Ranking the Most Important 'Glue Guys' in College Basketball in 2014-15

Thad Novak@@ThadNovakCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2016

Ranking the Most Important 'Glue Guys' in College Basketball in 2014-15

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Star power is a great asset to a college basketball team, but having too many elite talents can cause its own problems. Sometimes, the most valuable asset to a coach is the kind of player who doesn’t always look good in a box score but does a little of everything to help his team win.

    The archetypal “glue guy” does the dirty work as a defender while also grabbing key rebounds, making the right pass and knocking down the occasional big shot when the defense ignores him. He's usually a team leader; therefore, upperclassmen are the norm in this category.

    Wisconsin’s Josh Gasser, who has been helping the Badgers grind their way to wins for three years already, has a chance to do the same for a national champion to close out his college career.

    Here is a closer look at Gasser and the rest of the 10 best glue guys in the country, with an eye to picking the ones who will make the biggest difference in the way the 2014-15 season unfolds.

    These rankings are based on three major factors: how good the player is at making the variety of contributions the role calls for, how badly his team needs someone to do what he does and how much of an impact his team is likely to have on the national scene.

10. Josh Hart, Villanova

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    Nick LoVerde/Associated Press

    Skill Set: B+

    Josh Hart, heir apparent to James Bell’s starting job, won’t score like his predecessor but brings outstanding rebounding ability for a 6’5” guard.

     

    Demand: B

    He’s the most physical perimeter player on the Wildcats roster, but this is a balanced backcourt that behaves largely as a collection of role players already.

     

    Team Prospects: A-

    The prohibitive Big East favorites are deep and experienced, but their lack of a go-to star may be their undoing in the Big Dance.

9. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Skill Set: B 

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can defend anyone but the biggest centers and quickest guards. Unfortunately, the 6’7” sophomore hasn’t yet learned to play offense with the same fluidity.

     

    Demand: B+ 

    Arizona’s defense would be an intimidating weapon even without him. His unselfishness, though, will go a long way on this crowded front line.

     

    Team Prospects: A

    Battle-tested from last year’s Elite Eight trip, the Wildcats are a Final Four favorite.

8. Justin Anderson, Virginia

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Skill Set: A-

    A fine defender like the rest of his Virginia teammates, junior swingman Justin Anderson also chips in as a rebounder, passer and occasional scorer.

     

    Demand: A-

    Egos aren’t an issue on star-free Virginia, but every competent offensive player is a precious commodity here.

     

    Team Prospects: A-

    They may be the defending ACC champs, but the Cavaliers will need to prove they’re more than just a great defense when March comes around.

7. Wayne Blackshear, Louisville

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    Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

    Skill Set: A-

    Wayne Blackshear is a top-tier athlete who has helped some volatile Louisville teams hang together. He represents the last substantial link to the 2013 national champs.

     

    Demand: A-

    Even with Russ Smith gone, finding enough shots to go around won’t be trivial. 

     

    Team Prospects: A-

    Smith’s graduation takes the Cards out of the top group of Final Four contenders, but there’s still plenty of talent here.

6. Tekele Cotton, Wichita State

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Skill Set: A+

    A premier defender in his first year as a starter, Tekele Cotton became a valuable facilitator on offense for last year’s Wichita State squad.

     

    Demand: B+

    If anything, Cotton will need to be less of a glue guy and more of a scorer on this unselfish (and Cleanthony Early-less) roster.

     

    Team Prospects: A-

    The Shockers will walk all over the Missouri Valley Conference again, but they’re probably one forward short of a serious Final Four run.

5. Josh Gasser, Wisconsin

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    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Skill Set: A

    He’s not as accomplished a passer as some on this list, but Josh Gasser is a lockdown defender who has plenty of other skills to offer.

     

    Demand: B

    Wisconsin has lots of versatility in its starting lineup, and sharing the ball (along with the credit) is a Badgers specialty.

     

    Team Prospects: A+

    Gasser is one of four starters back from a Final Four squad, a group that includes stellar center Frank Kaminsky.

4. Alex Poythress, Kentucky

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Skill Set: B

    Alex Poythress found a home as a super sub last season, but the rebounding ace doesn’t have the passing or defensive acumen of many players on this list.

     

    Demand: A+

    Poythress’ evolution into a source of energy and team-first play didn’t get enough credit for the Wildcats’ success last year.

     

    Team Prospects: A+

    The preseason favorites for the national title have two lineups' worth of star-caliber talent.

3. J.P. Tokoto, North Carolina

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    Skill Set: A

    Already a defensive stopper and dunk artist, J.P. Tokoto has shown improved passing acumen in UNC’s summer exhibitions.

     

    Demand: A-

    These Tar Heels aren’t as stacked with stars as some previous versions, but a wing who can contribute without shooting is still welcome.

     

    Team Prospects: A

    With leading Wooden Award contender Marcus Paige running the show, North Carolina is one big reason the ACC should expect to have two teams in the Final Four next spring.

2. Rasheed Sulaimon, Duke

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Skill Set: A+

    He doesn’t put up many points, but Rasheed Sulaimon provides plenty of toughness, defense and passing—along with a .410 three-point percentage when he does shoot.

     

    Demand: B

    Freshman Justise Winslow is a star with glue-guy instincts—a super-glue guy, perhaps?—who can carry the load almost as readily as Sulaimon.

     

    Team Prospects: A+

    If you don’t feel like picking Kentucky to win it all this year, Duke is the next best bet.

1. Demarcus Holland, Texas

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Skill Set: A

    The one Texas guard who doesn’t score, Demarcus Holland does pretty much everything else (including clean up on the glass at just 6’2”).

     

    Demand: A

    Already a valuable steadying influence, Holland becomes even more important as the Longhorns try to work superstar freshman Myles Turner into their crowded low-post rotation.

     

    Team Prospects: A

    With five returning starters plus Turner, Texas is a big-time Final Four threat.