College Basketball: 5 Players Facing a "Put Up or Shut Up" 2011-2012 Season
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Every year, there are several players at the college level who inevitably aren't living up to the standard set forth by their coaches, the media, their school's fans, or all of the above.
In an age where kids are hyped before they reach middle school and are treated like professional athletes before they earn their high school diploma, there are bound to be a fair share of players who never pan out. They get comfortable within the limelight, and never acquire the work ethic requisite of a top player.
Fortunately for college athletes, there are four years to prove that they are worth the fanfare and praise bestowed upon them.
This year, there are five—actually six—power conference players who are in need of an enormous season if they don't want to receive the dreaded "bust" label.
1. Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State
Once the No. 1 player in his high school class, this is Mr. Sidney's last shot in Starkville.
He has had no shortage of problems since arriving in 2009 as the program's most heralded recruit in history. The trouble started soon after.
Sidney was declared ineligible for the entire 2009-2010 season, then another 30% of the 2010-2011 season. Once he finally could suit up for the Bulldogs, he was suspended on two separate occasions by head coach Rick Stansbury.
First, he was suspended for one game because of an outburst with a teammate during practice. Then came the national headline-inducing incident. While playing on television at the Diamond Head Classic in Las Vegas, cameras caught Sidney and teammate Elgin Bailey fighting in the stands. This landed the enigmatic star another suspension from Stansbury.
After the dust had cleared, he ended up averaging 14.2 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Bulldogs, showing glimpses of his still-enormous potential. Over the summer, he trained with John Lucas, who only enhanced the public view that Sidney has the talent to be as good as he wants to be. Lucas went on record to say that only Kobe and LeBron are more talented than Renardo Sidney is (Sporting News).
Only time will tell if he can finally live up to the hype. As the centerpiece of a talented Mississippi State team this upcoming season, he has the perfect opportunity. Look for this to be Renardo Sidney's final college season.
Whether he makes a lasting impression on the college basketball world is his choice.
2. David and Travis Wear, UCLA
The Wear brothers get a re-do on their college careers this season when they suit up for the UCLA Bruins.
Coming out of high school as 2009 McDonald's All-Americans and consensus top 20 recruits, their freshman seasons didn't live up to their lofty billing.
Both saw spotty playing time for the North Carolina in 2009-10, averaging less than four points per contest. Unhappy with their situation, both ended up transferring at the culmination of that season.
Now back home in sunny Southern California, they look to get their careers back on track. The 6'10", 220 pound forwards will look to make noise in a crowded and talented Bruins frontcourt. Look for them to play both small and power forward for the Pac-12 power.
3. Michael Snaer, Florida State
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Florida State Seminole 6'5" shooting guard Michael Snaer is a classic example of what's wrong with grassroots media exposure.
Not only did he come out of high school with an amount of praise that he could not possibly live up to, but he was also overvalued as a potential "one and done" NBA prospect before ever playing a college game.
While the junior hasn't had a bad career in Tallahassee (he has a career average of 8.8 points per game), he also hasn't quite lived up to what was expected of him out of the prep ranks. The one-time top 10 prospect is now looking to lead the Seminoles offense with Chris Singleton off to the NBA. It's now or never for the athletic and powerful two-guard.
4. Fab Melo, Syracuse
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Syracuse sophomore Fab Melo came into last season as the Preseason Big East Rookie of the Year. What followed was a disappointing season in which the 7-footer failed to live up to those considerable expectations. The 250-pound center is blessed with a rare knack for shot blocking—a skill very few college and professional centers possess in their arsenal.
Though he showed flashes of his enormous potential last season, including 12 points in a Big East Tournament victory over St. John's, it wasn't enough to make Orange fans forget his lackluster season.
This year, look for him to attempt to put the whole package together, teaming with another extraordinary shot blocker in incoming freshman Rakeem Christmas.
5. Mike Rosario, Florida
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The Florida Gators scored big when former Rutgers star Mike Rosario decided last year to take his talents to South Beach—scratch that, Gainesville—to play for Billy Donovan's program. The redshirt junior spent his first two years of eligibility living in relative anonymity while scoring over 1,000 points in just two college seasons for Rutgers.
Playing for the typically cellar dwelling program—Rosario was originally from New Jersey, and was a McDonald's All-American out of high school, making his decision even more of a head-scratcher—the sizzling shooter decided he was ready to head out of state and change to a winning program, which made the University of Florida an exceptional choice.
However, ditching your teammates for greener pastures isn't the most popular or noble thing to do. Therefore, look for many to root against Rosario, putting even more pressure on him to perform. He also must adjust to not being the unanimous number one scoring option on his new team.
It's easy to lead the JV team in scoring, but can you do it at the varsity level? I guess Mike Rosario will let the SEC know in the coming months.