Yesterday CBS Sports released their top 100 (and one) best college basketball players for 2017-18 list. The list was complied after reviewing over 4,500 players across the country in order to determine which players are the best of the best within the context of college basketball, NBA draft potential aside.
Last year, two players from UNC made it onto the list. Joel Berry II was the No. 42 player on the list, while current Sacramento Kings player Justin Jackson came in at No. 35. Jackson finished his college career the year as the ACC Player of the Year and was an Associated Press first team All-American. He was also an integral part of the Tar Heels’ back-to-back trips to the Final Four and winning the 2017 NCAA National Championship.
This year, the two players to make CBS’s list from UNC are none other than seniors Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson. Both Berry and Pinson initially made the decision to announce they were going to declare for the NBA Draft before reconsidering and deciding to finish out their four years on campus.
Joel Berry II entered the top 100 list as the 12th best player in the country. Berry finished his junior year averaging 14.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game with a .426% field goal percentage and shot .383% from three-point range. Joel Berry was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player, and was named to this year’s Bob Cousy Award watch list.
As many know, Joel Berry is currently out with a hand injury after punching a door following a loss to Theo Pinson playing NBA 2K. During an interview with Jones Angell and Adam Lucus on the Carolina Insider Podcast, Berry opened up about the injury and discussed how he is attempting to turn the situation into a positive:
"I want to find a way every day to better myself on and off the court. One thing I needed to work on was my left hand. Now I can only use my left hand even for daily stuff like putting in my contacts and brushing my teeth. I never realized how weak it was. I've been working on it for a week and a half and I can already tell I have more control of my left hand."
Theo Pinson entered the top 100 list as the No. 82 best player in the country. Pinson has been plagued with injuries throughout his tenure at UNC, but when healthy he has been UNC’s best defender and one of the best passers on the team. If Pinson managed to improve his shooting during the offseason, Pinson could prove to be one of the most dangerous four-way players in the ACC, if not the country.
Perhaps the most interesting ranking between the two players is where Joel Berry landed. It is easy for those outside of the UNC bubble to forget that Berry played hurt for a good amount of games last year after suffering multiple ankle injuries. Berry also spent the offseason working extremely hard in the gym, and looks like he is in the best shape that he has been in since arriving in Chapel Hill. The argument can be made that he at least deserves to have cracked the top ten on the list, and it will be interesting to see if he can make his case when he returns to the court.