Returning players - TJ McConnell

By Steve DiMiceli
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TJ McConnell (Career Points: 344)

In case you haven't noticed, I'm reviewing players seasons in descending order from most to least career points. Not to be lost amongst all of TJ's other Freshman year hardware like A-10 Freshman of the Year, ECAC Freshman of the Year, and the Freshman All American Team, TJ is currently the 4th leading career scorer returning to the team next year. Forget leading the conference in steals, setting the school steal record and the all time conference steal record for freshmen, Steve DiMiceli is reviewing TJ 4th! I'm sure he feels honored.

You heard it in the concourses at Palumbo and it could be overheard in at Shale's pre-game, "The kid doesn't play like a Freshman." I don't follow college basketball outside of the A-10 as much as I should but if anyone can find a Freshman point guard more polished than TJ, I'd be very impressed. This year, he played like  a Junior. We get to enjoy watching him play like a senior for the next three years.

I've been sitting on it all year, but I'll say it now. TJ reminds me of John Stockton.  He's quick and he's deceptive. He plays like an NFL safety on defense and then runs the offense like power play quarterback. I predicted 5 assists per game from him preseason.  I'll take 4.3, because I never would've dreamed of 2.5A/TO ratio. Sort of cancels itself out a little bit (read sarcasm). What impressed me most about TJ was his athleticism. I expected him to be a step slow in the A-10 but he didn't seem like he missed a beat. There was no inkling of the prima donna attitude some expected. He came in the consummate team player.

Moving Forward

Now would I like to see more from TJ? Do I think he can give us more? Certainly, I'd like to see him avoid fading during the second half of the season. I'd also like to see him take control of games a little bit more. Of course, when a guard shoots almost .50% from the floor and .40% from 3, you want him to shoot little bit more  too.

The big question to me about TJ is will the leash be taken off and when it is, will he need to grow into the bigger role or is he ready to explode. This is not just a questions for next year, but into the future. I believe he can. You don't average 30+ points a game in high school if you can't be the guy. Now, he just needs to prove to be the star. I think we're all waiting for that day, because I think in our collective heart of hearts we all realize that he could be Duquesne's superstar who takes us from just being relevant to being elite even if only for a couple of seasons. The expectations are the easy part. Making it happen is a harder.

One thing is for sure. Kid is f'ing good.

Grade A+++

What he needs to do to get the A next year

13.5 PPG
2 SPG (he can even regress here)
Maintain all of his other numbers.
5 20 point games
Taking over at least one game in the final 5 minutes.