What’s an x-factor? An x-factor is a player that does all the dirty work, the little things, the stuff that won’t necessarily get you on highlight reels but will inevitably get you Ws. It could be a player who emerges from nowhere, without any type of recognition, and becomes one of those names that gets bolded on the opposing team’s scouting report.
Every great team in history had an x-factor player that left an impact on the team. From Rodman on the Bulls to Lee Humphrey on the 2006 Florida Gators, every team needs an X-factor. I put together my top 15 x-factors in college basketball that you should pay attention to this season.
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15. PERRY ELLIS
What I think: With all the talk surrounding the phenom Andrew Wiggins, its easy to be lost in the midst of the hoopla. Coming into Kansas, Ellis was ranked ninth at his position and 35th in his class. He was looked to contribute. Judging by his 5.8 points and 3.9 rebounds a game, his freshman year was a bit rough. Now, it’s a new year and he has a bit of experience under his belt. He very well can become one of the most improved players in college basketball. Through the first eight games of the season, Perry is averaging 14.5 ppg and 6.8 rebounds per game, already doubling his points average from last year. Also, in Colorado’s buzzer-beating win over Kansas over the weekend, it was Ellis — not Wiggins — who got the ball with the game on the line and converted. (Alas, it didn’t matter.) One thing that Perry can bring to the table is his IQ and high motor, which can help the Jayhawks.
14. SHAQ GOODWIN
What I think: Coming into this 2013-2014 season, the Memphis Tigers were ranked 13th by ESPN and penned to have one of, if not the best, frontcourts in college basketball. With guards like Joe Jackson and also Michael Dixon, the guards are looked to provide a lot of the scoring for the Tigers. They have an efficient scoring unit in their guards, but with the transfer of Tarik Black, they need an inside presence that can contribute. Shaq Goodwin is that guy. Shaq will be carrying a heavy load in terms of providing a presence inside — but he can do it. He has the potential to be that scrappy guy that the Tigers need and can really blossom into a major contributor for this Memphis team.
13. CASEY PRATHER
What I Think: Faced with numerous setbacks last season, it’s as good a time as any for Casey Prather to step up. Through his career at Florida, he has been plagued with injuries, but this year he got off to a great start, averaging 19.1 points on nearly 64 percent shooting, more than tripling his previous career-high last year. Adding some size to the frontline alongside Patric Young, Prather will be not only add size but also be a great wing defender.
12. P.J. HAIRSTON
North Carolina Tar Heels
What I think: Hairston has the potential and ability to really turn around the North Carolina Tar Heels season. Well that’s if he comes back. If and when P.J is able to suit up for the Tar Heels he will be able to space the floor with his shooting, and paired with Marcus Paige, they will be a real threat.