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Joe Boozell | | September 22, 2018

College basketball all-glue team: 5 role players who will make an impact this season

Villanova's road to the Final Four

The term ‘glue guy’ gets thrown around on college basketball broadcasts on a nightly basis, and though the analytics movement aims to quantify everything that takes place on the court, these players’ contributions are immeasurable.

Here are the best glue guys in college basketball this year.

G Phil Booth, Villanova

Booth has been a glue guy throughout his entire Villanova tenure. The perfect complementary player to stars like Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges, Booth can hit open shots, attack a scrambled defense, and hold his own on the defensive end. National champions need stars in order to stand out, but Villanova wouldn’t have cut down the nets twice if not for Booth.

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More may be asked of him this year with Brunson, Bridges, Omari Spellman and Donte DiVincenzo gone. Booth averaged 10 points per game last season on 44 percent shooting (38 percent from 3). The volume figures to increase as a senior, but to what extent? It’s unclear right now. Incoming freshman point guard Jahvon Quinerly looks like a stud. It will be interesting to see how the shot distribution shakes out.

The good news for Villanova: Booth is versatile. We know how competent he is as a secondary creator, but it feels like there’s untapped potential if Quinerly needs time to develop. The best thing about Booth is that he doesn’t have to put up massive numbers in order to have a positive effect on a team.

G Matt McQuaid, Michigan State

McQuaid was overshadowed by guys like Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson last year. Rightfully so, frankly. But he’ll have more a role on Michigan State in 2018-19 and based on what we’ve seen, he’s up to the task.

You can never have too many shooters, and McQuaid is a viable threat on the perimeter. He nailed 39 percent of his 3s last year and provides valuable spacing for a Spartans’ offense often lacking it. McQauid doesn’t use up many possessions, but he makes the most of the ones he does use.

His defense could use some work, but he’s not a total sieve on that end. McQuaid’s lack of size and quickness will always be a challenge on that end, but he knows where to be and works hard. With another year of experience, McQuaid could approach ‘3-and-D wing’ status.

G Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech

Culver quietly had a stellar freshman season. He’s probably the best player on this list. Culver averaged 11.2 points and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 46 percent from the floor and 38 percent from distance last year.

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With Zhaire Smith and Keenan Evans gone, Culver will take on a more prominent role as a sophomore. But he was an overqualified glue guy as a freshman. Culver was capable of creating offense in a pinch, but was also happy to space on the perimeter. He played bigger than his 6-5 height; his rebounding numbers are proof. Culver also averaged 1.1 steals per game and was generally a menace for a stout Texas Tech defense.

This is probably the last year we’ll be able to put Culver on this team, because there are bigger things in his future. But he was a big part of Texas Tech’s Elite Eight run last season as a complementary piece.

F Naji Marshall, Xavier

You can stick Marshall on the other team’s best player and know that player will have to work hard for his points. That in itself is extremely valuable.

Marshall, who’s listed at 6-7, 218 pounds, is a switchable defender capable of guarding at least four positions adequately. But he’s quietly solid on offense, too. In just 21.8 minutes per game, Marshall averaged 7.7 points on 53 percent shooting while grabbing 4.4 rebounds last year. His jump shot needs some work, but he could become a passable 3-point shooter with reasonable progression – Marshall shot 35 percent from distance last year on a limited number of attempts.

Chris Mack trusted Marshall more than Kaiser Gates by the end of last season. There’s a new coach in place, but with Trevon Bluiett and J.P. Macura gone, the Musketeers will need even more from Marshall as a sophomore. And he should be able to provide it. But at his foundation, Marshall is already a plus 3-and-D wing. Anything else is gravy.

C Paschal Chukwu, Syracuse

Chukwu’s game isn’t pretty (except for the shot-blocking, which we’ll get to soon) but he’s effective. The 7-2 center is a beast in the middle of the Syracuse zone and averaged 5.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 27.2 minutes per game last year.

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Chukwu’s game isn’t pretty (except for the shot-blocking, which we’ll get to soon) but he’s effective. The 7-2 center is a beast in the middle of the Syracuse zone and averaged 5.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 27.2 minutes per game last year.

Most of his value comes on defense, even though he rarely misses a shot (Chukwu made 66 percent of his field goals last year, but mostly feasts on dunks and putbacks). Syracuse only allowed 95.1 points per 100 possessions with Chukwu on the floor, a stellar mark that led Orange rotation players. And surprisingly, Chukwu also led Syracuse in offensive rating (122.8).

That’s not to say Chukwu is the best offensive player on Syracuse, but he’s not. But he doesn’t hurt the offense and is a huge plus on the defensive end. Add it all up, and you’re talking about a player with immense value.

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