College Basketball
College basketball tiers: Zach Edey, Jalen Wilson headline top closers
College Basketball

College basketball tiers: Zach Edey, Jalen Wilson headline top closers

Updated Feb. 24, 2023 12:36 p.m. ET

Game is on the line. One last possession. You’ve got to get a bucket, either a two inside, a trip to the free-throw line or a 3-pointer. 

Who is going to have the ball in their hands and deliver in the clutch?

Here are my favorite closers who can get it done in the postseason, separated into three tiers.

Tier 1: The best of the best


Zach Edey, Purdue: It's not often you see a 7-foot-4 big man be a team's closer, but that is certainly the case with Edey, who is a mismatch whenever he is on the floor. Get him the ball inside deep in the post, and it’s over, just ask Michigan State.

Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana: Jackson-Davis can create on his own, but more importantly, he will draw contact and will finish with authority. The senior forward threw down a huge two-handed slam in the final seconds to secure a win over Illinois this past weekend.

Jalen Wilson, Kansas: Wilson doesn’t shy away from the moment. The 6-foot-8 junior leads the Big 12 in scoring at 19.9 points per game. He can score in a variety of ways and relishes a late-game situation.

Tyger Campbell, UCLA: When the seconds are ticking down and the game is on the line, Campbell will make a play for himself or someone else. He has started every game he has played in during his four years at UCLA, and his experience matters late.

Aidan Mahaney, Saint Mary’s: This freshman standout has played like a seasoned vet. Mahaney hit a deep fadeaway jumper with 0.3 seconds remaining to lead Saint Mary's to a one-point win over BYU. He will shine in March.

Andy Katz shares his tiers of the best closers in college basketball

Indiana's Trayce Jackson-Davis and Purdue's Zach Edey headline Andy Katz's three tiers of the best closers in college basketball.

Tier 2: Next in line

Drew Timme, Gonzaga: Timme needs to get the ball late in games, and once he does, he can use angles to get a bucket or to the line. He is one of the most creative scorers in the country.

Marcus Carr, Texas: Carr has been hitting big shots in the Big Ten and Big 12 throughout his career. March won't be any different.

Tyson Walker, Michigan State: Walker has relished his role as a big-game shot-maker for coach Tom Izzo. He was outstanding in the Spartans' 80-65 win over Indiana on Tuesday, hitting several big shots down the stretch.

Jalen Pickett, Penn State: Pickett is a tough matchup for any defender. If the Nittany Lions can get into the NCAA Tournament field, he will find a way to influence the end of a game.

Kenan Blackshear, Nevada: If the Wolf Pack are in a close game, Blackshear will be in position to make a buzzer-beater. He has done it this season. Just go back and watch his game-winning jumper to beat New Mexico earlier this year.

Kenan Blackshear hits a game-winning buzzer-beater vs. New Mexico

Kenan Blackshear's buzzer-beater gives Nevada the win over New Mexico.

Tier 3: The sleepers

Jahmir Young, Maryland: Young has flourished in this role this season. He is Maryland's top scorer, averaging 16.1 points per game, and the guy the Terps want with the ball in his hands in a close game.

Boogie Ellis, USC: Ellis is a stat stuffer. The senior guard already has two games with 30-plus points this season, including a 33-point effort in a win over Stanford this past weekend. If the ball is in his hands late, then he will shine.

Ace Baldwin, VCU: The Rams wouldn’t be atop the Atlantic 10 if it weren’t for Baldwin’s scoring prowess. If the team is able to get the ball to him late, he can close.

Gabe Kalscheur, Iowa State: Kalscheur has been making big shots in the Big Ten and Big 12, and he will continue to do so. The senior guard hit a clutch game-winning 3-pointer with five seconds remaining to lead the Cyclones to a win over TCU.

Bryce Hopkins, Providence: Hopkins, who transferred to Providence from Kentucky, has been outstanding for the Frairs. He is a big-time scorer and is not afraid of the big moment.

Gabe Kalscheur plays hero ball, hits game-winning 3 vs. TCU

Gabe Kalscheur's late 3 leads No. 25 Iowa State to upset over No. 17 TCU.

Others under consideration:

- Fletcher Loyer, Purdue 
- Cam Spencer, Rutgers 
- Isaiah Wong, Miami (Fla.) 
- Tyree Appleby, Wake Forest 
- Terquavion Smith, NC State 
- Markquis Nowell, Kansas State 
- Keyonte George, Baylor 
- Tyler Kolek, Marquette 
- Souley Boum, Xavier 
- Jordan Hawkins, UConn 
- Trey Alexander, Creighton 
- Matt Bradley, San Diego State 
- Jamal Mashburn Jr., New Mexico 
- Tyrin Lawrence, Vanderbilt 
- Zakai Zeigler, Tennessee 
- Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M 
- Jeremy Roach, Duke 
- Caleb Love, North Carolina 
- Azuolas Tubelis, Arizona

Andy Katz is a longtime college basketball writer, analyst and host. He can be seen on the Big Ten Network, as well as March Madness and, and he hosts the podcast "March Madness 365." Katz worked at ESPN for nearly two decades and, prior to that, in newspapers for nine years.

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