BY STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Basketball Writer
Imagine John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins still on the court together at Kentucky, instead of being among the NBA’s best rookies. Or Xavier Henry playing another season for undefeated Kansas.
But in an era of one-and-done players in college basketball, they all came and then went quickly to the pros.
What about some of the first-year stars from last season who stayed for a second go-round in college? There are several now following up impressive debuts with equally or even better seasons.
Wall was drafted No. 1 overall after being the SEC player of the year as a freshman and Cousins, tabbed the league’s freshman of the year, was the fifth overall pick. Henry became the first Jayhawks player to go pro after only one season.
Among those who stayed are a pair of players named Williams starring on opposite sides of the country and a non-major still standing out among the big boys. There are no sophomore slumps in this group:
Derrick Williams, Arizona. The Pac-10 freshman of the year after averaging 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game last season, Williams took about 700 jumpers a day during the offseason with the goal of getting better. After all that shooting, the 6-foot-8 forward is now the nation’s most efficient player, averaging 2.29 points per field goal attempt. While being an explosive force inside, he also hits short and midrange jumpers — and even from long range. Williams hit 17 of 24 3-pointers (71 percent) in his first 18 games this season. He also led the nation by making 134 free throws. He already had five 20-point games, including a career-high 31 points with 10 rebounds last week against Arizona State, while averaging 19.7 points and 7.3 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State. The first Mountain West Conference freshman of the year to also be an all-MWC pick, Leonard is now averaging a double-double (team highs 15.7 points and 10.3 rebounds a game). With him, the Aztecs became the first team to reach 20 wins this season. The 6-foot-7 forward, who already has 13 double-doubles this season and 30 in his career, also leads the undefeated Aztecs with 29 steals and is second with 50 assists. In the Mountain West tournament championship game last season, Leonard scored 16 points and had a career-high 21 rebounds, setting a tournament record. He is leading the MWC in rebounding again after getting 9.9 a game last season.
Jordan Williams, Maryland. Double down, Mr. Williams. In Maryland’s two NCAA tournament games last March, Williams had an impressive introduction to the national stage with consecutive double-double games. This season, the 6-10 Williams has been Len Elmore-like. Williams went into Thursday night with 11 consecutive double-doubles, already the longest streak at Maryland in 16 years and one short of the school record Elmore set 37 years ago. He had 25 points and 14 rebounds against seventh-ranked Villanova last Saturday. After averaging 9.6 points and 8.6 rebounds as a freshman, Williams has bumped those totals to 18.1 points and 12.2 rebounds a game this season and is third nationally in rebounds.
C.J. McCollum, Lehigh. New season, same result for McCollum. The nation’s top freshman scorer last season (19.1 ppg) is now the top scoring sophomore (21.5 ppg). The 6-3 guard was the first Patriot League rookie of the year who also was the league’s player of the year at the same time. He capped his freshman season with 26 points against top-seeded Kansas in the NCAA tournament. This season, he also leads Lehigh with 7.2 rebounds a game and 46 steals, and has a four-game streak with at least 23 points in each. He has gone over 30 points three times, including a 42-point game.
Alec Burks, Colorado. After being somewhat of a hidden recruiting gem for the Buffalos, Burks was the Big 12’s top freshman last season, when he averaged 17.1 points and became the first Colorado freshman to lead the team in rebounding (5.0 a game). The 6-6 long-armed guard is now the league’s second-leading scorer at 19.8 points a game. After opening this season with five consecutive 20-point games, he now has 11. He had a career-high 36 points when Colorado won its first Big 12 opener in 14 years with an upset win over then-No. 9 Missouri. It was the Buffs’ last Big 12 opener — they move to the expanded Pac-12 next season.
Maalik Wayns, Villanova. The only thing that kept Wayns from playing much as a freshman was being a guard on a Final Four team that had a backcourt of Scottie Reynolds and Corey Fisher. With Reynolds gone, the 6-2 Wayns is now starting with Fisher and is flourishing. A quick burst and reliable floater has helped Wayns average 13.5 points and 5.3 assists a game for the Wildcats. In the Big East opener, he had nine points, nine assists and eight rebounds. He had another game with 21 points, eight assists and four steals. He was limited to 15 minutes a game as a freshman, when he still had 6.8 points and 1.3 assists a game.