When we debuted my initial Impact 25 player rankings in the preseason, I wrote that it would not simply be a list of the 25 best or most talented players in college basketball, nor would it be a ranking of the top 25 prospects for the 2013 NBA draft.
Instead, it was intended to be a collection of players who would have the greatest impact on their teams, conference races and college basketball in general. That's our focus with this updated version, our third of the 2012-13 season. In essence, it serves as a snapshot of the most impactful players in college hoops right now, three months into the season. (As you'll see in going through the list, we've had a lot of change from the preseason list to the December edition to now.)
I realize that this list is subjective and that there will be plenty of disagreement over my rankings. That's a good thing, because we all view the basketball season through the prism of our own experiences.
Here is my latest ranking of the top 25 impact players in the nation for the 2012-13 season.
1. Trey Burke
Point guard | Sophomore | Michigan Wolverines
In a season that has seen some outstanding point guard play, Burke is clearly the best all-around player at his position in college basketball. Averaging 18 points per game, he has been in double figures in every game. And in addition to averaging seven assists per game, he has a very impressive 3.7-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
John Beilein has always been a gifted offensive coach who can scheme X's and O's with the best of them. But when it comes to Burke, he has applied a "less is more" approach by allowing him to use his offensive gifts in transition and ball-screen isolation plays. The 6-foot sophomore from Columbus, Ohio has responded with a remarkably efficient season so far and is arguably the most important reason the Wolverines are No. 1 in the country.
Previous ranking: 3
Forward | Junior | Creighton Bluejays
McDermott is the standard for offensive efficiency in college basketball this season. What he is doing is remarkable given that opponents know that he is taking more than one-third of the Bluejays' shots when he is on the floor and are preparing their defenses to stop him every night.
The late Rick Majerus used to talk about the "180 shooter" -- a player who could shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from behind the 3-point line and 90 percent from the foul line. McDermott is close, as he is averaging almost 24 points per game by shooting 56 percent from the field, 49 percent from behind the arc and 88 percent from the charity stripe. And at 6-8, he has the rare ability in college basketball to score from anywhere on the floor.
Previous ranking: 2
3. Ben McLemore
Guard | Freshman | Kansas Jayhawks