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January 17, 2007

Power rankings: Big wins mean big jumps

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Take a glimpse at the top of Rivals.com's College Basketball Power Rankings and it appears not much has changed since last week.

The top-ranked players at each position remained the same. In fact, so did the entire top five among point guards, power forwards and centers.

But, the biggest shake-ups didn't involve the players who were already ranked.

Four newcomers make their debuts, while two familiar veterans make a return.

The new additions include a pair of point guards - Virginia Tech's Jamon Gordon and Kansas' Sherron Collins - N.C. State power forward Ben McCauley and Providence center Herbert Hill.

Gonzaga shooting guard Derek Raivio and Oregon small forward Malik Hairston rejoined the rankings after brief departures.

Gordon played his most complete game of the season in the Hokies' shocking upset of then-No. 1 North Carolina last Saturday. He scored 17 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished out six assists and had five steals.

Collins has emerged as the Jayhawks' most valuable reserve. The freshman scored a season-high 23 points in an 80-77 win over Missouri. It was the third consecutive game in which the former five-star recruit scored in double figures.

McCauley might be the most deserving off the bunch. After averaging just six minutes a game last season, the sophomore has turned into the Wolfpack's best player. He's averaging 16.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists a game.

Hill has also made tremendous strides. The senior who never averaged more than nine points a game before this season has already broken the 20-point barrier six times - including in each of the Friars' first three Big East games.

Raivio has bounced back from his season-low four-point outing in a loss to Duke last month, averaging 19.8 points in the six games since.

Hairston finally looks healthy for the first time this season after battling a series of nagging injuries. The senior played a big role in the Ducks' 79-77 upset of Arizona. He scored 18 points, pulled down eight boards and passed out four assists.

Hairston's teammate, point guard Aaron Brooks, made the biggest jump of any player. Brooks climbed from No. 17 to No. 13 thanks to more clutch play. Brooks hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds against the Wildcats. He did the same in an upset of then-No. 1 UCLA two weeks ago.

Arron Afflalo's game-winning jumper in UCLA's 65-64 win over USC helped him move up to No. 3 in the shooting guard rankings.

Freshman phenom Kevin Durant continues to make a steady climb up the small forward rankings, moving up to the No. 2 slot behind Wisconsin's Alando Tucker. Durant has put together double-doubles in each of his last five games, including a 34-point, 13-rebound performance in an 88-68 rout of Missouri.

We will update the rankings weekly throughout the rest of the season. For our purposes, the power rankings will reflect those games played Tuesday through Monday.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week, but the power rankings measure their overall careers as well as their most recent performances.

By the end of the season, our power rankings should provide an accurate indicator of which players were the best at their respective positions.

Click here to check out the complete Rivals.com College Basketball Power Rankings.

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