Chart toppers: Top area products in Division I men's basketball, courtesy Marcus Jackson
Verdell Jones III, Indiana
A mainstay in the Hoosiers' starting lineup since arriving in Bloomington, the former two-time News-Gazette Area Player of the Year from Champaign Central has been at the forefront of Indiana's rebuilding. He ranks 33rd in program history with more than 1,200 career points and led the Hoosiers in scoring (14.9 ppg) as a sophomore, when he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. For his career, the senior has averaged 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists, starting 98 of 105 games played. Jones is averaging 8.1 points this season for the 11th-ranked Hoosiers (15-3).
Rayvonte Rice, Drake
The former News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year from Centennial has been the Bulldogs' top player in his two seasons in Des Moines. The 6-foot-4 guard was named to the Missouri Valley Conference's All-Freshman team last year after leading the Bulldogs in scoring (13.8), rebounding (4.8) and steals (1.4) while setting the program's freshman scoring record with 428 points. Was also an honorable mention all-conference pick and a member of the league's all-newcomer team. Rice, who was a member of Centennial's 2009 state title and 2010 fourth-place team, again is leading the team in scoring (17.3) and rebounding (5.1) this season for the Bulldogs (11-7).
James Kinney, San Jose State
San Jose State is the third stop in the career of the former Centennial All-Stater after he played his freshman year at Ohio and his sophomore season at College of Eastern Utah. In his first season with the Spartans (6-11), the 6-foot-2 guard leads the team in scoring (16.4 ppg), three-pointers made (50) and three-point accuracy (43 percent) and is second in rebounding (3.6). Scored a career-high 31 points in a win against Seattle earlier this season. Kinney, who led Centennial to the Class 3A state title as a senior in 2009, started three times in 19 games for Ohio as a freshman and averaged 9.7 points, including 25 against Robert Morris. Reached double figures in scoring nine times for the Bobcats.
Josh Piper, Eastern Illinois
The 2011 Centennial graduate has made an impact with the Panthers during his first season in Charleston. The 6-foot-8 forward has seen action in all 16 games off the bench this season for Mike Miller's Panthers (9-7). Piper leads all Eastern Illinois non-starters in scoring at 5.5 points per game to go along with 3.1 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per game. Leads the regulars in field goal percentage (56.5 percent) on 35-of-62 shooting and free throw percentage (89.5 percent). Piper has scored in double figures four times, including a career-high 17 against Oakland City.
Jeff Johnson, Eastern Kentucky
Rice's classmate at Centennial has been a consistent contributor during his two seasons with the Colonels. The 6-foot-7 forward has come off the bench in all 19 games this season for Eastern Kentucky (10-9). Johnson is averaging 4.1 points and is second on the team in rebounding (3.7). Had a season-high 13 points in a win against Winthrop in November. Johnson started in 24 of the 30 games he played as a freshman for the Colonels and averaged 5.4 points, including a career-high 16 against Eastern Illinois, and was second on the team in rebounding (3.4).