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October 31, 2011

Preseason power rankings: Small forwards

EARLIER: Point guards | Shooting guards

Our preseason ranking of the nation's top small forwards reunites two former Ames (Iowa) High teammates.

North Carolina sophomore and Ames alum Harrison Barnes' outstanding clutch shooting and postseason performance in his freshman season make him the No. 1 small forward in the preseason edition of the Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top performers at each position.

At the No. 9 spot is former Ames teammate Doug McDermott, who is entering his sophomore season at Creighton. McDermott ranked fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference in scoring (14.9) and second in rebounding (7.2) as a freshman.

Barnes and McDermott were high school classmates who helped Ames win 53 consecutive games and back-to-back state championships. Ames was so strong that McDermott was a second-team all-state selection when he averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds as a junior, even though he wasn't a starter that season.

McDermott earned first-team all-state honors and averaged 20.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a senior. Barnes averaged 27.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.0 steals as a senior and was the Morgan Wootten national high school player of the year.

Here's a complete rundown of our top 20 small forwards. Our unveiling of the preseason power rankings continues Tuesday with a look at the nation's 20 best power forwards.

The top 20 small forwards
1. Harrison Barnes (6-8/215, Soph.), North Carolina
The 2010-11 ACC rookie of the year was playing as well as just about any player in the country by the end of his freshman season. He showed his ability to deliver in the clutch by hitting go-ahead or game-winning shots against Virginia Tech, Clemson (three times), Miami, Florida State and Washington. He averaged 21.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament.
2. Kris Joseph (6-7/210, Sr.), Syracuse
This former Big East sixth man of the year moved into the starting lineup last season and averaged a team-high 14.3 points to go with 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He should have even more responsibilities this season as Syracuse attempts to replace Rick Jackson in the frontcourt.
3. Khris Middleton (6-7/210, Jr., Texas A&M
Middleton ranked ninth in the Big 12 in scoring (14.4) and eighth in free-throw percentage (.784) last season. He also averaged 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
4. Robbie Hummel (6-8/215, Sr.), Purdue
His comeback attempt from two ACL injuries will be one of the most interesting stories of the season. Hummel was a first-team All-Big Ten pick in 2008 and 2010 before missing last season. If he stays healthy, Hummel should contend for All-America honors.
5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (6-7/232, Fr.), Kentucky
Rated as the No. 3 prospect in the 2011 recruiting class, Kidd-Gilchrist was one of five finalists for the Naismith and Morgan Wootten national high school player of the year awards. He averaged 20.2 points and 11.0 rebounds last season for Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick.
6. LeBryan Nash (6-7/230, Fr.), Oklahoma State
The No. 6 prospect in the 2011 recruiting class led Dallas Lincoln to a 114-22 record in his four-year prep career. He won the slam-dunk competition at the McDonald's All-American Game.
7. Christian Watford (6-9/225, Jr.), Indiana
Watford ranked 10th in the Big Ten in scoring (16.0) and ranked second in the league in free-throw percentage (.843) last season despite missing three games with a broken hand. Watford should flourish this season now that he has more talent around him.
8. Tim Abromaitis (6-8/236, Sr.), Notre Dame
After averaging 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds to earn third-team All-Big East honors last season, Abromaitis spent the summer playing for Team USA in the World University Games. He has made 160 career 3-pointers while shooting 42.2 percent from beyond the arc. Abromaitis will miss the first four games of the 2011-12 season because he played in a couple of exhibitions during a season in which he redshirted.
9. Doug McDermott (6-7/220, Soph.), Creighton
McDermott, the son of Creighton coach Greg McDermott, set a Missouri Valley Conference freshman record by scoring 581 points last season. He was the first freshman since 1952 to earn first-team All-Missouri Valley honors. He also joined Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant as the only freshmen nationally since 2002 with at least 525 points, 270 rebounds and 40 3-pointers.
10. Cleveland Melvin (6-8/205, Soph.), DePaul
Melvin was the 2010-11 Big East rookie of the year and the only unanimous pick to the conference's all-rookie team. He averaged 14.3 points per game overall and 17.4 points per game in Big East competition. He made 52.0 percent of his shots.
11. Tony Mitchell (6-6/210, Jr.), Alabama
Mitchell heads into his third season as a starter after earning second-team All-SEC honors last season. Mitchell averaged 15.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season while delivering a team-high 63 dunks.
12. Quincy Miller (6-9/210, Fr.), Baylor
The No. 7 prospect in the 2011 recruiting class averaged 25.5 points, 12 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.0 blocks as a junior at Winston-Salem (N.C.) Quality Education Academy before tearing his ACL last year. The injury isn't expected to limit him this season.
13. Jeffery Taylor (6-7/225, Sr.), Vanderbilt
This fourth-year starter has earned second-team All-SEC honors in each of the past two seasons. He averaged 14.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game last season, but still battles inconsistency.
14. Jae Crowder (6-6/235, Sr.), Marquette
Crowder, a former national junior college player of the year from Howard (Texas) College, averaged 11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in his first season at Marquette. He ranked 10th in the Big East in offensive rebounding (4.5).
15 Bradford Burgess (6-6/225, Sr.), VCU
Burgess has been a fixture in VCU's starting lineup each of the past three seasons. He has made 150 career 3-pointers while shooting 41.4 percent from beyond the arc. Burgess averaged 15.7 points and 7.0 rebounds in last season's NCAA tournament.
16. Dominique Morrison (6-6/210, Sr.), Oral Roberts
Morrison averaged 19.5 points and 5.0 rebounds last season. He also shot 40.4 percent from 3-point range. He had 22 points and 11 rebounds in a Summit League tourney championship loss to Oakland.
17. Alex Young (6-6/212, Sr.), IUPUI
His 1,633 career points are the most ever by a IUPUI player in its Division I era. Young led the Summit League in scoring (19.7) and minutes (36.6) last season. He scored at least 20 points in 17 games last season, and has the most points of any current player nationally.
18. Chace Stanback (6-8/215, Sr.), UNLV
The versatile Stanback averaged 13.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals last season. The UCLA transfer earned third-team All-Mountain West honors in 2009-10, his first season with the Rebels.
19. Travis McKie (6-7/210, Soph.), Wake Forest
As one of the lone bright spots in Wake Forest's dismal 2010-11 season, McKie became just the 10th freshman in ACC history to lead his team in scoring (13.0) and rebounding (7.7).
20. Jamar Samuels (6-7/230, Sr.), Kansas State
Samuels averaged at least 8.0 point and 4.7 rebounds per game in each of his first three seasons. He averaged 8.5 points and 5.4 rebounds last season while making 21 starts.

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



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