Commentary

Four who stand above the rest

Updated: December 10, 2008, 1:29 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

When I look at college basketball, there are four elite superstars who are head and shoulders above the rest in the race for Player of the Year.

Tyler Hansbrough was so impressive against ranked opponents Notre Dame and Michigan State. Absolutely incredible how he has been a dominant force. Hansbrough draws fouls and converts from the line and he has improved his range on his jump shot. Injuries may have slowed him earlier, but he looks like he's in form now.

Oklahoma's Blake Griffin has become a rebounding machine. When you look at his stats, you have to be in awe. He's had games of 35 points and 21 rebounds vs. Gardner-Webb, 18 points and 21 rebounds in the Preseason NIT Tip-Off championship game, and many other strong showings. All he has to do now is improve his free throw shooting; if he can be more consistent there, watch out. Griffin has been dominant for Jeff Capel's up-and-coming squad.

What can you say about Davidson's Stephen Curry? He's a scoring machine, he can handle the rock and he's by far the best all-around combo guard in the nation. Just think back to the way Curry took the Wildcats on his back and almost got the team to the Final Four. His heroics fell just short against the eventual national champion Kansas.

Talking about All-Americans, nobody at the point guard slot is playing better than Ty Lawson of North Carolina. His numbers are staggering: against Michigan State he had seven steals, eight assists and no turnovers while scoring 17 points. Lawson was also the MVP out in Maui.

The Tar Heel guard has to be consistent. He has improved on the defensive end and that is certainly a plus for North Carolina. Roy Williams' kids have looked absolutely phenomenal.

Those four players have been dominant.

You can make a case early in the season that North Carolina and Duke have looked the best, with Connecticut right up there after wins over Miami-Florida and Wisconsin in the Paradise Jam. I also love Gonzaga as the Zags will be a major factor all year long. The Tar Heels and Blue Devils could have quite a pair of showdowns.

Oklahoma has potential but it is tough on the road in the Big 12. Diaper dandy Willie Warren can be a major factor for the Sooners.

It is going to be a great year in college hoops.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.