As great as college basketball is, there will always be two sad aspects to the sport: losing and the departure of our favorite players.
Some of the best players take their talents to the pro game early, others transfer, and then there are those that simply run out of eligibility.
Playing four years of college hoops may suggest to some that they aren’t of a high skill level, but that is not necessarily the case. However, it is rare for a player with NBA talent to spend all four years in college, but then again it may take all four years for that potential to be realized. Doug McDermott, Creighton’s All-American forward, seems to an exception to this as he has opted to come back for his senior year when he could have made the jump to the NBA this summer. Then again, his motives could be a bit different given he plays for his dad and the Bluejays are making the move to the Big East.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of talented seniors who had a significant impact on their team last year who are moving on with their lives and their teams must move on without them. Below is a list of six players whose presence will be most missed next year.
Vincent Council, Providence Friars
Senior season stats: 33.7 min/g, 10.5 pts/g, 3.1 reb/g, 6.8 ast/g
Council, one of the most talented point guards in the country that many have never heard of, departs the Big East after leaving a lasting mark on the conference. He exits the college hoops scene with a Big East record – most career assists. Council’s 459 conference assists surpassed the 425 by Syracuse’s Sherman Douglas in 1989.
Vincent earned All-Big East Second Team honors in the 2011-12 season and was an All-Big East First Team preseason selection for his senior season. Unfortunately, a hamstring injury suffered in the first game of the year put him on the sidelines for the next ten games, and it took him a while to regain his form.
Providence is losing a proven leader and one of the best distributing point guards in the country who had the 5th best assist rate in college basketball at 42.9% this past year. It’s not easy to replace that type of production, but the Friars are trending in the right direction and are ready to take the next step – a NCAA Tournament berth; something Council never experienced.
Mouphtaou Yarou, Villanova Wildcats
Senior season stats: 28.1 min/g, 9.9 pts/g, 7.8 reb/g
Yarou made the move to the United States from the West African nation of Benin in 2007. The forward ended up playing at Maryland’s Montrose Christian School and eventually became a highly sought after recruit.
Yarou made an immediate impact on the team as a freshman and by his sophomore year he was playing over 24 minutes per game. Yarou wasn’t the most gifted offensive player (although he did have the best offensive rating on the team this year at 107.3), but he was one of the best rebounders the team had during his career. This past season he obtained 20.8% of all available defensive rebounds and 11.6% of offensive rebounds.
Trent Lockett, Marquette Golden Eagles
Senior season stats: 26.6 min/g, 7.0 pts/g, 5.1 reb/g
Lockett, who earned his degree in just three years at Arizona State, opted to transfer to Marquette for his final season of eligibility to be closer to his ailing mother. His lone season at Marquette saw his role change a bit as his playing time and scoring decreased, but that was a product of Buzz Williams having the luxury to go ten deep on any given night.
Lockett played his way into the starting rotation and became one of the most dependable players on Marquette. It’s unfortunate that Coach Williams only had the luxury of having Lockett in a Golden Eagle uniform for a single year.
Gregory Echenique, Creighton Bluejays
Senior season stats: 22.9 min/g, 9.7 pts/g, 6.6 reb/g
Echenique, a transfer from Rutgers who played at Creighton for three years, was always very solid on both ends of the court. Not only did he pull down 20.7% and 13.7% of available defensive and offensive rebounds respectively, but he also sported a 118.7 offensive rating and shot 66% from the field. Understandably most of his shots came from right beneath the basket, but given that Doug McDermott’s offensive rating was 121.3, you have to give Echenique props for his efficiency.
Echenique, standing at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, also blocked 7.8% of opponent’s two-point attempts, which ranked him 72nd in the country. His big frame and high motor will be difficult to replace next season.
Echenique was an Honorable-Mention All-Valley honoree for the first time in his senior season. He also landed a spot on the MVC’s All-Defensive Team for the third straight campaign.
Rotnei Clarke, Butler Bulldogs
Senior season stats: 33.3 min/g, 16.9 pts/g, 2.8 reb/g
After three seasons at Arkansas, Clarke opted to transfer to Butler for his final season of eligibility. From the second Clarke stepped on the court as freshman he was regarded as one of the best shooters in the country, especially from behind the arc (averaging over 40% during his four years). He was first team All-Conference in the A-10 this season.
Clarke averaged over 30 minutes per game all four years of his career and improved his scoring from over 12 points a game his freshman year at Arkansas to almost 17 per game in his lone season at Butler. His game winning shot against Marquette in the Maui Invitational in Hawaii in November 2012 will be a highlight we will see for years to come. It will be difficult for the Bulldogs to replace such a sharpshooter.
Travis Taylor, Xavier Musketeers
Senior season stats: 31.7 min/g, 11.9 pts/g, 9.0 reb/g
A transfer from Monmouth playing at Xavier the last two seasons, Taylor went from a role player in his first season as a Musketeer to a significant contributor his senior season. He snatched up 24.2% of available defensive rebounds this past year ranking him 43rd in the country, while standing at 6-foot-8.
Taylor didn’t score the way he did in his final season at Monmouth when he averaged nearly 18 points per game, but his 12 points per game last season were respectable given the offense was a bit on the mediocre side.
Taylor was selected for the Chris Daniels’ Most Improved Player Award in the Atlantic 10 his senior season. He led the A-10 in rebounding, pulling down 10.2 rebounds per game. He also averaged 11.4 points per game, making him the only player with a double-double average in the A-10 this season.