Pressure is something a lot of players this season are going to endure. Every player, to an extent, will feel pressure, from trying to achieve a greater number of wins than last season to freshman phenoms living up to the hype.
Here at Dime, I came up with 10 collegiate players that I think are under the most pressure this season. So press play on your iPod and listen to Queen‘s “Under Pressure and let’s take a look and see if you agree.
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10. AARON CRAFT
Since his freshman season, Aaron Craft has been surrounded by leaders like William Buford, David Lighty, Jon Diebler and let’s not forget Jared Sullinger. They all took pressure with a grain of salt and were able to lead their teams to victory. The time is now for Aaron Craft to do the same, especially with the experience he has in him as a senior. Pressure busts pipes, but also some players thrive in it. We’re going to have to see how Aaron Craft handles it.
9. MITCH McGARY
Coming out of high school, he was heavily regarded in his class but during last season didn’t live up to the expectation placed upon him. But when the NCAA tournament came around, he was a different player and showed flashes of his potential. He played so well that some were even talking about him as a potential No. 1 pick in last summer’s NBA Draft. Let’s see if Mitch can bring the noise this year and continue doing his thing.
8. JAHII CARSON
Opting out of the draft may have been smart but also ignited a lot of pressure for Jahii Carson. As a freshman he averaged 18.5 ppg and set three freshman records. Coming back secures his future, but for the present? He will be expected to do even more. Now, the pressure is really on considering ASU has not made it to the NCAA Tourney in past years. Therefore the question is — with Jahii Carson back at ASU, will he be the force he was and finally take ASU to the next level?
7. RODNEY HOOD
Two years ago at Mississippi State, he handed out 10.2 ppg. Then he transferred to Duke. Before he can even play his first game, he suffered a season ending injury and was sidelined for the entire season. Despite sitting out last year, Duke has recently announced him as a captain for the 2013-2014 season. With great power comes responsibility and naming him as a captain before the season start has pressure written all over it.
6. P.J. HAIRSTON
We think it is apparent to not only us but you guys reading that Hairston had himself quite an eventful summer. After dropping a team-high 14.6 ppg last year, the wing player was cited for speeding in May, arrested on charges of possessing marijuana and driving without a license (later dismissed) in June, and then in July was pulled over for speeding and careless and reckless driving. Ouch. Now Roy Williams says Hairston’s suspension is yet to be finalized. Whenever the sharpshooter does come back, he’ll have a lot to prove. Is he really the player we believe he can be or were we all setting the bar too high?
5. WILL SHEEHEY
Throughout his career, Will Sheehey has been looked as the “glue” guy or the player who does all the intangibles. Over the course of three seasons with Indiana, his numbers have steadily climbed, climaxing at 9.5 ppg and 3.5 rpg last year. Although he’s never been more than a role player up to this point, with Indiana losing four starters, Will Sheehey is going to have to step it up and be a leader.
4. RUSS SMITH
Automatic pressure is put on you when you are a defending NCAA champion. It gets amplified when you come back to school after nearly throwing a championship away by shooting 3-for-16 in the National Championship Game. With Peyton Siva gone for the NBA and with scouts everywhere wondering whether the 6-0 Smith can man the point, Russ Smith is going to be looked at to be a leader of an experienced Louisville team in a newly renovated conference. It is going to be interesting to see how Russ Smith will rise to the occasion. Will he be the guy who scored at least 21 points in five straight NCAA Tournament games?
3. MARCUS SMART
After deciding to return back to Oklahoma State for his sophomore season, Marcus Smart is going to have a lot of explaining to do to the nation. Why? That’s the question that’ll be following him all season. The only way he’ll ever be able to answer is by winning. With Kansas building a powerhouse and a new potential lottery pick in the Big 12 conference in Andrew Wiggins, Marcus Smart is going to have to be more than the 15.4-point, 5.8-rebound, 4.2-assist and 3.0-steal per game man he was last year.
2. KENTUCKY (THE WHOLE TEAM)
Wanna talk about pressure? Let’s talk about the Kentucky Wildcats. We know the list specifically says “college players under the most pressure” but this team went through some hardship in the last year. With a great recruiting class in 2011 and championship, 2012 was supposed to be no different. Loaded with freshmen like Nerlens Noel and Alex Poythress, this team was supposed to have a great season. They did the opposite. Kentucky finished 21-12 in the SEC, lost in the conference quarterfinals to Vanderbilt and then were invited to play in the NIT and lost in the first round to Robert Morris. The question is what makes this year different? With a load of new freshmen… from the Harrison twins to Julius Randle coming in, they are going to have the weight of last season on their shoulders. Anything less than a title will be looked at as a failure for perhaps the most talented freshmen class in history.
1. ANDREW WIGGINS
Andrew Wiggins. All-American. Phenom. Perhaps the biggest recruit with the most potential we’ve seen in the past years. The expectation level is set so high let’s hope his 6-8, 200-pound frame can carry it. With Andrew Wiggins coming to Lawrence, it will only mean the he will get every team’s best shot every night. That’s what happens when you’re the most talked about incoming freshman in a long time. Shoe deals are already being talked about. Championships. Some are even saying he should’ve skipped college ball altogether. This is really rare, so it’s evident to all that everybody is coming for Kansas, specifically for Andrew Wiggins. With the Jayhawks losing Travis Releford at the small forward position, and a really young roster, Andrew Wiggins is going to step right into the fire. He’s the first Big 12 player since Kevin Durant to be named to the preseason all-conference team and will be looked at to provide a lot of scoring for Kansas. Now with awards already coming and with him gracing magazine covers before his first midterm test, you tell us who has more pressure than Andrew Wiggins.
The stage is set. Will he live up to the hype?
Who is under the most pressure in college ball this year?
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