About two months into the 2014-2015 college hoops season, Latinos are thriving all around the country. Underclassmen, in particular, having taken on integral roles and are playing with the poise of upperclassmen. Here is my updated list of the top 10 (and one) Latinos in college basketball. There are some new names on the list, and some have been removed due to injuries and suspensions:
1. Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky, Freshman, Center, Dominican
2014-2015 stats: 8.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 51 fg% in 20.3 mpg
Previous Rank: 1
Like I said in my initial list, don’t expect gaudy numbers from Towns this season. Kentucky simply has too much depth, especially in the frontcourt, for Towns to produce eye-popping numbers. If you do look deeper into his numbers, however, advanced statistics tell a different story about Towns’ impact. His player efficiency rating is 25.6, a very solid figure despite his limited minutes. His block percentage is 12.0, and his defensive rating is 72.3 (second in the country, behind teammate and fellow big man Willie Cauley-Stein). Those statistics prove that Towns is a menace defensively, protecting Kentucky’s paint. Towns is projected as a top-three NBA pick come June by various mock drafts, and he’ll only get better as the season progresses.
2. J.J. Avila, Colorado State, Redshirt Senior, Forward, Mexican
2014-2015 stats: 15.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.3 apg, 1.9 spg, 55 fg% in 32.6 mpg
Previous Rank: 3
Colorado State got off to their best start in school history by winning 14 consecutive games, and Avila has been integral to their success. Avila leads CSU in points, rebounds, assists and steals and shoots 55 percent from the field. Remarkable numbers for a 6-foot-7 power forward who’s just an average athlete. Avila has continued his stat-sheet-stuffing ways for a CSU team that has surprised many with their hot start. As CSU continues to excel, look for Avila to get more publicity as well. He’s a fun player to watch because he’s very skilled and can beat you in a number of ways.
3. Angel Rodriguez, Miami, Redshirt Junior, Point Guard, Puerto Rico Native
2014-2015 stats: 14.6 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.1 spg in 31.7 mpg
Previous Rank: 4
Rodriguez has been the catalyst for upstart Miami, his game-winning three against Florida in Gainesville on 11/17 was one of the bigger upsets early on in the season. Miami is 11-4 with Rodriguez leading the way at point guard. He leads Miami in assists and steals, and is second on the team in scoring. His play thus far shouldn’t as a big surprise though, since Rodriguez was a standout at Kansas State prior to transferring to Miami.
4. Devin Booker, Kentucky, Freshman, Wing, Puerto Rican
2014-2015 stats: 10.7 ppg, 30 3-pointers on 50 3fg% in 20.2 mpg
Previous Rank: Unranked
Coming into the season, Booker wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as his fellow freshmen teammates. Sophomore Aaron Harrison was returning as the team’s starting shooting guard after a standout performance in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and junior Alex Poythress was slotted to start at small forward. But 15 games into the 2014-2015 season, Booker has proven to be Kentucky’s X-factor, given his ability to make shots from long distance as the Wildcats' best perimeter threat. Booker is second on the team in scoring (one of only two double-digit scorers on Kentucky) and leads Kentucky in three-pointers made and three point field goal percentage. When Poythress was lost for the season with a torn ACL, Booker stepped up his play even more. Since Poythress has been out, Booker is averaging 14.8 points and has made 16 of 21 (76%!) threes in 24.4 minutes per game in five games. Kentucky is the clear No. 1 team in the country at 15-0, and their championship aspirations will have a lot to do with Booker and his shooting ability, more than originally anticipated.
5. Patricio Garino, George Washington, Junior, Wing, Argentina Native
2014-2015 stats: 13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.3 spg, 54 fg% in 31.8 mpg
Previous Rank: 5
Garino is finally healthy this season and has settled in a starting role for George Washington. Garino has been a key cog in George Washington’s 12-4 start, including six wins in a row and nine of their last 10. The Colonials have defeated high major opponents in Colorado, DePaul and Wichita State, thanks in large part to Garino’s play on both sides of the ball, particularly defensively. In a pleasant surprise, Garino leads his team in scoring, as well as steals and field goal percentage.
6. Angel Delgado, Seton Hall, Freshman, Power Forward, Dominican Republic Native
2014-2015 stats: 8.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.4 bpg, 63 fg% in 24.9 mpg
Previous Rank: Unranked
Seton Hall is off to a surprising 13-3 start and is a top-25 team, with Delgado playing a crucial role on the interior. Delgado leads Seton Hall in rebounds, blocked shots and field goal percentage. Delgado’s work on the glass has been especially impressive. The Dominican big man hauls in 19.7% of the available rebounds a player can grab while he’s on the court, good for 19th in the country. Delgado was long regarded as a stout rebounder during his high school days, and its translated to college basketball.
7. Daniel Bejarano, Colorado State, Redshirt Senior, Guard, Mexican
2014-2015 stats: 10.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.2 apg in 30.6 mpg
Previous Rank: 2
Bejarano’s biggest contribution to CSU this year has been his willingness to defer to his teammates and let them shine. Last year, Bejarano averaged 16.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game on a 16-16 team. With more depth on the roster this year, Bejarano’s numbers have gone down, but his team is 15-2 and are one win away from tying last year’s win total. He’s still a double-digit scorer and outstanding rebounder for a guard. And Bejarano is very versatile, he starts as the team’s point guard then moves to the wing.
8. Emmy Andujar, Manhattan, Senior, Power Forward, Puerto Rican
2014-2015 stats: 13.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.9 spg, 52 fg% in 30.2 mpg
Previous Rank: 7
When fellow Latino Michael Alvarado graduated from Manhattan this past offseason, Andujar knew he would have to step up to fill the guard’s void. He’s done that and so much more. Andujar leads Manhattan in points, rebounds, assists and steals as a 6-foot-6 point forward. Against high major opponents Florida State, Rutgers and Pittsburgh, Andujar averaged 16.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. While Manhattan is only 7-8 thus far, Andujar has done his part to lead his team to a 4-2 record in critical conference play. Andujar will go a long ways in sealing back-to-back NCAA Tournament bids for Manhattan.
9. Aaron Valdes, Hawai’i, Redshirt Sophomore, Wing, Cuban and Mexican
2014-2015 stats: 16.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.8 spg, 53 fg%, 41 3fg% in 30 mpg
Previous Rank: Unranked
Valdes has been a true revelation this season for Hawai’i, exploding onto the scene as a potent scorer. Last year as a freshman, Valdes garnered solid playing time for a first-year player, appearing in every game and averaging 3.2 points, 2.0 rebounds in 9.2 minutes per game. But Valdes has taken his play to another level this season, his first as a full-time starter. Valdes currently leads Hawai’i in points, rebounds, field goal percentage and free throws made. Valdes only reached double-figures in points three times last season, but he’s reached the double-digit scoring column 14 times in 18 games so far. Valdes has also had six games where he’s scored 20 or more points. Valdes has also upped his play during Conference play, averaging 27.0 points while shooting 62 percent from the field and 60 percent from three in two games.
10. Adrian Diaz, Florida International, Redshirt Junior, Center, Cuban
2014-2015 stats: 13.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.9 bpg, 67 fg% in 29.2 mpg
Like Angel Rodriguez, Diaz transferred from Kansas State in hopes of greener pastures. By moving down a level, Diaz has been awarded more playing time, and he’s taking advantage of the added minutes at FIU. In his two seasons at Kansas State, Diaz only compiled 144 points and reached double-figures scoring twice. He’s already surpassed 144 points in his first 12 games for FIU, and has scored 10 or more points eight times. Diaz leads FIU in rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage and is second on the team in scoring. While his struggles with foul trouble and consistency have been his only weakness this season, Diaz is thriving in Conference USA.
11. Adonys Henriquez, Central Florida, Freshman, Guard, Dominican
2014-2015 stats: 12.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg, 49 fg%, 44 3fg% in 34.4 mpg
This list has normally been limited to the top 10 Latinos in college basketball, but Henriquez made it quite easy to add an 11th member to the list. The true freshman has started every game for UCF, he leads the team in minutes played and is second on the team in scoring and 3-pointers made. Henriquez has proven to be a standout shooter from beyond the arc. He’s scored at least 10 or more points in 11 of 15 games, and has made at least two 3-pointers in ten games.
#6 Cezar Guerrero (ineligible, eligibility standards not met)
#8 Jon Horford
#9 Michael Perez
#10 Jose Rodriguez (out with knee injury)