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November 4, 2010

Preseason Power Rankings: Power forwards

Marcus Morris certainly wasn't Kansas' best-known player last season. But by the end of the season, he just might have been the Jayhawks' best player.

Although he was overshadowed by All-America point guard Sherron Collins as well as first-round picks Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, Morris played a critical role in making sure Kansas hovered near the top of the national rankings all season.

Morris certainly wasn't the first option on most Kansas possessions, yet he still ranked third on the team in scoring (12.8) and second in rebounding (6.1) while emerging as one of the nation's most improved players.

Now that Aldrich, Collins and Henry have moved on to the pro ranks, Morris should start earning some overdue attention. Morris, a 6-foot-9 junior, is the No. 1 power forward in the preseason edition of the Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

That our top-ranked power forward didn't even earn first-team all-conference honors last season underscores the lack of star power at the position. But while there isn't necessarily a clear-cut choice as the No. 1 power forward, this position does feature an abundance of depth. The first 13 selections on this list also were included in our preseason countdown of the nation's top 50 overall players.

Here are the top 25 power forwards entering the season.

1. Marcus Morris (6-9/235, Jr.), Kansas: Morris averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds, and may have been the most consistent performer for a star-studded Kansas team. His numbers will go up significantly this season as the Jayhawks try to replace Sherron Collins, Xavier Henry and Cole Aldrich.

2. Trey Thompkins (6-10/245, Jr.), Georgia: The preseason SEC player of the year earned first-team all-conference honors from coaches and the media last season. He ranked second in the SEC in scoring (17.7) and fourth in rebounding (8.3).

3. Jon Leuer (6-10/228, Sr.), Wisconsin: Leuer averaged 15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks last season to lead the Badgers in all three categories. He came back from a midseason wrist injury and averaged 19.3 points over the Badgers' last four games of the season.

4. Elias Harris (6-7/245, Soph.), Gonzaga: Harris averaged 14.9 points and a team-leading 7.1 rebounds per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the field as a freshman. Harris, a native of Germany, earned first-team All-West Coast Conference honors.

5. Derrick Williams (6-8/241, Soph.), Arizona: Williams ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring (15.7) and sixth in rebounding (7.1), and he was 12th nationally in field-goal percentage (.574). He earned first-team All-Pac-10 honors and was named the conference's freshman of the year.

6. Tracy Smith (6-8/255, Sr.), N.C. State: Smith ranked seventh in the ACC in scoring (16.5) and ninth in rebounding (7.3) last season. He also shot 52.4 percent to lead the ACC in field-goal percentage.

7. Kawhi Leonard (6-7/225, Soph.), San Diego State: Leonard became the first freshman in MWC history to earn all-conference honors last season. He also was named the MVP of the MWC tournament. He averaged 12.7 points and 9.9 rebounds, and should be a double-double guy this season.

8. Tobias Harris (6-8/226, Fr.), Tennessee: The No. 7 prospect in the 2010 recruiting class, Harris was a McDonald's All-American and New York's Mr. Basketball selection. He averaged 24.7 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.3 blocks as a senior at Half Hollow Hills West High in Dix Hills, N.Y.

9. Kevin Jones (6-8/260, Jr.), West Virginia: Jones set a school record last season by pulling down 135 offensive rebounds. He averaged 13.5 points and 7.2 rebounds while also ranking second on the team with 42 3-pointers. He shot 40.4 percent from beyond the arc.

10. Chris Wright (6-8/226, Sr.), Dayton: Wright led the Flyers in scoring (13.7), rebounding (7.3) and blocks (1.4) to earn first-team All-Atlantic 10 honors last season. He was a second-team all-conference selection two years ago.

11. Draymond Green (6-6/230, Jr.), Michigan State: Green is one of college basketball's most versatile big men. He averaged 9.9 points and 7.7 rebounds in a reserve role last season while also contributing 3.0 assists, 0.9 blocks and 1.2 steals per game.

12. Lavoy Allen (6-9/225, Sr.), Temple: Allen was a first-team All-Atlantic 10 pick last season and has made the conference's all-defensive team in back-to-back seasons. He averaged 11.5 points and ranked 11th nationally with 10.7 rebounds per game last season.

13. Damian Saunders (6-7/210, Sr.), Duquesne: Saunders ranked second in the nation in steals (2.8), sixth in rebounds (11.2), sixth in double-doubles (20) and 13th in blocks (2.9) last season. He was the only forward to rank among the nation's top 15 players in steals.

14. Herb Pope (6-8/236, Jr.), Seton Hall: Pope averaged 10.7 rebounds per game last season to become the first Pirate to lead the Big East in that category. He also averaged 11.3 points and ranked fifth in the Big East with 1.8 blocks per game.

15. JaMychal Green (6-8/228, Jr.), Alabama: This third-year starter averaged 14.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game last season. He ranked ninth in the SEC in rebounding and 17th in the conference in scoring, and should increase his production in both categories this season.

16. John Shurna (6-8/215, Jr.), Northwestern: Shurna set school single-season records for points (619) and field goals (217) to earn second-team All-Big Ten honors last season. He averaged 18.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists. He led the conference with 2.9 3-pointers per game.

17. Curtis Kelly (6-8/239, Sr.), Kansas State: This Connecticut transfer averaged 11.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 1.6 assists last season while shooting 56.5 percent from the floor in his first season with the Wildcats.

18. John Henson (6-10/210, Soph.), North Carolina: This former five-star prospect averaged only 5.7 points and 4.4 rebounds as a freshman, but his late-season production suggests he could emerge as one of the nation's most improved players this season.

19. Mike Davis (6-9/225, Sr.), Illinois: Davis averaged 9.2 rebounds last season and became the first Illinois player in 23 years to lead the Big Ten in that category. He also averaged 10.7 points and produced 15 double-doubles.

20. Marshawn Powell (6-7/220, Soph.), Arkansas: Powell averaged 14.9 points and 6.7 rebounds last season. He had the second-highest rebounding average and third-leading scoring average among all freshmen in school history.

21. Nikola Vucevic (6-10/240, Jr.), USC: Vucevic led the Pac-10 with 6.3 offensive rebounds per game and ranked fourth in the conference with 39 blocks last season. He averaged 10.7 points and 9.4 total rebounds per game.

22. Jeff Allen (6-7/230 Sr.), Virginia Tech: Allen is the ACC's active career leader in rebounds (781), steals (191) and blocks (189). He averaged 12.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.2 blocks last season.

23. Chris Gaston (6-7/220, Soph.), Fordham: Gaston ranked fifth in the nation in rebounds (11.4) and was fourth in the Atlantic 10 in scoring (18.0) last season despite playing on a dreadful team. He scored a total of 504 points, the most by any Fordham player since 1972-73.

24. Rick Jackson (6-9/240, Sr.), Syracuse: Jackson averaged 9.7 points and 7.0 rebounds last season, and he also ranked third in the Big East in field-goal percentage (.591). He is entering his third season as a starter.

25. Quincy Acy (6-7/225, Jr.), Baylor: Acy averaged 9.3 points and 5.1 rebounds as Baylor's sixth man last season. He made 69.7 percent of his shots to match the highest single-season field-goal percentage in school history.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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