It has been another topsy-turvy offseason in men’s college basketball. With all the transferring, shuffling in and out of the NBA Draft and NIL madness, it’s hard to recall who will play where when the season tips off in about six weeks. In time, the unfamiliar will become familiar again, and the sport will resume its annual, titillating march to March.
A handful of players who will be taking the court this season have already made names for themselves. Many more will be trying to make their first real impressions. For those caught in between, the season presents another type of test — and opportunity — altogether. We know who they are, and we’ve seen them play. We just don’t quite know what to make of them yet.
In other words, they still have something to prove.
Thus, it is time once again to present my list of 25 players with something to prove. These guys generally fall into three categories: Players who tested (or considered testing) the NBA Draft waters, only to find out the pros didn’t want them; players whose season was a disappointment, either because of poor performance or injury; and players who transferred to give themselves a fresh start or the chance to go up against a higher caliber of competition.
For individuals as well as teams, there is much to be won and lost in the months ahead. Here are 25 guys who have an especially large stake in those outcomes:
25. Terquavion Smith, 6-4 sophomore guard, NC State
Casual basketball fans may be unfamiliar with Smith, who was ranked No. 94 in the Recruiting Services Consensus Index coming out of high school, but after he averaged 16.3 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists as a freshman, he caught the attention of NBA scouts.