The importance of impact seniors in NCAA basketball
Often, seniors are thought of as lesser-talents because they didn’t make a quick jump to the NBA ranks, but the past few years have shown many 4-year college players make a major impact as rookies and 2nd year NBA players. These 4 players listed below may or may not make an impact at the NBA level, but their staying in school for their senior year is extremely important to their teams’ chances come March.
Doug McDermott – One of the top scorers in the country, McDermott is extremely skilled and versatile. He has the ability to score on the perimeter and in the post, and while not extremely athletic, he is a strong rebounder and passer. With Creighton’s move to the Big East this season, McDermott’s return gives the Bluejays instant star-power in their new league, plus a veteran leader to help navigate the many changes.
Russ Smith – One of the most divisive talents in college basketball, Smith will be counted on to lead the Cardinals in their quest for back-to-back National Championships. His game may not be pretty at times, but Smith is a talented defender and one of the best at turning turnovers into quick points. With the loss of Peyton Siva’s leadership abilities, Smith will need to take an even bigger role until junior college transfer Chris Jones shows that he can replace Siva in this area. Also, with the loss of Gorgui Dieng’s rim protection, and no real replacement, Smith’s ability to pressure the ball on the perimeter becomes even more vital to the Cardinals’ chance this season.
Aaron Craft – Craft wasn’t a likely early-entry candidate, but his return to Columbus for his senior year is still very important. Ohio State’s offense relies on getting into the offense quickly and making smart decisions, and over the past 3 seasons, Craft has shown just how good he can be doing this. On top of that, he may be the best on-ball defender in the country, and he has a great understanding of the game overall. The loss of leading scorer Deshaun Thomas is going to be tough, and Craft may have to find ways to add to his scoring production, but the team still needs to rely on him to get his teammates great looks.
CJ Wilcox – It’s been a few years since Washington has made the NCAA Tournament, but the team has a good mix of young and veteran talent this season, but their chances of making the NCAA Tournament this season comes down to Wilcox continuing to build on the past few seasons. A versatile scorer, Wilcox has not been very efficient, but the addition of freshman point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, may be able to get Wilcox better looks than he had last season. If Wilcox both improves and becomes more efficient, he may not only be one of the top scorers in the country, but Washington may surprise some people on the national level.
Read here for returning sophomores.
Read here for returning juniors.