Who Will Be the Memphis Tigers' Starting Point Guard?
With five-star Alabama high school point guard Eric Bledsoe choosing Kentucky over Memphis on Wednesday, what happens now with the possible candidates for the Tigers' starting point guard position?
There are a number of different options from the JUCO ranks, but there is still a strong possibility that the Tigers stay with their current possible starters, Willie Kemp and Wesley Witherspoon.
Kemp was the Tigers' starter as a freshman when the Tigers made the Elite Eight, and he showed many flashes of what he could be the next few years as a starter.
Since then, his confidence has taken a hit.
His statistics his freshman year were nothing spectacular, but he did a good job running the team and controlling the tempo while splitting time with former player Andre Allen.
In his sophomore season, Kemp was replaced by freshman sensation Derrick Rose, who would later be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
Kemp's playing time dropped drastically from playing 21 minutes a game as a freshman to less than 14 minutes as a sophomore, where he took more of a shooter's role off the bench.
Last season was quite simply a nightmare for Kemp. His playing time continued to drop, and he really could not find the three-point shot he had his sophomore year.
As the season went on, his playing time continued to fall to the point he was only seeing around five minutes of playing time and having many scoreless outings.
I think it is safe to say that Kemp's confidence took a hit after seeing his starting job get taken away two seasons in a row since once having the spot as a freshman.
Kemp looks to be the favorite to be the starter going into the summer.
Another candidate for the starting position is sophomore Wesley Witherspoon. Witherspoon was also tested at point guard last season after Kemp and Antonio Anderson tried out and failed.
Witherspoon's time as a starter showed more of his tremendous upside than his readiness to start.
As a starter and later coming off the bench, Witherspoon struggled with his man defense, picking up bonehead fouls quick and early.
He also was not ready to lead the team as a starter, as he often picked up more turnovers than assists.
At the same time, Witherspoon also displayed his tremendous athleticism and improving ability to get to the rim. Many Tiger fans agree that Witherspoon has the best upside out of most of the players on the current roster.
Right now, Witherspoon is just a raw player with a lot of upside. Some good work over the summer and throughout the season can get Witherspoon some good minutes off the bench and maybe even a starting job somewhere other than point guard.
I simply do not think Witherspoon is ready to play point guard full-time just yet.
There is still a possibility that the Tigers go another direction for a point guard, including going after a high school player or a Junior College player.
There has been a lot of talk about the Tigers' interest in Miami-Dade point guard James Beatty. The signing of his ex-teammate Will Coleman could generate some interest on Beatty's part.
There is also a lot of small talk of the possibility of signing Coney Island star Lance Stephenson and playing him at point guard.
Stephenson is a combo guard with three-point range and a great ability to get to the basket. His ball-handling skills are fit to play point guard as well.
This option should not be slept on, but the Tigers have to sign Stephenson first, which is not a sure thing yet. Stephenson is currently considering Arizona and Memphis.
If I had to put money right now on the starting Memphis point guard next year, I would go with Willie Kemp.
Kemp has been a starter for the Tigers before and was on his way to being the starter for the next few years until two straight years of "one-and-done" point guards came in and took his spot.
Once Kemp gets his confidence back and can keep his play consistent and as turnover-free as possible, he could be the answer for the Tigers at point guard next season.
Of course, this is easier said than done, but you never know where a player will come out of to lead the team.
No matter who is named the starter to begin the season, Tiger Nation will always be behind him.
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