When watching the Memphis Tigers basketball team play this season, you can’t help but notice the pearly whites of sophomore forward Shaq Goodwin. Seemingly on every play down the court and in every situation, tense or not, he seems to be sporting a big smile. He is essentially the polar opposite of Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins. So far this season, the 6-foot-9 Atlanta, Georgia native Goodwin has reason to flash a smile as much as he wants.
A high school McDonald’s All-American, Goodwin has seen playing time ever since he arrived at Memphis. During the 2012-13 year, his freshman season, he started 33 of the team’s 36 games and averaged 7.4 points to go with 4.4 rebounds in 20.7 minutes. Goodwin shot 46.6 percent from the field, which was very impressive for a freshman.
This season, he has already shown signs of rapid growth. Now averaging 26.5 minutes a game, Goodwin has an expanded role in the team’s offensive attack. His scoring average is up to 11.8 points per game, and he is pulling down 6.2 rebounds per contest. His biggest leap has come in terms of field goal percentage, where he is currently shooting 63.4 percent from the field.
In Memphis’ last contest in which they defeated No. 5 Oklahoma State, Goodwin was arguably the player of the game for the Tigers after putting up 17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. He played nearly the entire game, and showed up to deliver 39 minutes of solid play on both ends of the floor. For his efforts, he was named the Old Spice Classic MVP.
Most importantly, Goodwin gives Memphis a positive personality on and off the court and is clearly the emotional leader of the team. Lets see if Goodwin and Memphis can rattle off some more wins before conference play begins. If the team improves to a solid 10-1 before then, I expect an extra-big smile from the Memphis big man.