Every successful college basketball team has an effective sixth man to bring off the bench.
Whether that player provides energy, tough rebounding, an infusion of scoring or some combination of those attributes—it is essential to have a player who embraces the role of coming off the bench and providing a boost to his team.
Assuming that UMass coach Derek Kellogg goes with a starting lineup of Chaz Williams, Derrick Gordon, Raphiael Putney, Sampson Carter and Cady Lalanne, these are UMass’ most likely candidates to step in and make an impact as a sixth man in 2013-14.
3. Clyde Santee
Earlier this summer, star guard Chaz Williams spent a night answering questions from fans on the website 'ask.fm'. When posed the question, "Who on the team will be the biggest surprise to fans this year?", Williams' reply was, "I truly believe it can be Clyde."
Santee, a 6’7’’ freshman from Houston, should see time at both guard and small forward for the Minutemen.
His addition will give UMass a capable scorer with three-point range and rebounding ability. UMass lost three of its top-four three-point threats from a year ago (Terrell Vinson, Freddie Riley, Jesse Morgan), and the Minutemen will need Santee to be effective from long-range.
2. Trey Davis
Davis showed real promise as a freshman last year, highlighted by clutch free throws and overall play at Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym in January, as well as a 12-point effort off the bench in a March victory at Xavier (one of UMass’ best wins of 2012-2013).
The 6’0’’ guard has also displayed a sweet three-point stroke, making 44% of his attempts in 2012-13.
In the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, Davis went 3-of-3 from beyond the arc in UMass’ win over George Washington. Look for Davis to be even more confident in 2013-14, as he will be the primary guard spelling Williams and Gordon.
1. Maxie Esho
To the majority of UMass fans, the obvious candidate to emerge as a key sixth man is 6’8’’ junior forward Maxie Esho. Esho will provide a ton of energy off the bench and could certainly start at power forward over Kellogg’s probable selection, Sampson Carter.
Esho is known to electrify the crowd with massive dunks and has even showed promise as a rebounder (seven offensive boards, ten overall against VCU in the semifinals of the A-10 Tournament). Don’t be shocked if Esho plays himself into the starting lineup as the season progresses, but until that point he will provide exciting play as the first guy off the bench for UMass.
Honorable Mention: Zach Coleman