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July 3, 2010

Fredette leads list of nation's most explosive

It's July 4, and fireworks are as much a staple of this day as hot dogs, the beach and beer.

In honor of those fireworks you're going to see tonight, here's a look at the 10 most explosive players in the nation heading into next season.

1. G Jimmer Fredette, BYU
: He considered turning pro but decided to stay in school for his senior season. Those fans who enjoy seeing a quick-trigger guard not afraid to fire it up from anywhere sure are glad he's back. Fredette was No. 7 in the nation in scoring at 22.1 points per game last season, when he shot 44.0 percent from 3-point range. He had eight 30-point games, including two games where he scored at least 40. His season-high was 49, against Arizona, a game in which he was 9-of-13 from beyond the arc. He also had 37 in a first-round NCAA tourney victory over Florida.

2. G/F Travis Leslie, Georgia
: Leslie isn't that big a scorer; he averaged 14.8 points and had just one 30-point outing on the season. But he is extremely gifted physically and can jump out of the gym, and once his basketball skills catch up to his athleticism, he truly will be scary. Leslie is a ferocious dunker and a big-time rebounder (6.8 per game) for a 6-foot-4 guy.

3. G Jeremy Hazell, Seton Hall
: Hazell is a gunner, plain and simple, who frequently plays out of control. But he also can score in bunches. He averaged 20.4 points for the Pirates, with seven 30-point games. His season-high was 41, against West Virginia; he followed that up with a 38-point outing three days later against Syracuse. Alas, those 79 points came on 64 shots from the field. He faded a bit down the stretch, with just one 20-point game in the Pirates' final 10 contests. Hazell still hasn't mastered shot selection, but, truthfully, that's part of his allure to the fans who like to see offense-minded players fire away.

4. G LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor
: Dunn was the Bears' leading scorer (19.6 points per game) and helped Baylor advance to the Elite Eight. He has an extremely quick trigger and great range. He shot 41.9 percent from 3-point range and had 20 games in which he hit at least four 3-pointers. He also had three 30-point games and another six games in which he scored at least 26. Baylor had three double-figure scorers last season, but Dunn is the only one returning, so his offensive output should increase.

5. G Donald Sims, Appalachian State
: Sims never met a 3-pointer he didn't think he could make. He took 499 shots last season, and 288 of them were from beyond the arc; he made 123 3-pointers and 105 2-pointers last season. Sims averaged 20.4 points, shot 42.7 percent from 3-point range and had four 30-point games, including a 44-point explosion against Davidson in which he was 13-of-19 from the field (5-of-7 from 3-point range) and 13-of-13 from the line.

6. G Adrian Oliver, San Jose State
: Oliver, who began his career at Washington, averaged 22.5 points for the Spartans last season, with eight 30-point games; his season-high was 39 against Louisiana Tech. He took more than twice as many shots as anybody else on the team (526, with the next-highest 261) and was in double-figures in shot attempts in all 31 SJSU games. He shot 40.8 percent from 3-point range and also averaged 5.3 rebounds.

7. G Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
: Pullen averaged 19.3 points for the Wildcats, who advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to eventual national runner-up Butler. He scored in double figures in all 37 of K-State's games and reached the 30-point mark twice, including a season-high 34 in an NCAA second-round victory over BYU. Pullen scored at least 25 points in 10 games while playing alongside high-scoring Denis Clemente, who was a senior. Pullen had eight games with at least five 3-pointers and shot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc.

8. G Randy Culpepper, UTEP
: Culpepper is jet-quick with the ball and can be a force on both ends of the court for the Miners. He averaged 17.9 points last season, when he had three 30-point games. In those three, though, he averaged 38.6 points and shot 67.9 percent from the field. His best game was a 45-point barrage against East Carolina in which he was 14-of-18 from the floor, including 9-of-12 from 3-point range. He sublimated his offense a bit with the insertion of Louisville transfer Derrick Caracter in the lineup. But with Caracter gone, expect more points from Culpepper this season.

9. G Charles Jenkins, Hofstra
: Jenkins' basketball hero is former Syracuse star Dwayne "Pearl" Washington, and like Washington, Jenkins can get to the basket with impunity. But Jenkins also has a nice outside shot and hit 40.9 percent of his 3-pointers last season, when he averaged 20.6 points. He had four 30-point games, with a high of 38 against Fairfield. He became more offensive-minded late in the season, and three of his 30-point games came Feb. 10 or later.

10. G/F Klay Thompson, Washington State
: Washington State was a disappointment last season, but you certainly can't blame the Cougars' mediocre play on Thompson. He averaged 19.6 points and had three 30-point games, including a high of 43 against San Diego. Thompson faded down the stretch, perhaps tired from having to do too much on offense. But he has a nice stroke and knows how to get to the foul line.

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