College Basketball: Watch These 4 Teams with Something-to-Prove Seniors
Having seniors on your college basketball team is almost always a good thing.
They're (hopefully) a little older and wiser than when they came into the program and they usually have some form of unfinished business.
Maybe they've been waiting their turn behind some other star player.
Possibly, they've been injured and not been able to perform at their full capability.
Or, they just haven't put it all together yet and have one last shot to demonstrate that they are as good as people expected them to be when they arrived on campus.
Here are four teams to watch in 2012-13. Each of them has more than one senior with something to prove.
Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls have been through a lot in their IU basketball careers.
Their first two seasons, the Hoosiers were doing their best to get one of the most legendary college hoops programs back to a place of respectability.
But unfortunately, IU went 22-41 in their freshman and sophomore years in Bloomington.
The Hoosiers pulled off a 27-9 record last year, advancing to the Sweet 16 before losing to Kentucky—the eventual 2012 NCAA champs.
Going into the 2012-13 season, Indiana is at or near the top of just about every preseason college basketball poll.
Watford (12.6 ppg) and Hulls (11.7 ppg) still have some unfinished business.
Rather than being satisfied with a single season of success, the senior sharpshooters no doubt have their sights set on making it to the Final Four and bringing back the school's sixth NCAA title.
The Missouri Tigers were supposed to make a deep run in last year's NCAA tournament. They were one of the highest scoring teams (over 80 points per game) in the country. The Tigers entered March Madness with 30 wins already under their belts.
But, then the wheels fell off against 15th-seeded Norfolk State.
Missouri was the third team (along with Utah State in 2009 and 2011, and Belmont in 2011) to lose in the Round of 64 after entering the tournament with 30-plus wins.
So, Missouri has something to prove this season.
But, second-year coach Frank Haith has a collection of senior players who want to change things up in 2012-13.
Michael Dixon, Jr. has been an excellent sixth man for Mizzou. In fact, he was the Big 12 Sixth Man Award selection last season. As much as that was a nice honor, I'm sure that Dixon would like to shine as a starter, not just remain as someone coming off of the bench.
Laurence Bowers was supposed to be a main part of the Tigers frontcourt last season. Unfortunately, he tore his left-knee ACL in early season workouts and was out for the entire year.
Haith has collected a number of transfers for this year's Tiger team, two of which are in their final season of collegiate eligibility.
Alex Oriakhi transferred from UConn after the Huskies were banned from the 2012-13 postseason. Oriakhi played a significant role on the 2011 championship team, but struggled to find his place last season after big-time recruit Andre Drummond arrived.
Keion Bell had three outstanding years at Pepperdine, scoring over 1,300 points (16.4 ppg) for the Waves. But, Bell's junior year ended abruptly because of an injury and a season-ending suspension.
After sitting out last year, the 6'4" 2-guard from L.A. should be ready to tear it up for the Tigers.
Solomon Hill and Kevin Parrom (pictured) were in Sean Miller's first recruiting class when he came to Tucson in the spring of 2009.
They have both worked hard to establish themselves as main contributors to the resurgence of the Arizona basketball program.
Hill has started 91 of 101 games in his first three seasons. Last year was a breakthrough season for the 6'7", 225-pound forward. He averaged 12.9 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, as he had to operate mostly from the PF position.
For his consistent play during his junior season, Hill was a 2012 All-Pac-12 first-team selection. But, with the arrival of a stellar recruiting class that features three outstanding frontcourt players, Hill will move back to his natural SF position.
Kevin Parrom should be the poster child for grit, resolve and determination.
He has fought through numerous hardships (injuries, death of family members and personally being shot) in his three years at Arizona.
Parrom's toughness and versatility are a huge benefit to the Wildcats. The 6'6", 215-pound wing is looking to put it all together in one full and fantastic final season.
Lastly, when Mark Lyons decided to transfer to Arizona from Xavier, he did so with the intention of demonstrating to the college basketball world and to NBA scouts that he was more than a good scoring (1,194 points in three years), but under-sized SG.
Lyons, who was recruited by Miller at XU, will bring tenacity and drive to the U of A roster.
If he can fully transition to being a consistent floor general for the Wildcats, the sky is the limit for this talented troupe from Tucson.
Duke Blue Devils
Coach K has a talented trio of seniors on his 2012-13 squad
Seth Curry, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly create a very capable core from which an exciting season in Durham could be built.
Curry began his collegiate career at Liberty University where he was the highest scoring freshman (20.2 ppg) in the nation.
After sitting out a season following his transfer to Duke, Curry has established himself as a lethal weapon on the wing in terms of long-distance shooting and consistent scoring.
But, the Cameron Crazies are hoping that the 6'2" guard from Charlotte finally takes after his older brother, Stephen, who lit up his opponents for three years at Davidson at a 25-ppg clip.
Mason Plumlee is a hard-working interior player who came up short of averaging a double-double (11.1 ppg, 9.2 rpg) last year as a junior.
There's no reason that the 6'11", 240-pound senior can't be one of the best low-post players in the nation if he finds a way to stay in games on both ends of the court.
By the way: Is this an amazing picture of what kind of hops MP2 has or what? Wow!
Ryan Kelly is one of the best beyond-the-arc shooters among PFs in college hoops.
When he is on, you can forget about it.
While Coach K probably doesn't plan to move Kelly to the block in the upcoming season, I'm sure that he would love for the 6'11" stretch-4 to take better advantage of his size and free-throw shooting ability (80.7 percent in 2011-12).
If everything clicks with these three, Duke will be a tough team with which to match up this season.