Not that preseason player rankings matter, but ESPN released its top 100 players in college basketball for the upcoming season, and no Syracuse University players made the list. I’ll give you a moment to process the fact that the experts at ESPN think 100 players, including 21 freshmen who have never played a single second of college basketball, are better than Michael Gbinije.
Look, I realize that last season was disappointing for the Orange. I also realize that Gbinije has had some ups and downs in his career – starting with a truncated, disappointing freshman year at Duke – but I ask the 26 ESPN analysts, with all due respect:
Are you fucking kidding me?
There are a lot of terrific players in college basketball. Michael Gbinije is absolutely one of them, and the continued lack of respect is a little mind boggling. Last night, he showed signs of becoming a dominant scorer at the college level as his confidence level and shooting stroke continue to get better. This year, the Orange are his team, and I fully expect him to put up some big-time numbers and earn All-ACC consideration. Maybe not first team, or even second team, but at the very least I anticipate he’ll be a third team honoree.
Last season, Gbinije averaged 12.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game while shooting 46% from the field and 39.2% from three point range. His perimeter game is getting better and, with the ball in his hands so much this year as the projected starting point guard for Jim Boeheim’s squad, I expect his point and assist totals to increase. He’ll be the go-to scorer and the top distributor on the team. It’s not out of the question for him to put up a stat-line of around 17.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game (I’m not going over five assists – it’s surprisingly rare for Syracuse players not named Sherman Douglas to hit six dimes per game. Only three have ever averaged that many for their entire careers: Douglas, Pearl Washington, and Jonny Flynn).
Yet somehow, he doesn’t crack the top 100 for ESPN. I hate to pick on individual players, except when it comes to Ryan Arcidiacono, of course. I can’t stand that guy. He’s the most punchable player in college hoops. And somehow, he cracked the top 100, probably because he somehow finagled a co-Big East Player of the Year Award last year, which speaks more to the level of play in that conference than anything else. This is a dude who averaged 10.1 points, 3.6 assists, and 1.7 rebounds per game while shooting 39.4% from the field and 37.2% from long distance.
And you’re trying to tell me he’s one of the 100 players supposedly better than Michael Gbinije? Please.
Again, at the end of the day these polls and player rankings are utterly meaningless. As the old saying goes, it’s why they play the games. Talk is cheap, and what you do on the court speaks more loudly than anything anyone can say in the press.
And that’s why at the end of the season, when the next equally asinine top 100 player poll is thrown together, I fully expect it to include Michael Gbinije.