2014 NCAA Tournament: 5 Players Who Can Single-Handedly Carry Their Teams To Long Tournament Runs
5 Players Who Can Single-Handedly Carry Their Teams
In college basketball, individual achievement normally takes a backseat to team success. With five players on the court all the time, each player must sacrifice individual glory for the common good of the team, and all must work together on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball in order to achieve the ultimate prize, which is the National Championship. However, in a few cases, just one single player can lift an entire team to a deep postseason run in the NCAA tournament.
In 2011, Connecticut guard Kemba Walker had a tournament for the ages, carrying the Huskies from the Bubble Watch to a National Championship. In 1988, Danny Manning carried the Kansas Jayhawks to another improbable National Championship, and finally, in 2003, Carmelo Anthony capped off his only college season at Syracuse by lifting the Orange to the only National Championship in their program's history.
This year's tournament will be no different. Many great players will be asked to step it up for their respective teams in the tournament, and on their backs, they will either carry their team to glory or major disappointment. While it would be easy to pick the likes of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins or Aaron Gordon, each of these three players belong on teams that have other talented big-time players around them, so they won't necessarily have to carry the load.
Instead, here are five players who can single-handedly carry their teams to tournament success without other talent around them. While none of these players have the star power of Parker, Wiggins or Gordon, all of them have been crucial factors for their teams this season, and without them, they wouldn't be where they are now.
5. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
On one of the top teams in America, Cincinnati guard Sean Kilpatrick is the only consistent scoring option for a team that at times struggles to put the ball in the basket. If the Bearcats want to be legitimate contenders in the tournament, Kilpatrick will have to single-handedly carry the Bearcats on his back and look to score every time he touches the ball.
4. Nik Stauskas, Michigan
While Michigan lost guys like Trey Burke to the NBA and Mitch McGary to injury this season, the Wolverines have not fallen off, thanks to the play of Nik Stauskas. The Wolverines' top offensive threat, Stauskas has the ability to score at will, and with him, the Wolverines can beat any team in this year's tournament.
3. Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Guard Shabazz Napier has put together a remarkable season that makes most fans reminisce back to Walker and his 2011 season. The guard leads the Huskies in every meaningful category, like points, rebounds and assists. For the Huskies to pull a repeat of 2011, Napier will have to carry the Huskies on his back in a role similar to Walker's in 2011.
2. Aaron Craft, Ohio State
The best all-around point guard in college basketball this season, Ohio State's Aaron Craft will not light up the scoreboards or the box scores, but he does everything for the Buckeyes. When Craft has to guard the opposing team's best perimeter player, he shuts them down, and when he has to get timely baskets, he can. Craft's leadership and clutch play will single-handedly carry the Buckeyes to another deep postseason run.
1. Doug McDermott, Creighton
The unquestioned player of the year in college basketball this season, Creighton's Doug McDermott can score in many different ways and lift the Blue Jays to a deep run. McDermott can score 30 on any given team, and as long as he is on the court, Creighton will have a chance to win in every game they play in this year's tournament.