In their miraculous run to the NCAA Championship, there was no doubt who would take the big shot in the big moment for UConn.
Shabazz Napier was the man.
Two years ago it was ""Russdiculous" for Louisville.
And the 'Canes run to the ACC Regular Season and Tournament titles was keyed by Super Sophomore Shane Larkin.
On the best teams, there are typically 2 and sometimes 3 performers who can make a clutch play on either end of the court.
We expect next season's Miami squad to be a deep one, with plenty of excellent players capable of contributing in numerous ways.
But will one player emerge as that "Alpha Dog?" The guy who makes the big shot to end the other team's big run, puts the game away in the closing minutes, and takes on the role of "closer" in tight games.
Let's take a look at some potential candidates and what they bring to the table:
Candidate #1 - Angel Rodriguez
Has the distinct advantage of being a PG. So he will have the ball in his hands plenty during crunch time. Thus far has been "ok" but not amazing as a shooter. But with a year off following his transfer from K State, look for that to improve. From what we have heard, he was already the vocal leader in practices last season. Very unselfish player though, so easily could defer to a teammate if one emerges as the better option.
Candidate #2 - Sheldon McClellan
McClellan was never shy about shooting the ball in his days at Texas. Blessed with exceptional size, handling, and an alleged 44 inch vertical leap, McClellan has everything you could want in a wing. His shooting numbers with the Longhorns however, left much to be desired. Former UM players Donnavan Kirk and Justin Heller raved to us about his abilities. If he can improve his shot selection and be more consistent with his jumper, he has NBA potential. This makes McClellan a frontrunner to take big shots at big times.
Candidate #3 - Deandre Burnett
Burnett is already legendary for his scoring prowess and he has yet to play a regular season college game. Once averaged 35 ppg in H.S. He has an arsenal that includes three pointers, pull-ups, drives, and medium range jumpers that allow him to put up points in bunches. Having spent a year at Prep School and after having missed last season with injury, should be far more mature than your average Redshirt Freshman. His effortless ability to score should make him a prime candidate for the closer role.
Candidate #4- Tonye Jekiri
Ok, So Jekiri hasn't quite lit it up offensively in his two seasons in Coral Gables. Nonetheless he IS the 'Canes most experienced player in the program. A 7 footer with decent touch and incredible athletic ability is always a candidate to emerge as a weapon offensively. Does he have the personality to take his game to the next level? Time will tell.
Candidate #5- Davon Reed
Reed had an up and down freshman campaign, but when he was on you could really see his talent. He started out the season running the point, and filled the role admirably while Manu Lecome learned. However, he is better suited to play on the wing and fill it up. His jumper is already silky smooth. Will a medium game and the ability to take the ball to the basket catch up with his outside shooting? If it does he might end up being UM's best offensive weapon.
Precocious freshman JaQuan Newton was clearly an Alpha in H.S. so he too could emerge, though I think like most first year players, he will likely defer to the more experienced guys.
Ivan Cruz Uceda is a stretch four with tremendous upside who shot the ball very well at his JUCO. He too should be watched very closely.
Which player on Miami do you think will emerge as the "Alpha Dog?"