I talked with Daniel Mullings and Bandja Sy last week as they started their summer workouts and will have feature stories on each player in the coming week. Here is my story on Mullings, who is working on his offense in the summer time.
Leadership wasn't an issue for the Aggies last year as there was a clear hierarchy in the lockerroom it seemed that started with Wendell McKines and trickled down to the experience of fellow seniors Hernst Laroche and Hamidu Rahman.
I would argue that along with the skill level of those players, the leadership and experience were just as important to the team's Tournament season. You can have all of the physical tools in the world, but if personalities don't mesh, as seemed to be the case last year prior to Christian Kabongo's departure, it could lead to a slow start and then who knows what can happen.
With McKines and Laroche gone, who steps into those shoes next year?
The first player to come to mind is Tyrone Watson. He's proven to be an important player in the past two years and he has the experience and he's one of only two seniors. I love Tyrone's game and I think he is the man for the job, but this is probably the first time I can remember where the team's best leader coming into the season is not the best player. Not neccesarily a requirement for a leader, but it's a new dynamic for the Aggies dating back to Justin Hawkins, Jahmar Young and Jonathan Gibson and most recently with Wendell McKines and Hernst Laroche. Those were all guys who put up numbers every night while Tyrone is more of a steady presence who is not great in any category but is a complete player.
As the other senior, Bandja Sy will also have the respect of his teammates, if not for his experience the past two years, but also the physical gifts he possesses. Sy is a quiet personality by nature, and even Sy knows leadership isn't his strong suit, but it's something you can work on.
The third player who I could see having an impact on a leadership level is sophomore point guard KC Ross-Miller. I've spoken with Ross-Miller just once, and really don't know much about the makeup of the player or his game, but just from a position standpoint, the point guard is normally a player his teammates listen to and respect. He certainly has some big shoes to fill in that regard.
I'm sure there are personalities that will emerge as roles are defined this summer and fall. I was impressed with both incoming freshman Matej Buovac (a captain on his Croatia junior national team) and Kevin Aronis, who joins the Aggies with the maturity of a junior.