College Basketball Teams That Will Be over-Reliant on Star Players in 2014-15
Being over-reliant on a single college basketball player is rarely a good thing.
Over the past five seasons, 107 players have averaged 20.0 points per game or better. Kemba Walker is the only one who led his team to the Final Four.
Variety is the spice of life, and diversity on the scoreboard seems to be a recipe for success.
There's a fine line between leading a team to victory and simply being a good player.
We're not arguing that these 20 stars lack a leadership gene. Rather, we're suggesting that these Batmen don't seem to have the necessary Robins and Alfreds to help them save the world from time to time.
West Virginia: Juwan Staten
2013-14 stats: 18.1 PPG, 5.8 APG, 5.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG
Long story short, if Juwan Staten doesn't lead the nation in scoring this season, West Virginia might win fewer than 10 games.
Eron Harris played a fantastic second fiddle to Staten last season, but he transferred to Michigan State earlier this week. Staten's next-best teammate Terry Henderson is also transferring, though we still don't know where.
Unless former role players like Remi Dibo and Gary Browne decide to make meteoric rises this year, Staten is pretty much all the Mountaineers have.
But how can he improve upon 15.0 points, 5.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game, when he's already the only returning player in the country who accomplished the feat last season?
Even if he's every bit as magical as last season, we're still talking about a 17-win team that's losing two crucial players.
Stanford: Chasson Randle
2013-14 stats: 18.8 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.0 SPG
Stanford was already almost too reliant on Chasson Randle last year. The 20.1 field-goal attempts per game for Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis were just barely enough to keep Randle under wraps.
Both of those seniors have graduated, though, leaving Randle an opening to increase his shot quota drastically.
The Cardinal still have Anthony Brown and Stefan Nastic in the mix—not to mention highly rated freshmen like Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey—but there's no doubt that this is Randle's rodeo.
Randle averaged 16 field-goal attempts per game during Stanford's run to the Sweet 16. He also committed five turnovers per game while frequently trying to create even more shots for himself.
Iowa: Aaron White
2013-14 stats: 12.8 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG
Aaron White was passively one of the better scorers in the country last season. He averaged 1.73 points per field-goal attempt, as compared to the 1.28 that Roy Devyn Marble averaged while leading the Hawkeyes in scoring.
Even Doug McDermott only averaged 1.49 points per field-goal attempt.
But White was far too often content with deferring to Marble. He only averaged 7.4 field-goal attempts per game.
With Marble graduating, though, the Hawkeyes will desperately need White to become a more assertive scorer. He made 58.4 percent of his field goals and 80.7 percent of his free throws last season. There's no excuse for a player like that to score fewer than 18 points per game.
Eastern Washington: Tyler Harvey
2013-14 stats: 21.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.1 SPG
The good news for Eastern Washington: There wasn't a single senior on last year's roster. The Eagles are bringing back everyone other than a freshman who transferred after playing just three games.
The bad news for the Eagles: They'll have the exact same roster that went 15-16 last season.
Tyler Harvey was the team's leading scorer last year, and the Eagles will be relying heavily upon him to get them a few more wins this year. In games where he scored more than 25 points, Eastern Washington was 6-2.
Kansas State: Marcus Foster
2013-14 stats: 15.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.5 APG
We were blessed with a ton of great freshmen last season, but many of them went the one-and-done route. With Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, James Young, Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Noah Vonleh, Tyler Ennis, Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon all bolting for the NBA after one season, it might be tempting to think that the sophomore class is devoid of talent.
However, we'll have at least one gem in the form of Marcus Foster.
Great as he was as a freshman, it wasn't until February that he really hit his stride. He averaged 19.3 points per game over his final 13 games.
Not only did his game improve over the course of the season, but he should be in line for even more playing time with Will Spradling graduating. Foster played just 29.4 minutes per game last year.
Even with those somewhat limited minutes, though, he attempted 137 more field goals than any other player on the team. And as someone who shot just 42.3 percent from the field last season, more shots might not necessarily be a great thing for Kansas State.
Boston College: Olivier Hanlan
2013-14 stats: 18.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 2.9 APG
Olivier Hanlan was already Boston College's leading scorer and the third-highest scorer in the ACC.
Imagine what might happen now that his two best teammates are transferring away. Ryan Anderson is off to Arizona, and Joe Rahon is headed to Saint Mary's.
Hanlan scored nearly three times as many points as the next-best returning Eagle. The crazy thing about that is he wasn't anywhere near as much of a high-volume shooter as most of the other names on this list. He only averaged 13.3 field-goal attempts per 40 minutes last season.
But now that he is unquestionably the primary piece of the offensive attack, that number may increase by leaps and bounds.
Whether it's enough to keep Boston College from losing 20 games next year is a different matter altogether.
Oregon: Joseph Young
2013-14 stats: 18.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.3 SPG
There are train wrecks. There are disasters. And then there's Oregon's offseason.
The Ducks have six graduating seniors—five of whom played significant minutes. Three players were dismissed from the team. Two others transferred.
Add it all up and you get a returning team of Joseph Young and not much else. The Ducks will still have Elgin Cook, but he's the only other player who scored more than 32 points last season.
Young has the ability to score 25 points per game, but asking him to be the savior for a team that will be held together by a lot of freshmen and JUCO transfers is probably too much.
UC Santa Barbara: Alan Williams
2013-14 stats: 21.3 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 2.4 BPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 SPG
Alan Williams averaged 15.0 field-goal attempts and 7.7 free-throw attempts per game last season.
Michael Bryson ranked second on the team with 8.5 FGA, and Zalmico Harmon was the second most frequent visitor of the charity stripe, averaging 3.3 FTA per game.
UC Santa Barbara might as well change its nickname to the Williams Warriors.
To be fair, he's the one taking all of those shots because he is a work horse and clearly the best player on the team. An over-reliance on Williams is arguably the Gauchos' best shot at representing the Big West in the 2015 NCAA tournament.
If he got injured for any length of time, though, UC Santa Barbara would struggle to score 55 points per game.
High Point: John Brown
2013-14 stats: 19.5 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.6 BPG, 1.5 SPG
Just like Alan Williams at UC Santa Barbara, John Brown is the beginning and the end of High Point's attack.
We've already dropped this nugget of information elsewhere this offseason, but it bears repeating: In 2013-14, Brown scored 211 more points than any other player on his team. He also had 93 more rebounds, 25 more blocks and 21 more steals than any other Panther.
(He didn't quite lead the team in assists, but it's exceptionally difficult to get any dimes when you're the one doing all the scoring.)
He scored at least 12 points in all but three games last season.
How did High Point fare in those three games, you ask? The Panthers merely lost by 32.3 points per game.
Notre Dame: Jerian Grant
2013-14 stats: 19.0 PPG, 6.2 APG, 2.5 RPG, 2.0 SPG
Notre Dame struggled in its first year in the ACC, but Jerian Grant has yet to experience the rigors of the new conference schedule.
He was ruled academically ineligible in late December and was only able to play 12 games last season.
That won't stop the Irish from heavily relying on him for the 2014-15 season. With Garrick Sherman and Eric Atkins graduating, Grant will be expected to jump right back into the fold without missing a beat.
His 19 points and six assists per game could go a long way toward helping Notre Dame stay out of the basement of the ACC. But any time that he struggles or an opposing team focuses on slowing him down, Notre Dame could be in serious trouble.
Brigham Young: Tyler Haws
2013-14 stats: 23.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 SPG
For my money, Tyler Haws is the favorite to lead the nation in scoring this season.
He ranked sixth in the country last year. Of the five players ahead of him, four are no longer playing college basketball, and the fifth (Antoine Mason) is transferring to a conference that will actually be capable of stopping him once in a while.
But what really makes Haws a candidate to score upwards of 27 points per game is the same thing that makes it unlikely for BYU to make the 2015 NCAA tournament.
The Cougars' second-leading scorer from last season (Kyle Collinsworth) is recovering from a torn ACL suffered very late in the 2013-14 season. Their third-leading scorer (Matt Carlino) transferred to Marquette. The fourth-best scorer (Eric Mika) is on an LDS mission for the next two years.
BYU was the third-highest scoring team in the country last season, but who is going to score aside from Haws?
Green Bay: Keifer Sykes
2013-14 stats: 20.3 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.2 SPG
The $64,000 question at Green Bay is, How will the Phoenix adjust to life without Alec Brown?
Keifer Sykes was already the best player on the team. Heck, he was named the Horizon League Player of the Year. But Brown was the defensive player of the year. The 7'1" shot-blocking and three-point shooting giant was the perfect complement to the 5'11" guard who loved to score in the paint.
Without Brown, though, will there be space for Sykes to do his thing?
He'll certainly be expected to. He scored 288 more points in 2013-14 than any other returning player on the team.
If he can rediscover his three-point stroke, perhaps he and Green Bay will be just fine. Sykes shot 43.1 percent from downtown two years ago but shot just 30.9 percent this past season.
Nebraska: Terran Petteway
2013-14 stats: 18.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.6 APG
Ray Gallegos is graduating, and Deverell Biggs is transferring away from Nebraska.
Though the Cornhuskers made some national waves by making the tournament last season, they aren't exactly replacing those players with high-ranking recruits. Arguably their best incoming player is Moses Ayegba, who averaged all of 1.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game last year for Georgetown.
Role players will inevitably step up their game, but Terran Petteway may be expected to become even more of a leader next season in the absence of better options.
Without a doubt, he was the most important player on the team in 2013-14. But now that people will actually be watching Nebraska throughout the season rather than jumping on the bandwagon in the middle of February, we'll see how well he can lead this team through uncharted waters.
Temple: Will Cummings
2013-14 stats: 16.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.5 SPG
Last season, Temple had four players who could score in bunches. From that group, Dalton Pepper is graduating, and Anthony Lee is transferring to Ohio State.
The Owls do still have Quenton DeCosey and should get some help from Daniel Dingle if he recovers well from a torn meniscus, but there is a lot of weight falling on the shoulders of their starting point guard.
Will Cummings is plenty capable of being the leading scorer—he averaged 16.8 points on just 12.2 field-goal attempts per game last year—but his supporting cast leaves a lot to be wanted.
He may average more than 20 points per game, but it doesn't mean the team will necessarily win more than the nine games it won in 2013-14.
Evansville: D.J. Balentine
2013-14 stats: 22.8 PPG, 4.2 APG, 2.7 RPG
D.J. Balentine scored 416 more points than anyone else on his team last season. You could take away his 78 made three-pointers and his 216 made free throws, and he'd still be just 34 points away from leading the team in scoring.
According to KenPom.com (subscription required), he attempted 33.8 percent of the team's field-goal attempts when he was on the court. No other Ace was higher than 19.0 percent.
He scored at least 23 points in 17 different games last year. He scored 43 points in a loss to Northern Iowa and had 31 points with seven made three-pointers in Evansville's final game against Wichita State.
Despite all that scoring, Balentine also led the team in assists. Virtually nothing on offense happened without him taking part in it.
Oklahoma State: Le'Bryan Nash
2013-14 stats: 13.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.6 APG
Five of Oklahoma State's seven leading scorers from last season are gone, leaving just Le'Bryan Nash and Phil Forte behind.
Forte will contend for the honor of leading scorer, but he's a bit of a one-trick pony with a great three-point stroke.
Nash will need to be the heart and soul for the Cowboys if they're going to return to the NCAA tournament for a third straight year. Without Marcus Smart and Markel Brown around to carry the load, the senior power forward is the primary veteran presence on an otherwise very young team.
During Smart's three-game suspension last season, Nash scored 23 against Texas and had a double-double against Oklahoma. That's at least cause to believe he can step up his game next year.
Delaware: Kyle Anderson
2013-14 stats: 11.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG
With five players averaging at least 11.0 PPG, Delaware's offense was pretty well-balanced last season.
Unfortunately, the 2014 tournament team is undergoing quite the facelift this summer. Three of the Fightin' Blue Hens' leading scorers are graduating, and a fourth was kicked off the team on Tuesday for the catch-all "violations of team rules."
That leaves Kyle Anderson as the only returning player who attempted more than three field goals per game last season.
Maybe he'll end up becoming less efficient when he gets more shots, but there's at least a chance he was merely being outshone by Devon Saddler, Jarvis Threatt and Davon Usher.
Now that Anderson figures to be the go-to scorer, he could average more than 20 points per game. But that still leaves at least 50 points per game to be scored by teammates who didn't exactly show an ability to do so last season.
Detriot: Juwan Howard Jr.
2013-14 stats: 18.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.2 APG
Juwan Howard Jr. is one of the main reasons I have faith in Kyle Anderson's contributions at Delaware next season.
Two years ago, Howard was Detroit's fifth-leading scorer. But the four leading scorers each left after that season, leading him to increase his scoring average by 141 percent.
He was 10th in the nation in field-goal attempts last season. On average he attempted 7.2 more field goals than any other Titan. Detroit's second-leading scorer from last season (Evan Bruinsma) graduates this summer, which means that Howard scored 332 more points than the next-best returning player.
Despite his hero-ball tendencies, he didn't exactly save the team from losing many games. Howard had 10.9 more points per game than the previous season, but Detroit's winning percentage dropped from 60.6 in 2012-13 to 40.6.
Talented as he is, the Titans desperately need to find a few good men to help Howard carry the scoring load.
Georgetown: D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera
2013-14 stats: 17.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 SPG
What was once a two-pronged attack in the backcourt will now be a one-man show for Georgetown.
Both D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks averaged better than 17.0 points per game last season, but Starks is fresh out of eligibility, leaving Smith-Rivera to be the team's singular leading scorer.
Between Isaac Copeland, L.J. Peak and Paul White, the Hoyas have some excellent incoming freshmen who should help out considerably. However, there's no question that this team only goes as far as Smith-Rivera takes them.
According to KenPom.com, Smith-Rivera had the best O-rating on the team by a considerable margin, so perhaps over-relying on him will work out for the best.
Massachusetts: Cady Lalanne
2013-14 stats: 11.3 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.2 BPG
Early on last season, Cady Lalanne was a stud for Massachusetts. Through 18 games, the Minutemen were 16-2 with him averaging 14.0 PPG and 9.3 RPG. He recorded a double-double in nine of those games.
But then he disappeared.
As Massachusetts lost seven of its last 15 games, he averaged 8.1 PPG and 6.3 RPG. He had just one double-double during that stretch, and it came in what was unquestionably the team's most humiliating defeat of the season—an 11-point loss at home to George Mason.
With Chaz Williams and Sampson Carter graduating this summer, the Minutemen need the early-season version of Lalanne and then some. Unless he dominates in the paint all season long, 2014-15 could be a rough year for Massachusetts.
Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.
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