The point guard's importance in college basketball is equivalent to the quarterback position in college football. If you have a good one with a decent supporting cast, you've probably got a pretty good team. If you have a great one, you have a real chance to be a contender. And if your point guard is a stiff, well, you might be sitting at home in March.
While every team has a point guard, there are really only a handful in the sport that are true difference-makers -- the ones who have the vision, the shooting, the IQ to be a bona fide floor general. Truly elite point guards are also the ones who can turn a game around, who can lead a comeback and who can make his teammates around him better than they are.
With 353 Division I teams and even more point guards, here's the short list who fit that billing of the 10 best point guards in college basketball.
1. Cassius Winston, Michigan State
2018-19 stats: 18.8 PPG, 7.5 APG, 39.8 3p%
Not only the best point guard in college basketball, but the frontrunner to be the best player -- regardless of position -- in college basketball. Cassius Winston has an impact on both sides of the floor for the (likely) preseason No. 1 Spartans, with an efficiency that shouts I'm a seasoned veteran. And after leading them to the Final Four despite injuries throughout the season, he's rightfully carrying expectations into this season to take his team even further.
2. Devon Dotson, Kansas
2018-19 stats: 12.3 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.4 SPG
My preseason pick for preseason Big 12 Player of the Year. Kansas is loaded this season with Udoka Azubuike's return, Silvio De Sousa's NCAA clearance and Ochai Agbaji stepping into a bigger role. Devon Dotson's the glue that's going to bring this unit together. If he continues to make strides we saw at the end of his freshman last season -- which carried over into a really impressive showing in the summer at the draft combine -- he'll be a lock to be top-3 at his position nationally.
3. Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State
2018-19 stats: 6.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, 43.4 3p%
The best assist/turnover ratio last season among all underclassmen point guards (freshmen, sophomores or juniors) didn't belong to Ja Morant, Cassius Winston, Tre Jones or even Coby White. It belonged to Iowa State freshman Tyrese Haliburton. He finished No. 2 in the category overall behind senior Jalen Avery with 125 assists and only 28 turnovers in 35 games. An eye-popping stat, to be sure. And when you couple that with his 43.4% accuracy from the 3-point line, it speaks volumes about his efficiency. With ISU losing four of its top five scorers from last year's roster, he'll be called upon to amp up that volume, making him a surefire bet to break out as a sophomore.
4. Tre Jones, Duke
2018-19 stats: 9.4 PPG, 5.3 APG, 1.9 SPG
When you think Tre Jones, think throwback -- the type of hounding, old-school point guard who promises to make the opponent's night miserable on both ends of the floor. While he's still improving as a scorer, his importance as an on-ball defender and reliable ball-handler can't be overstated -- especially for a Duke team that is replacing Zion Williamson, Cameron Reddish and RJ Barrett.
5. Markus Howard, Marquette
2018-19 stats: 25.0 PPG, 3.9 APG, 40.3 3p%
Only two returning college players (Antoine Davis and Jermaine Marrow) scored more points per game than Markus Howard last season. Pretty good for an under-6-foot guard, huh? The Golden Eagles got golden-gutted this offseason, too, so with the Hauser brothers gone, he may put up some even more jaw-dropping numbers as a senior simply out of necessity. As a viewer, we'll all benefit from that.
6. Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
2018-19 stats: 13.8 PPG, 3.3 APG, 16.9 PER
With a blue-chip resume (a former five-star recruit) and a stellar freshman season (13.8 PPG; Big Ten All-Freshman team), Ayo Dosunmu couldn've selected somewhere inside the top 40 of the NBA Draft. But he didn't even declare. And now, as a sophomore, he leads the Illini as they surge into the season with all sorts of buzz. Brad Underwood's got a track record of centering his offensive system around elite guards -- (see: Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State) -- and now he's got the talent in place to make magic again with Dosunmu.
7. Cole Anthony, North Carolina
2018-19 stats: N/A
North Carolina point guards are kind of like Kansas City Chiefs running backs: it doesn't exactly matter who it is, whoever has a hold on the job is going to put up big stats. This season at UNC it's another freshman. After freshman Coby White rode his strong season to the NBA's Draft Lottery this summer, Cole Anthony, the No. 1 player in our first prospect rankings for the 2020 NBA Draft, should follow in his footsteps. Anthony's an athletic freak with bounce, and with scoring prowess to boot, he has the goods to commandeer one of college basketball's best offenses in 2019-20.
8. Nico Mannion, Arizona
2018-19 stats: N/A
Arizona native Nico Mannion is on track to take the University of Arizona by storm. After the Wildcats lost returning point guard Brandon Williams earlier this summer, it officially opened up the opportunity for the freshman to take the keys to the offense unincumbered. Trust me when I tell you Mannion will be the point guard who is the most fun to watch in college basketball this season.
9. Andrew Nembhard, Florida
2018-19 stats: 8.0 PPG, 5.4 APG, 1.2 SPG
As a freshman on a team filled with upperclassmen guards, Andrew Nembhard still managed to put up respectable numbers, eventually taking over the majority of the point guard duties by season's end. As a sophomore, he's the key cog for a top-10 Florida team flush with talent. In a bigger role, he should be one of the best guards in the SEC this season.
10. Antoine Davis, Detroit
2018-19 stats: 26.1 PPG, 38.0 3p%
Antoine Davis led all freshman in scoring last season, and his 26.1 points per game ranked third in the country. The downside is Detroit won just 11 games while he enjoyed an otherwordly usage rate. If he can grow as a distributor and lead the Titans to a winning season in 2019, he'll climb this list substantially.
Jalen Pickett, Siena; Xavier Johnson, Pittsburgh; Zavier Simpson, Michigan; Ashton Hagans, Kentucky; Kira Lewis, Alabama; McKinley Wright, Colorado; LaQuincy Rideau, South Florida; Jermaine Marrow, Hampton; Ryan Woolridge, Gonzaga; Payton Pritchard, Oregon; Kihei Clark, Virginia; Remy Martin, Arizona State; Anthony Cowan Jr., Maryland; D'Mitrik Trice, Wisconsin; Kai Toews, UNC Wilmington; James Akinjo, Georgetown; Lamonte Turner, Tennessee