The replacements

26 Oct

Seth Curry is one of the top replacement players in college basketball in the 2011-2012 season. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

Basketball is all about an opportunity. When one player leaves for the NBA Draft or graduates from school or transfers to another program, the chance for another player arises.

Who are this year’s replacement stars? The options are plenty.

Shabazz Napier for Kemba Walker: We saw this emergence happen last year in Big East play and into the NCAA tournament. Walker was one of the top three players in college basketball and had to be the primary scorer for the National Championship Huskies. Napier emerged as the confident freshman point guard that looked like a star in waiting. His sophomore year is a prove it season.

Lorenzo Brown for Ryan Harrow: When Brown started his freshman season last year, he probably didn’t anticipate where he’d be a year from then. Brown will now take over the point guard position from Harrow, who left the school via transfer to Kentucky. Brown is a talented, but at times raw, player. He’s played the point before so there isn’t big reason for alarm. In year one of the Mark Gottfried era, Brown’s play is a huge domino in the future of the N.C. State program.

Marquis Teague for Brandon Knight: First there was Tyreke than there was Rose. First there was Wall than there was Knight. Now there is Teague. The cycle of point guards under the watch of John Calipari has been something of legend over the last five years. Getting studs to replace studs is a difficult task but getting game-changers to replace game-changers is even more difficult. Is Teague the game-changer that Knight, or the other Cal point guards were? You could argue that he isn’t. Then again, you could argue that it is a no-brainer that the ultra-quick and ultra-athletic point guard from Indy will step right in. His résumé is fantastic but Teague’s replacement role will certainly be tested and watched more than most.

Abdul Gaddy for Isaiah Thomas: Gaddy was thought more of coming out of high school than Thomas. Yet Thomas finished his career at Washington as one of the best in school history. Injuries have plagued Gaddy’s career and depth has slowed his opportunity. The Huskies will take on a new demeanor without Thomas on the team and Gaddy is the polar opposite. He’s calm, collected and a pass-first player. In truth, that’s the key to this upcoming Washington club. The calmer, the better.

Seth Curry for Kyrie Irving: In theory, Irving should fall under the irreplaceable category. But Duke lived without Irving well to fairly well last year. Curry has shined in the pre-season for the Blue Devils. He was the steadying force during the China trip. There needs to be some experienced leadership in the Duke backcourt. Historically, there always is.

Thomas Robinson for the Morrii twins: With Marcus and Markieff now waiting for the NBA to start (or not), there is an immediate need for frontcourt help In Lawrence. Robinson waited his turn and many believe he’ll not only succeed but the D.C. native will be one of the best players in America. Hey, no pressure.

Brandon Wood for the Michigan State backcourt: The Valparasio transfer will be asked to do a lot in his only year as a Spartan.  You know, like run a backcourt for one of the best programs in the country. Wood posted good numbers last year at Valpo (16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.7 steals a game). His role may be the most important of any newcomer in the Big Ten this season.

Bernard James for Chris Singleton: The Seminoles have been one of the best defensive teams in the ACC and the country for quite some time. Plugging someone into the role that Singleton played so well will be tough but they get it in James. The former Air Force staff sergeant will get his shot at manning the middle for FSU. He’s a fine shot-blocker (2.4 swats in 21 minutes a game). Replacing the near 14 points and seven rebounds is an achievable task for James (6-10, 240), too.

Nurideen Lindsey for Dwight Hardy: Remember last year’s fun St. John’s team? Yeah, well, they are gone. Almost all of them. This is a brand new team with brand new roles. Hardy was the go-to guy in the clutch (see: post-season). With so many young players on board, there needs to be a calm pilot. Lindsey is that guy. He’s in position to guide a young team to the post-season. Lindsey is a totally different player than Hardy but their roles are quite similar.

Mike Bruesewitz for Jon Leuer: When you talk about Wisconsin basketball, you immediately think of Jordan Taylor. And you should. He’s amazing. But have you considered how the Badgers are going to replace the long, lanky and three-point shooting forward that Leuer was? Hard to do that. Enter the big red mop. Bruesewitz showed that he can step out and knock down the three-ball. What Bruesewitz can do that Leuer didn’t do is mix it up underneath if needs be.

Hugh Greenwood for Dairese Gary: All eyes were on the Mountain West last year thanks to BYU and San Diego State. The Jimmer is gone and the Aztecs are reloading. Now it is New Mexico’s turn but the Lobos have to do it without their tough guy. Gary is gone and he was a Steve Alford guy from day one of the New Mexico-Alford era. Now it is Greenwood’s turn. The Aussie is just a freshman but he’s generated a lot of buzz after dropping 25 points on the U.S. in FIBA play this summer. The Lobos need a go-to backcourt scorer and he’s the guy. College basketball has been blessed with quality Aussies for the last decade. Greenwood could be next.

Solomon Hill for Derrick Williams: How do you really replace Williams? You don’t. You can’t replace his big-game shots or his big game blocks. His versatility is hard to match. Williams is one of the few un-replacement players from last year. But Arizona needs to find a replacement in terms of leadership, glue and on-the-court versatility. With such a young team in Tucson, Hill (who isn’t a big scorer) can be the guy that plays a similar role that Williams played when it came to get things done.

Marquise Carter for Steven Gray: Carter came alive in the late part of the 2010-2011 season, particularly in the NCAA tournament. In fact, over the last nine games of the year he doubled his scoring from 6.2 a game to nearly 13 points a contest and became a better facilitator of the offense. With Gray now gone and still question marks at the point guard position, Carter could be that guy that keeps the Zags in the national picture.

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2 Responses to “The replacements”

  1. Bobby Bancroft (@BobbyBancroft) October 26, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Hollis Thompson for Austin Freeman…

    • Justin Young October 27, 2011 at 4:31 am #

      I had his name down and then deleted it for some odd reason. Really, I did.

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