4 Redshirt College Basketball Players Set to Explode This Season
The majority of college basketball's premiere players become starters straight out of high school, but occasionally—for one reason or another—they are redshirted and stored away for the future.
The 2012-13 season shall serve as a fine example of this, when several talented redshirt freshmen will finally make the transition from sideline spectators to meaningful, minute-eating contributors.
Let's look at four players who were redshirted in 2011 but will burst on the scene in a big way this season.
Ben McLemore, Kansas Jayhawks
Nick Krug - LJWorld.com
The Jayhawks' 6'5", 205-pound wing is the cream of the crop when it comes to college basketball's redshirt freshmen.
Kansas fought hard (per Gary Bedore of KU Sports) to have McLemore in action as a true freshman, but the NCAA ruled him to be only a partial qualifier academically, and therefore unable to participate in the 2011-12 season.
The youngster wowed spectators at a basketball camp this summer, and as former KU guard Brady Morningstar (per Sporting News) points out, McLemore's playing style carries a striking resemblance to that of former Jayhawks hero Brandon Rush.
McLemore is strong enough and long enough to drive to the rim and put on a show with awe-inspiring dunks, but he can score from the perimeter, too.
Kansas lost Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor to the NBA, but their starting center and two starting guards from last year's run to the National Championship are returning, and McLemore figures to plug in at small forward.
One man who projects a monstrous campaign for McLemore is CBS Sports' College Basketball Insider Jeff Goodman. Goodman believes the redshirt freshman can become a star in 2012-13, even projecting the Jayhawk as a No. 5 pick in his 2013 NBA Mock Draft.
That may be stretching it, but truth be told, this kid simply has too much talent to ignore the possibility.
Trevor Cooney, Syracuse Orange
Dennis Nett - The Post Standard
The Orange's insanely deep roster a year ago forced Cooney into a redshirt year, but it certainly wasn't for a lack of talent.
The 6'4" Wilmington, Delaware native has an electrifying stroke, and should quickly become recognized as one of the top shooters in the country. He's itching to get on the court in game action, and with former Syracuse guards Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine gone, he should have every opportunity to break out.
Senior guard Brandon Triche will return, and sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams figures to get some solid playing time as well. But Cooney will get his minutes, and you shouldn't be shocked if he's starting by season's end.
Syracuse assistant coach Gerry McNamara (per The Post-Standard) commented all the way back in January on how much Cooney had been improving, from a physical standpoint.
You can tell he’s changed his body, but he’s also gained speed. His body hasn’t broken down at all. His body has been so receptive to the weights. It’s pretty impressive.
Head coach Jim Boeheim has been impressed, too.
He’s worked as hard as anybody we’ve ever redshirted. He’s probably benefited more than anybody else we’ve ever had.’
Cooney has an amazing work ethic and all signs seem to point toward a giant year for the Orange's sharp-shooting redshirt freshman.
Alex Murphy, Duke Blue Devils
Murphy was rated No. 41 in ESPNU's Top 100 in 2011, and was headed toward making an impact in Duke's rotation as a true freshman before a head injury set him back.
At 6'8", Murphy is a tall forward who can surprisingly pass extremely well and shows some serious range with his shot, too. He's versatile enough to play both forward positions, and could become a major asset for the Blue Devils in 2012-13.
Duke is loaded with talent at the forward position, with or without Murphy. Seniors Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly are returning, and each average over 11 points per game a year ago.
But the Blue Devils ran short on big men in 2011, and Murphy is a lanky option who can also stretch opposing defenses with his ability to get up and down the court so fluently.
Plumlee's brother, Marshall, is also a redshirt freshman for Duke who could make an impact, but it's Murphy who will emerge as star in the upcoming season.
George Marshall, Wisconsin Badgers
Courtesy of Wisconsin Athletics
Folks in Madison have been treated to some stellar play from the point guard position in recent years.
All-American Jordan Taylor graduated this year, and Wisconsin will now place the keys to the offense in George Marshall's hands.
Let's just say Taylor feels confident in passing the torch to the redshirt freshman.
"You probably won't even remember I was here by the time George gets done," Taylor said in March, per Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin. "Or maybe even Devin (Harris), too."
The 5'11", 175-pounder is quick, capable of scoring consistently and excellent at setting up his teammates on the attack. He fits the description of what head coach Bo Ryan looks for in a point guard, and displays many of the qualities that made Taylor so successful during his time as a Badger.
Marshall may not have the natural athleticism of the other redshirts we've covered, but he looks like a great fit in Wisconsin's system and will be presented with a golden opportunity to shine.
An opportunity I fully expect him to capitalize on.