SEASON PREVIEW 2002-03 | TOUGHEST PLAYERS to REPLACE
It's never easy to replace a key senior or an underclassman who leaves school early for the NBA draft. Sometimes, quality teams that do a good job filling in for a departed star can make a run to the Final Four. As is the case each year, a number of college stars graduated or left early, and their absence will impact their schools.
These five players were so vital to their teams' success -- it will be tough to find replacements.
1. Jay Williams | Duke
|Duke must find a way to replace the leadership and production of Jason Williams.|
He found ways to make the big play, shooting the 3-pointer and attacking the basket. His strength and presence on the floor made people better.
Duke has Chris Duhon and Daniel Ewing in the backcourt, but Williams will be missed. He had energy and excitement, and now he'll be a factor with the Chicago Bulls.
2. Juan Dixon | Maryland
He was a complete player on both ends of the court as he helped coach Gary Williams and the Terps win the national title.
He had a winner's mentality and a special toughness about him -- and that will be tougher to replace than his on-target jump shot. Drew Nicholas will feel some pressure as Dixon's potential replacement.
3. Steve Logan | Cincinnati
Cincinnati's offense went through Logan. He handled the rock, made the big 3-point shot and was automatic on the foul line. Logan was a consistent performer and a real leader for coach Bob Huggins' Bearcats. He had one of the premier all-around seasons as a senior. Can somebody else step up and do some of the things Logan did?
4. Caron Butler | Connecticut
He was Mr. Excitement for the Huskies. He was a dynamite performer in the NCAA Tournament, and he would have been magical for UConn this season if he had returned. Instead, he was a first-round pick for the Miami Heat, and I feel he'll make a run at the rookie of the year award. Had he gone back to school, he would have been a candidate for player of the year. His slashing ability and dominating performance in transition are special. Now Scott Hazelton could move into the starting lineup for the Huskies.
5. Dajuan Wagner | Memphis
He handled the ball so much and was part of almost every scheme Memphis ran. His scoring ability will be missed. He was erratic at times, and his shot selection could be questionable, but he was a true diaper dandy -- and the attention drawn towards him made other players more effective. Memphis would have had a big year if Wagner returned. Instead, he's with the Cleveland Cavaliers and recently battled an illness. Coach John Calipari will miss him.