2010-11 preview: Best frontcourts

Two teams on Tobacco Road crack the top three in our rankings of the top frontcourts in the country.

But the difference-maker is a freshman who chose one ACC rival over the other.

TOP FRONTCOURTS

12. Kansas: Bill Self has the Morris Twins — Marcus and Markieff — with sophomore Thomas Robinson coming off the bench. The Jayhawks also have 7-footer Jeff Withey in the mix.

11. Georgia: Trey Thompkins is one of the best frontcourt players in the nation, and Travis Leslie emerged a year ago under Mark Fox. Look for freshman Marcus Thornton to make an immediate impact and also don’t be surprised if big man Jeremy Price is a double-double kind of guy.

10. Gonzaga: Elias Harris wasted no time making an impact last season as a freshman, and Robert Sacre is a man in the middle for the ‘Zags. The key here is the development of Kelly Olynyk.

9. San Diego State: It’s too bad the Aztecs don’t get much pub, because Steve Fisher has one heck of a frontline with Kawhi Leonard, Malcolm Thomas and Billy White. Illinois transfer Brian Carlwell gives the team a big body coming off the bench for depth.

8. Minnesota: It’s a deep group that includes small forward Rodney Williams and big guys like Ralph Sampson, Colton Iverson, Trevor Mbakwe and freshman Maurice Walker.

7. Florida: Because of his versatility, I’m not quite sure where to put Chandler Parsons, but we’ll toss him in as part of the Gators’ frontcourt — which is extremely deep. Vernon Macklin and Alex Tyus are both experienced, and sophomore Erik Murphy and freshman Patric Young are ready to contribute.

6. Tennessee: The Vols lost Wayne Chism up front, but veteran Brian Williams is back and sophomore Kenny Hall should get some of Chism’s minutes. Freshman forward Tobias Harris is a star, and Tennessee also added one-year UNC Wilmington transfer John Fields and Marquette transfer Jeronne Maymon, who is eligible at the break.

5. Michigan State: As long as Delvon Roe is healthy — or at least healthier than he has been — the Spartans should have a tough frontline. Draymond Green has come a long way, and Derrick Nix and Garrick Sherman are more than serviceable with a year under their belt. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact talented big man Adreian Payne makes this season.

4. Florida State: Chris Singleton is the household name of the group, but there’s more in Tallahassee. Look for long and athletic 6-foot-11 Xavier Gibson to fill the role left by Solomon Alabi, and two other big men — junior college standout Bernard James and Jon Kreft — will give Leonard Hamilton plenty of size and options up front.

3. Duke: Kyle Singler is back and in the mix for National Player of the Year, and look for the Plumlee Brothers — Miles and Mason — to take a step forward with the departure of veterans Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas.

2. Ohio State: You’ve got versatile veteran forward David Lighty, veteran big man Dallas Lauderdale, and then you add arguably the top freshman post player in the nation, Jared Sullinger. Thad Matta also adds another quality freshman frontline player in Dashaun Thomas.

1. North Carolina: The Tar Heels already have Tyler Zeller and John Henson — a pair of long and talented big guys — in the fold. Roy Williams has added arguably the top freshman in the country, forward Harrison Barnes, and also grabbed strong and physical big man Justin Knox, who has one year of immediate eligibility left after transferring from Alabama.

*Kentucky: This one depends on whether Turkish big man Enes Kanter is eligible. If he is, the Wildcats would have Kanter, veteran Darius Miller and freshman Terrence Jones, with big man Josh Harrellson remaining in a reserve role. If Kanter isn’t cleared, UK doesn’t crack this list.