For those new here, I made a list back in October choosing each member of the then 15 man roster, and ranking them on how important they were in terms of success with the basketball team as a whole. I'm going back now and redoing the list and seeing how I did. For the countdown so far, and to see each of the entries, click here.
There really isn't much separating Mike Mercer and Chris Howard on the countdown. Both guys did a tremendous job this year for us while logging an insane amount of minutes. Both brought completely different elements to the team that worked perfectly in the system. There really isn't a 2 and 3 on the countdown, but more of a 2 and 2a. But since we are doing this, the Third Most Important Player for USF Basketball This Year is Mike Mercer!
Mike had a fantastic senior year for us, averaging 9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.4 assists this year for the Bulls. We don't need to go back on Mercer's history, but it's great to see that a guy who had a 2nd chance took the opportunity and relished each moment on the court this year.
Mike was guarding guys 3-4 inches taller than him regularly in Big East play, and more often that not locked them down. Mercer's wingspan and athleticism bothered opposing wings when going to the basket, and when they pulled up for a jumper Mercer's vertical persistently bother them.He really shouldn't have been able to take care of guys like Tom Abromaitis, but he was such a bulldog on that side that he wouldn't be denied.
Mercer's explosive dunks were a joy to watch this season. You could always count on at least one backdoor alley oop from Chris to Mike a game. Just watch this replay at around the 23 second mark and you can see what a beauty of a play it was. It could never be stopped. My favorite play of the year is the exclamation point that Mercer had to the end of the Georgetown game in DC. I'm sure Toro still has dreams about the reverse pump action slam. In can not be said how that play made everyone realize that USF was going to be a force. I still get a smile on my face whenever I think about it.
I hope Mike finds a place overseas to play ball. He certainly deserves the opportunity. If not, he can always fall back on the degree he earned here and make a good living for himself.
So who should be Number 2 on The Most Important Player for USF Basketball Countdown? Your answers are below.