With less than one week until the men's college basketball season, I'm breaking down the elder statesmen who will play integral roles in their teams' success this year. These are the seniors I believe will have the biggest impact on their teams, not necessarily the best seniors in the nation.
- Oscar Tshiebwe, Kentucky: The reigning Naismith player starts the season as the player to beat in that category. He’s a double-double machine and nearly impossible to out-rebound. He’s also one of the most approachable stars in the game.
- Drew Timme, Gonzaga: Timme absolutely loves being a Zag. He’s also a player-of-the year candidate and can lead Gonzaga back to the Final Four. He is a scorer, leader and overall one of the more consistent players in the game.
- Armando Bacot, North Carolina: Bacot is determined to get that title. He was a few minutes shy last season against Kansas. He will be a dominant force inside for UNC. He was tabbed as the preseason ACC player of the year.
- Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana: TJD is the frontrunner for Big Ten player of the year. He led the Hoosiers to the NCAA tournament and a First Four win over Wyoming. He can do so much more. He’s determined to lead Indiana to a Final Four.
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- Marcus Sasser, Houston: Sasser could have stayed in the draft, but by staying, he signaled that he’s a contender for player of the year and the Cougars for a Final Four. He answers all of Houston’s offensive questions with his scoring prowess.
- Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA: Jaquez shared the spotlight with Johnny Juzang last year. Now it’s his time to shine even brighter. He loves being a Bruin, and he has the goods to be Pac-12 player of the year.
- Adam Flagler, Baylor: Flagler waited his turn to be the top Baylor guard. He has elevated his game and will take the natural step it seems all elite Baylor perimeter players take as seniors.
- Kyle Lofton, Florida: Lofton was one of the most important transfer portal pickups. His playmaking could be the best in the SEC. He’s exactly what Todd Golden needed in his first season in Gainesville.
- Caleb McConnell, Rutgers: The reigning Big Ten defensive player of the year is no stranger to offense. He was the best scorer on the floor for the Scarlet Knights in their NCAA tournament late-game loss to Notre Dame. He’s ready to be a two-way player for Rutgers from day one.
IMPACT PLAYERS BY CLASS: Freshmen | Sophomores | Juniors
- Hunter Maldonado, Wyoming: Maldonado has been a legit scorer for the Cowboys and led them to the NCAA tournament. He could push aside Matt Bradley from San Diego State as the Mountain West’s player of the year.
- Fardaws Aimaq, Texas Tech: The Utah Valley Mr. Everything will fit right in with Mark Adams’ crew in Lubbock. Fans will love his work ethic, board work and craftiness around the basket.