Every successful basketball team must have a glue guy, whether it's in the SEC, the NBA or high school.
A glue guy is a player who makes his team click, doing things that don’t show up in box scores. That can come in a variety of ways. It could be impacting the game off the bench or providing veteran leadership. Whatever the glue guy provides, it helps fill in the cracks for his team.
Here are the five best glue guys in SEC basketball.
Charles Carmouche is a graduate transfer from Memphis who brings plenty of experience to the Tigers backcourt.
Carmouche is a good perimeter defender who can handle the ball well on the offensive end. He is fifth on the team in scoring (9.4 points per game), third in rebounds (4.1 per game), second in assists (3.5 per game) and second in steals (1.9 per game).
He has had some issues with LSU coach Johnny Jones, who benched Carmouche for the majority of the game against Tennessee, but Carmouche showed how valuable he is to the Tigers in Saturday’s triple-overtime win over Alabama. Carmouche played 54 of the possible 55 minutes, scoring 20 points to go along with 11 rebounds.
Coty Clarke is a junior college transfer who is in his first season at Arkansas. He was coming off the bench at the start of the season but has worked his way into the starting lineup the last eight games. Clarke brings a great deal of energy whenever he is in the game and does a little bit of everything for the Razorbacks.
He does a nice job on the boards, averaging 4.9 rebounds in just 18.6 minutes per game. Clarke is efficient on the offensive end, shooting 50.4 percent from the field while averaging 7.3 points per contest.
While the team suffered a 71-54 loss at Florida on Feb. 23, Clarke showed how much he brings to the table. He had 18 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, two assists and one steal, making all eight of his field-goal attempts.
There have been few bright spots in South Carolina’s season. The Gamecocks are 13-14 overall and just 3-11 in SEC play.
However, true freshman Michael Carrera is someone who can help South Carolina coach Frank Martin lay the foundation as he builds up the program down in Columbia. Carrera plays hard and competes the way Martin expects all of his players to compete.
How else could you explain the level at which Carrera rebounds considering he stands just 6’5”? He is averaging 7.3 rebounds despite averaging just 21.2 minutes per game.
Offensively, Carrera has definitely had his moments, such as the 23-point performance at LSU and back-to-back 18-point games against Kentucky and Tennessee. For the year, he is averaging 10.2 points per game while shooting 46.6 percent from the floor.
In his four seasons at South Carolina, Carrera has been setting the tone game in and game out with his toughness and energy.
If Kentucky ends up making the NCAA tournament, the Wildcats can thank Julius Mays, or as he is starting to be known, “Uncle Julius.”
Is he the most talented player on Kentucky’s roster? No, far from it. However, he might be the last player an opposing coach wants to see with the ball in his hands in a tight game down the stretch. Mays provides veteran leadership and a calm presence that is lacking on a roster full of inexperience.
That was on full display in Kentucky’s overtime win over Missouri Saturday. Mays played 44 minutes and scored 24 points in the Wildcats’ biggest win of the season to this point. In the last seven games, Mays has been in double figures six times.
If Florida is going to make a run at a national title, it needs to get Will Yeguete back in the lineup. Yeguete has missed the last five games after hurting his knee in the team’s loss at Arkansas on Feb. 5.
Yeguete comes off the bench and is sixth in playing time with 21.9 minutes per game, but he brings so much to the table for the Gators. He is a key component to Florida’s pressure defense and averages 1.1 steals per game. At 6’7”, 240 pounds, he is versatile enough to guard opponents on the perimeter as well as on the block.
He also brings a lot of energy, especially on the glass. Yeguete is second on the team with 6.3 rebounds per game.