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The most important players in America – 2014-15

November 12, 2014 Columns No Comments

Every team has a player or two whose performance is a barometer for how the team does – as he goes, they go. It’s not necessarily their best player, although it can be; rather, it’s often someone either playing a key position or having to take over for a departed star at a position. In some cases, it’s a player who seems most likely to step into a larger role.

Certainly, the best players are important ones. If they fall short of what they have done in the past or are expected to do based on their past performance, other players must do more.

It’s not surprising that many on this list are point guards, given the importance of the position. We take a look at ten players whose performance is likely to have an outsize impact on their team’s success, or lack thereof, this season.

Kris Dunn, So. G, Providence     Yes, he made this list last year before getting hurt and having to redshirt. Still, he’s as important as anyone to this team’s success, not only in staying healthy but leading this team, especially with a lack of proven guards alongside him on the perimeter.

Kaleb Joseph, Fr. G, Syracuse     With Tyler Ennis off to the NBA and a lot of offensive production gone from last season’s team, Joseph will get the ball right away and will have to grow up fast as the floor leader.

T.J. McConnell, Sr. G, Arizona     There are plenty of weapons on this team, so like last year McConnell has to facilitate and lead the team on the floor.

Kennedy Meeks, So. F-C, North Carolina     Last season, Brice Johnson made a big leap from freshman to sophomore year. Now it’s Meeks’ turn if the Tar Heels want to be better than a team no one can figure out, as they were last year.

Rodney Purvis, So. G, Connecticut     The Huskies lost a lot from last season’s national championship team, so Purvis will have an even bigger role right away than it first looked like he would.

Joshua Smith, Sr. C, Georgetown     I’ve never thought he was as good as he was billed coming out of high school, but the Hoyas could use him as a post presence this season. They have enough perimeter talent as it is.

Brandon Taylor, Jr. G, Utah     Delon Wright is a star, and should be in the running for Pac-12 Player of the Year. But he needs help, and Taylor’s jump from freshman to sophomore year suggests he may have as much to do with whether or not this team reaches its ceiling as anyone else.

Romelo Trimble, Fr. G, Maryland     In their inaugural Big Ten campaign, the Terrapins at least have a star in Dez Wells. But they need Trimble to settle the point guard spot and make others better.

Tyler Ulis, Fr. G, Kentucky     As is the case with Joseph and Trimble, this is a lot to put on a freshman. But Ulis is tough and knows how to run a team, and should make this team better all along.

T.J. Williams, So. G, Northeastern     The Huskies return five starters from last season’s team, and Williams was one of the CAA’s best freshmen, especially down the stretch last year. He’s the floor leader for the team picked to win the CAA, so it’s his job to lead them to victories.

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