Commentary

Players with most to prove

Updated: August 26, 2013, 4:17 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

Every year, at the start of the college basketball season, there are players who have a lot to prove.

Some guys you just can't wait to see how they respond to the adversity they have faced. It might be from an off-court injury, other injuries or past issues at another school.

This season is no exception. Let's take a look at some of the guys with something to prove this season.

Down at North Carolina, there have been reports that P.J. Hairston will get another chance to wear a Tar Heels jersey. His errors in judgment have been well chronicled over the summer, so he is getting a lucky break. Hopefully he will take advantage of the opportunity to represent both himself and the school with a sense of pride. He is expected to miss a number of games, but hopefully he will respond and get a chance to redeem himself.

Marshall Henderson of Mississippi led the SEC in scoring last season as the Rebels made a nice run in the Big Dance. Henderson also has had his share of problems over the years, including a report of a failed drug test over the summer. Henderson is expected to return to school, and hopefully he will appreciate putting on the uniform and competing, He has to grow up and show something both on and off the court.

Scottie Wilbekin of Florida also has been suspended in the past. He is currently in the doghouse, but if he can get his act together, he can be an important member of the highly ranked Gators. Depth in the backcourt will be crucial for Billy Donovan's squad.

At St. John's, it looked like D'Angelo Harrison was history. He was suspended late last season by coach Steve Lavin, and his return was based on getting in the good graces of the staff and team. He was part of a recent team trip to Europe. Harrison averaged almost 18 points per game last season and is a major scoring threat on a team that could make noise in the Big East. People say he has changed, and we will see if he remains part of the Red Storm.

Josh Smith always had talent, but his weight and conditioning were a problem. He left UCLA and now will have a chance to prove himself at Georgetown. He has slimmed down and still has more work to do, but I am rooting for the young man to succeed.

Tim Frazier of Penn State was out most of last season with an Achilles tendon tear. After nine months of hard work, he came back to the Nittany Lions on a summer tour. When he is on, Frazier is one of the premier players in the Big Ten.

I will keep an eye on these guys to see how they respond after tough times.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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