There’s nothing like a great glue guy, the types of players that aren’t maybe the top talents on their respective teams, but still manage to do all the little things that affect winning. Check out our list below as we highlight 10 Glue Guys to watch entering the 16-17 season. In no particular order…
Robert Johnson, Indiana: People don’t understand how steady this kid has been for the Hoosiers over the past two years. The 6-3 Johnson affects the game in a plethora of ways and has regularly made timely three-point shots in addition to helping out with ball handling responsibilities. Don’t be shocked to see Tom Crean have Johnson regularly initiate offense next season as Indiana attempts to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year with this kid in the program.
Gary Clark, Cincinnati: The reigning American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year has made his mark as the Bearcats’ unofficial enforcer. Silent yet violent, Clark epitomizes Cincinnati’s brand under Mick Cronin more than maybe any other player in the Bearcats’ program.
Amile Jefferson, Duke: Mike Krzyzewski told me in June that Jefferson has to be the Blue Devils’ version of Draymond Green next season and that’s just what he showed in limited action a year ago. In the nine games that Jefferson played before going down with injury, he averaged 11.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks. The 6-9 veteran isn’t getting the same amount of ink as Grayson Allen, Jayson Tatum, or Harry Giles heading into next season, but the Philadelphia native could be a major key to Duke winning its sixth national title under Krzyzewski.
Casey Benson, Oregon: There’s absolutely no way the Ducks would have went to the Elite Eight last season without Benson. Always poised and always under control, the lefty point guard averaged one turnover every 45.5 minutes and ran Dana Altman’s offense with the precision of a surgeon. Oregon looked like they were headed for purgatory when it lost Dylan Ennis for the year with a foot injury, but thanks to Benson, it instead wound up a game away from the Final Four.
Zak Showalter, Wisconsin: If you need this guy to make the extra pass, he’ll do it. If you need him to take a charge, he’ll do that too. What does Showalter not do for the Badgers? It’s going to take some time to figure that out. Wisconsin went to back-to-back Final Fours a few years ago thanks to the leadership of a proud veteran in Josh Gasser and Showalter has similar requisites. This kid is quickly becoming a cult hero at the Kohl Center.
Ismael Sanogo, Seton Hall: The unsung presence in the Pirates’ run to the Big East Tournament title, Sanogo had 18 games last season with eight rebounds or more. Under recruited out of high school, this 6-7 forward has made for himself in college basketball thanks to the biggest weapon he has — his heart.
Kyle Davis, Dayton: The Flyers have advanced to three straight NCAA Tournaments since this kid has been in the program and it says here a fourth is likely in the works for 2017. Davis doesn’t get the same pub as guys like Scoochie Smith, Charles Cooke, and Kendall Pollard, but he’s had a major hand in Dayton’s success under Archie Miller — especially on defense. The 6-foot lefty has averaged over 26.0 minutes in each of the last two seasons and always seems to balance things out for the Atlantic 10’s top program.
Wenyen Gabriel, Kentucky: This 6-10 freshman can guard five different positions on the floor and should bring major intangibles to the Wildcats in 16-17. Think a bigger version of DeAndre Liggins, who thrived defensively for John Calipari when Kentucky advanced to the 2011 Final Four.
Quentin Snider, Louisville: Smooth beyond his years, Snider is only averaging a turnover every 21.1 minutes throughout his college career, a remarkable stat considering how much he handles the ball as a point guard. This isn’t the most talented player on Louisville’s team, but he’s definitely the steadiest.
Sterling Brown, SMU: Blessed with great versatility at 6-6, Brown can play multiple positions and have an impact. The Illinois native averaged 10.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.6 assists while shooting 53.6 percent from three-point range last year as a junior and should blossom this season with extended minutes.
Jon Rothstein has been a college basketball insider for CBS Sports since 2010 and is the lead college basketball columnist for the FanRag Sports Network. He is also the host of the College Hoops Today Podcast via Compass Media Networks, which is available via iTunes. Rothstein is also a regular in-studio correspondent for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio. He currently lives in Manhattan.