This is the third annual edition of Dime’s NCAA Player’s Ball, where we hand over the task of predicting and prognosticating to the real experts; the best college ballplayers in America. First up, Memphis senior forward Robert Dozier tells you why, despite losing NBA talent from its national runner-up roster, the Tigers will still be heard from come March Madness.
MEMPHIS ISN’T DEAD
“Our returning players got so much better, and the new guys are prepared to play now. Everybody put forth that effort. It’s all about working hard and proving yourself, and each and every one on this team has done it.
“I worked on everything this summer. When I went through the draft process, most of the (scouts) said ‘You got the tools, but you need to be more aggressive.’ I’ve been shooting the ball a lot better, handling it better. I’m way quicker and like 10 times stronger. Pierre Niles lost like 50 pounds from last year; he’s gonna make a big impact. Shawn Taggart got way stronger and he’s gonna be blocking shots. Antonio Anderson is on his game; he’s being more aggressive on offense. That’s been our problem, me and him — we’ve been more role players rather than guys who go out and get it, but now we have to be more aggressive. Willie Kemp and Doneal Mack, they’re gonna do they thing, coming in and hitting open jumpers. With the new guys, Tyreke Evans (Fr.) is coming in to pick up a lot of the scoring that Chris Douglas-Roberts gave us. Roburt Sallie (Fr.) can shoot it. Wesley Witherspoon (Fr.), he’s Mr. Do-It-All. He can play four positions. Angel Garcia (Fr.) is versatile, 6-9, kind of like me.
“The biggest question is replacing Derrick Rose. Right now it’s looking like Willie Kemp. I haven’t seen C.J. Henry (Fr.) play ’cause he had a little knee injury that I guess he got when he was with the Yankees. Antonio can play some point, and Wesley can play some point. We’re still working on that position.
“The workouts this summer were intense, man. There’d be a couple of fistfights every game, but hey, that keeps guys competitive. Nothing’s gonna change. We’re still fast-paced, get up and down, play defense. You know how we do it.”
You can see new-look Memphis tonight when they host UMass on ESPN at 12 a.m. EST.