The DPI Gradebook: Top 51 Returning Players from the Gold Star Guide
As another college basketball season approaches, the second installment of the Gold Star Guide is already starting to take shape in the background.
For the uninitiated, the Gold Star Guide serves as the metric for measuring individual players here at The DPI Gradebook. The ratings are not based on specific statistical information; instead, points are awarded to players based on a holistic view of their performance in each game.
Borrowing from the spirit of the NHL’s famous “three-star” system, the Guide attributes a gold, silver and bronze star to the top three performers in every Division I game. Those stars are converted into points, adjusted for opponent quality and — voila! — the resulting number is referred to as Star Power.
(Read a more detailed description of the original methodology here. However, there will be a few changes to the calculations this year, so be on the lookout for an update to this in the coming days.)
Before we completely close the book on the 2020-21 season, it is worth looking back on some of the top performers in the first iteration of the Gold Star Guide. Out of the top 100 players in the Guide last year, 51 of them are back for more in 2021-22.
Here is a look at how they stack up, listed in order of finish from last season. By the way, don’t get too caught up in the ordering here. Many of these guys will see larger and/or different roles this season as their situations and locations are vastly different from the previous campaign. Regardless of where they finish this time around, all of these players are worth knowing about going into the new season. (Transfers are noted with an asterisk.)
- Marreon Jackson, G, Sr., Arizona State* (20-21 Rank: No. 9 overall) — Jackson traded in a star season in the cold confines of Toledo for the point guard gig out in sunny Tempe. Bobby Hurley landed a floor general and a lead scorer in Jackson, the reigning MAC Player of the Year.
- KC Ndefo, F, Sr., Saint Peter’s (20-21 Rank: No. 13) — Shocking as it is to see a low-major player from a non-tournament team this high, it is a testament to just how dominant Ndefo was for the Peacocks. The two-time MAAC DPOY is back after averaging 13.7 points and 3.6 blocks.
- Kofi Cockburn, F, Jr., Illinois (20-21 Rank: No. 14) — Cockburn was an All-American last year, but he suffered some in these rankings due to sharing the spotlight with Ayo Dosunmu (20-21 Rank: No. 11). This season, Cockburn is in line for an even bigger year as the Illini’s primary alpha dog.
- Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Jr., Indiana (20-21 Rank: No. 16) — Sure, there is a lot of hype in the Hoosier fan base because of the Mike Woodson hiring. The most important offseason move, however, was retaining the services of TJD — a likely All-American and the heart of the team.
- Max Abmas, G, Jr., Oral Roberts (20-21 Rank: No. 19) — The man with the tricky last name (it’s ‘ACE-muss’) is back at ORU to drum up some more March magic. Abmas led the country in scoring a year ago, and with his top running mates gone, he may just do it again.
- Julian Champagnie, F, Jr., St. John’s (20-21 Rank: No. 20) — For whatever reason, Champagnie’s monster season went somewhat unheralded in terms of the college basketball zeitgeist. The Big East even shut him out of a three-way POY tie, despite averaging 19.8 points and 7.4 rebounds.
- Grant Sherfield, G, Jr., Nevada (20-21 Rank: No. 21) — Sherfield is one of the most dangerous guards in the country, routinely putting the Wolf Pack on his back at the ends of games. The preseason Mountain West POY is why folks in Reno are rightfully dreaming of a Big Dance bid.
- Alex Barcello, G, Sr., BYU (20-21 Rank: No. 22) — Barcello won’t be a part of the Big 12/BYU era, but the former Arizona player is a bona fide high-major talent no matter where he plays. He has a beautiful shooting stroke, a fiery competitive streak and the full trust of coach Mark Pope.
- Taevion Kinsey, G, Sr., Marshall (20-21 Rank: No. 23) —Mid-major fans and C-USA nuts know Kinsey well after he hung a cool 19.5 points per game on the mantel last year. Kinsey is a fine shooter but does his best work attacking the bucket (74.2 percent on 132 at-the-rim attempts).
- Marcus Carr, G, Sr., Texas* (20-21 Rank: No. 24) — The final feather in Chris Beard’s cap, Carr’s transfer to Texas instantly launched the Horns into title contention. Carr averaged 19.4 points and 4.9 assists as the alpha on a listless Minnesota team but now has more options around him.
- Baylor Scheierman, G, Jr., South Dakota State (20-21 Rank: No. 25) — There are a few stars on the Jackrabbits’ team, but Scheierman stands out as one of the nation’s best rebounders among point guards, averaging 9.2 boards to go along with his impressive 15.4 points and 4.0 assists.
- David Roddy, F, Jr., Colorado State (20-21 Rank: No. 27) — While CSU is not a one-man show, it is hard to argue against anyone besides Roddy being the conductor of the hype train. The burly wing is a terror all over the court and will be squarely in the running for Mountain West POY.
- Kendric Davis, G, Sr., SMU (20-21 Rank: No. 29) — All Davis did last season was lead the AAC in scoring (19.0 points per game) and assists (7.6 per game) while carrying SMU to a fourth-place finish. With some extra talent around him this year, Davis could lead the Mustangs to the Dance.
- Drew Timme, F, Jr. Gonzaga (20-21 Rank: No. 30) — The Mustache this low!? Oh, it be so. Timme had a relatively low score in the Guide despite forcing his way into the national POY talks. The low-ish score is a byproduct of sharing the rock with Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs.
- Stanley Umude, G/F, Sr., Arkansas* (20-21 Rank: No. 32) — Umude transfers into the Hogs’ program after starring at South Dakota the past three seasons. He is a dynamite mid-range shooter (47.5 percent on 200 attempts last year) and was efficient even at extremely high usage.
- Collin Welp, F, Sr., UC Irvine (20-21 Rank: No. 35) — The key cog in Irvine’s plans for Big West power, Welp is a big-bodied forward with deft footwork and good passing. He is also smart and careful, averaging just 3.0 combined turnovers and personal fouls per game for his career.
- Damian Chong Qui, G, Sr., Purdue Fort Wayne* (20-21 Rank: No. 36) — After leading The Mount to the Big Dance last season, DCQ ditched his Baltimore roots and joined up with Fort Wayne. The crafty 5-8 guard arrives as an instant contender for Horizon Player of the Year honors.
- Michael Flowers, G, Sr., Washington State* (20-21 Rank: No. 37) — Flowers gave college hoops one of its most special moments last year, hitting a game-winning shot against FAU just hours after the passing of his father. Now, the former South Alabama star tries his hand in the Pac-12.
- Davion Warren, G, Jr., Texas Tech* (20-21 Rank: No. 38) — Forget He Who Shall Not Be Named. The Lubbock faithful are as excited as ever with a not-exactly-new coach in Mark Adams, and a potential new star in Warren, who scored 21.2 points per game at Hampton a year ago.
- John-Michael Wright, G, Jr., High Point (20-21 Rank: No. 40) — One of the true deep cuts on this list, Wright has quietly been a star for Tubby Smith’s team the past two seasons. Last year, he averaged 20.7 points, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals on his way to an All-Big South first team nod.
- Hunter Dickinson, C, So., Michigan (20-21 Rank: No. 42) — Michigan fans, this isn’t a jab at your guy. Dickinson suffered the same fate as Timme, being a star on a team full of them. To be clear, after making All-America lists as a freshman, Dickinson should be a unanimous pick this year.
- Jalen Moore, G, Sr., Oakland (20-21 Rank: No. 46) — Moore was a revelation for Greg Kampe’s team after transferring in from the JUCO ranks and averaging 17.9 points per game for Oakland. With backcourt mate Rashad Williams gone, Moore could set an even higher scoring mark.
- Timmy Allen, G/F, Sr., Texas (20-21 Rank: No. 48) — The former Utah star was one of the major items on Chris Beard’s wish list this past #GoodGetSZN. It’s no wonder, as the 6-6 Allen scored over 17 points per game last year while also dishing out the fifth-most assists in the Pac-12.
- Gaige Prim, F, Jr., Missouri State (20-21 Rank: No. 49) — One half of the Bears’ 1-2 punch, Prim is a stout, strong forward who can go body-to-body with any big man in the Missouri Valley. His averages of 16.7 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.5 “stocks” earned him a spot on the All-MVC team.
- Eli Scott, F, Sr., Loyola Marymount (20-21 Rank: No. 52) — Scott has been instrumental in helping to turn LMU back into a league contender. The two-time All-WCC forward lacks deep range, but he makes up for it by being a strong finisher at the basket and a dynamite passer.
- Antoine Davis, G, Sr., Detroit (20-21 Rank: No. 53) — Davis has been must-see television ever since stepping on the court in the Motor City. A short 2020-21 season may have ruined his run at the NCAA career 3-point record, but he will likely be the 20th player ever to make 400 triples.
- Isaiah Wong, G, Jr. Miami (FL) (20-21 Rank: No. 54) — Wong is one of the best pure scorers in the ACC, but his talents are obscured by a struggling Hurricane program. To wit, Wong scored more points than anyone in the ACC last year, but he still only made second team all-league.
- Wendell Green Jr., G, So., Auburn* (20-21 Rank: No. 55) — Following a stellar freshman campaign at EKU, Green will be counted on for production in Bruce Pearl’s backcourt at Auburn. That becomes especially true as fellow Tiger Allen Flanigan recuperates from a serious injury.
- Torrey Patton, F, Sr., Cleveland State (20-21 Rank: No. 57) — After leading the Vikings to a Horizon League title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, Patton is back for Dennis Gates. He was named MVP in the league tourney, so expect him to parlay that into a POY-level season.
- Tyson Etienne, G, Jr., Wichita State (20-21 Rank: No. 58) — One of the most underappreciated guards nationally, Etienne is the reigning Player of the Year in the AAC. As a sophomore, he put up 16.3 points per game while shooting 39.2 percent from deep and picking up a steal per game.
- DeVante’ Jones, G, Sr., Michigan* (20-21 Rank: No. 66) — If Jones can carry over the immense production that made him the Sun Belt POY last season, Juwan Howard and Michigan will be tough to beat. Jones averaged 19.3 points and 2.8 steals for Coastal Carolina in 2020-21.
- Remy Martin, G, Sr., Kansas* (20-21 Rank: No. 67) — After making his name as one of the best scorers in the Pac-12 during his run at Arizona State, Martin is ready for a new challenge. He slots into a Kansas lineup that has Final Four aspirations after a relatively early exit last season.
- Hayden Brown, F, Sr., The Citadel (20-21 Rank: No. 68) — Though he stands at just 6-5, Brown managed to average a double-double for The Citadel, scoring 18.8 per game to go along with 10.5 rebounds. If he rediscovers the deep shot that eluded him last year, Brown will be deadly.
- Ledarrius Brewer, G, Sr., ETSU (20-21 Rank: No. 69) — In his first season at ETSU after transferring in from SEMO, Brewer made the All-SoCon team and put up 16.2 points per game on 38.6 percent shooting from deep. The 6-5 guard can really fill up the bucket.
- Storm Murphy, G, Sr., Virginia Tech* (20-21 Rank: No. 70) — After starring for Wofford the past few seasons, Murphy is now back with former head coach Mike Young and former teammate Keve Aluma. The sharpshooter will be one of the best in the ACC and makes VT a dark horse.
- Grayson Murphy, G, Sr., Belmont (20-21 Rank: No. 72) — One of the most versatile guards in the game, Murphy’s scoring does not jump off the page at just 10.9 points per game. However, he contributes all over the floor, adding averages of 8.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals.
- James Akinjo, G, Sr., Baylor* (20-21 Rank: No. 73) — If the Bears defend their title, Akinjo will be a major factor in how it happens. After balling out for Georgetown and Arizona, the point guard will take over primary ballhandler duties in Waco. He has All-Big 12 potential from the get-go.
- Keve Aluma, F, Sr., Virginia Tech (20-21 Rank: No. 74) — Coming in just a few spots below his new (old) teammate, Aluma was an All-ACC second-teamer after putting up 15.2 points and 7.9 rebounds in his first year for Virginia Tech. The 6-9 forward also picked up 1.3 blocks nightly.
- Trevion Williams, F, Sr., Purdue (20-21 Rank: No. 75) — One of the top big men in the Big Ten, Williams comes into the year with All-America hype. The 6-10, 265-pound bruiser racked up 15.5 points and 9.1 boards a season ago and will look to erase some bad March memories.
- Darrion Trammell, G, Jr., Seattle (20-21 Rank: No. 76) — After flirting with the NBA Draft, Seattle’s scorer extraordinaire decided to come back to school. Trammell led the WAC in scoring at 20.5 points per game, adding 5.3 assists and 2.0 steals to his all-conference resume.
- Malachi Smith, G, Jr., Chattanooga (20-21 Rank: No. 78) — The Mocs started out 9-0 last season, thanks in large part to the efforts of Smith. Forming an elite backcourt duo with David Jean-Baptiste, Smith was All-SoCon after notching 16.8 points, 8.8 boards and 3.3 assists.
- Alex Morales, G, Sr., Wagner (20-21 Rank: No. 79) — The NEC Player of the Year is back and has his eyes set on more hardware this season. Morales pulled back from the NBA Draft after scoring 16.8 points per game a year ago, and he puts Wagner fully in the hunt for the auto-bid.
- Jamaree Bouyea, G, Sr., San Francisco (20-21 Rank: No. 81) — Bouyea has improved in each of his four season at USF, culminating in an All-WCC first team selection in 2021. With an extra year of eligibility, expect him to make the cut again after scoring 17.3 points per game last season.
- Jayden Gardner, F, Sr., Virginia* (20-21 Rank: No. 82) — Following a fantastic three years at ECU, Gardner is going to be relied upon for a lot of production in Tony Bennett’s offense. In 81 career games with the Pirates, the 6-7 forward put up averages of 18.0 points and 8.7 rebounds.
- Isiaih Mosley, F, Jr., Missouri State (20-21 Rank: No. 83) — Though teammate Gaige Prim is a bit higher in these rankings, do not make the mistake of calling this a Batman-and-Robin duo. Mosley is truly a star in his own right, scoring just shy of 20 points per game to lead the MVC.
- Johni Broome, F, So., Morehead State (20-21 Rank: No. 84) — Broome was integral to his team’s run to the NCAA Tournament last season. Despite going to a relatively obscure school, the sophomore has NBA potential after logging 13.8 points, 9.0 boards and 1.9 blocks in Year 1.
- Peter Kiss, G, Sr., Bryant (20-21 Rank: No. 91) — Smithfield is electric with optimism coming into the season, and Kiss could play a huge role in taking Bryant to its first-ever Big Dance. On his third collegiate stop, Kiss put up a career-high 16.6 points per game for the Bulldogs last year.
- Nate Watson, C, Sr., Providence (20-21 Rank: No. 93) — Another entry from the great state of Rhode Island, Watson would have real Big East POY potential if drags the Friars to the postseason. Regardless, the fifth-year senior is one of the top offensive centers in the nation.
- Jalen Ray, G, Sr., Hofstra (20-21 Rank: No. 97) — After leading the team in scoring as a senior, Ray came back to help new head coach Speedy Claxton’s transition into the program. With Tareq Coburn gone to St. John’s, Ray could theoretically improve on a gaudy 19.3-point average.
- EJ Liddell, F, Jr., Ohio State (20-21 Rank: No. 99) — Liddell was the driving force behind OSU’s success last year, and in an unfortunate twist, also the target of undeserved animus following a first-round upset. The 6-7, 240-pound Liddell should be an All-Big Ten first teamer again.
It is likely that this year’s top Gold Star earner will come from this list of 51 players. That said, new stars pop up every season, so we will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings all year long. Join us here at The DPI Gradebook throughout the 2021-22 season as we track the top individual performers in all of college basketball.