Lutz Blog

No love for VanVleet

I have another chip for Gregg Marshall and his Wichita State basketball players to put on their shoulders.

Wednesday afternoon, as I was looking around for things to read, I came across a list of the Top 25 playersFred VanVleet (right) has been as important to Wichita State as any player in the country has been to his college basketball this season, compiled by ESPN Insider John Gasaway.

Well, first of all, I would suggest that Gasaway get outside more often.

Anyway, as I suspected, the list, which I’ll run down later, includes no player from the fifth-ranked Shockers, who take a 19-0 record into tonight’s game at Illinois State. Not one.

I don’t want to sound like a homer here, but if you’re going to compile a list of the best 25 players in college basketball season and you’re not putting Fred VanVleet on that list, you’ve lost me.

The Shockers’ Cleanthony Early did make the Wooden Award midseason Top 25 list, revealed Wednesday. So there’s that and congratulations to Early.

But VanVleet is the midseason MVP of the Shockers. And while he’s only a sophomore, and he wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American, and Dicky V isn’t shouting his name from the rooftops, VanVleet has to be one of the best 25 players in the country this season.

Has to be.

Look at his assist-to-turnover rate. Look at the way he’s shooting the ball. Look at his steals and how many times he gets to the free-throw line. Look at his defense.

VanVleet has been amazing for the Shockers. Key word there? Shockers.

By failing to list VanVleet, Gasaway is falling in line with so many others nationally who refute Wichita State’s No. 5 ranking and unbeaten record. He’s not a believer, obviously. And I hate to generalize because I have never spoken with Gasaway about Wichita State.

To omit VanVleet, though, is to omit credibility.

Gasaway writes that he used several sources to help him with his rankings, including,, and translations that project NBA performance based on college metrics.

He also wrote that his list was not meant to be a referendum on how a player might perform at the next level. He’s adamant that he’s grading college players based on their college performance.

Well, I use when it comes to VanVleet. And while I’ve seen many of the other players on the list, I obviously haven’t seen them nearly as often as I’ve seen VanVleet.

So here is Gasaway’s Top 25:

1. Doug McDermott, Creighton

2. Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

3. Lamar Patterson, Pittsburgh

4. Tyler Ennis, Syracuse

5. Julius Randle, Kentucky

6. Jabari Parker, Duke

7. DeAndre Kane, Iowa State

8. Jordan Adams, UCLA

9. Joel Embiid, Kansas

10. C.J. Fair, Syracuse

11. Russ Smith, Louisville

12. JayVaughn Pinkston, Villanova

13. K.J. McDaniels, Clemson

14. Casey Prather, Florida

15. Rodney Hood, Duke

16. Nick Johnson, Arizona

17. Keith Appling, Michigan State

18. Aaron Gordon, Arizona

19. Kyle Anderson, UCLA

20. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut

21. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas

22. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati

23. Nik Stauskas, Michigan

24. Xavier Thames, San Diego State

25. Jordan Bachynski, Arizona State

It’s a good list. I’ve seen most of these players, at least in a game or two.

I’ve seen VanVleet play most of his young college career. He’s a great point guard and this ESPN insider has been cooped up too long.