Top defenders in college hoops

Updated: November 8, 2011, 3:44 PM ET
By Fran Fraschilla

They are the pests, the stoppers, the gamblers, the glass eaters and the rim protectors. Here are my top defensive players for the 2011-12 season in college basketball.

The Pests

Jorge Gutierrez, California

My defensive pests aren't usually 6-foot-4, but Gutierrez is an unusual player. Even if he didn't score a point for coach Mike Montgomery, he would still impact games because he is all over place in the Golden Bears' half-court defense. His hustle, high-voltage energy and defensive IQ stand out -- especially versus Pac-12 opponents.

Aaron Craft, Ohio State

Craft has an amazing ability to stay in front of seemingly quicker point guards and harass them to a point where they are far more worried about losing the ball than running their team's offense. While he's got quick feet, a key part of Craft's ability to disrupt opponents are those ultra-quick hands. Add in his high school football player's strength and toughness, and you have a player that other Big Ten teams already love to hate.

Casper Ware, Long Beach State

Ware is one of the best points guards in the country. Period. At 5-foot-10, he has excellent quickness and great court vision, and he is an improved shooter who is an extension of coach Dan Monson on the court. But it's at the defensive end of the floor where I have fallen in love with his game. He rarely takes a play off on that end of the court, and that type of energy from your on-court leader is rare. It makes Monson a very lucky man.