made a school-record 93 3-pointers last season and also averaged 16.6 points and 3.8 rebounds. He was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection.

18. Ty Abbott (6-3/205, Sr.), Arizona State: Abbott came on strong down the stretch last season, as he averaged 15.2 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 40.6 percent from 3-point range over his final 18 games.

19. Maurice Creek (6-5/200, Soph.), Indiana: Creek was averaging 16.4 points and 3.8 rebounds through the first 12 games of his freshman season before he fractured his left knee, knocking him out for the rest of the season. His return should provide a huge boost for a team still struggling to find its way back from NCAA probation.

20. Kenny Boynton (6-2/183, Soph.), Florida: Boynton averaged a team-high 14.0 points as a freshman and capped the season by scoring 27 points in a first-round NCAA tournament loss to BYU. He wore down last season because Florida lacked backcourt depth, but his defense remained a constant.

21. Kim English (6-6/200, Jr.), Missouri: English led the Tigers in scoring at 14.0 points per game last season on his way to earning third-team All-Big 12 honors. He ranked 16th in the Big 12 in scoring, 13th in steals and 10th in 3-pointers per game and 3-point percentage.

22. Durand Scott (6-3/200, Soph.), Miami: The versatile Scott filled the stat sheet as a freshman by averaging 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals. He was the fifth player in school history to collect 100 points, 100 rebounds and 100 assists in a single season.

23. Steven Gray (6-5/205, Sr.), Gonzaga: Gray averaged 13.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.2 steals last season. He ranked second on his team in points, assists and steals, and he should play an even bigger role this season.

24. C.J. McCollum (6-3/180, Soph.), Lehigh: McCollum led all freshmen nationwide with 18.9 points per game last season and was the first freshman in Patriot League history to be named the league's player of the year. He scored 26 points in a first-round NCAA tournament loss to Kansas.

25. Tyshawn Taylor (6-3/185, Jr.), Kansas: Taylor averaged 7.2 points and compiled nearly twice as many assists as turnovers last season. He should have a larger role in the offense this season as the Jayhawks attempt to replace Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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