clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Searching for a Superstar

Is there a true superstar in NCAA Basketball?


Ask yourself this simple question: who is the face of college basketball? No, you can't say Mike Krzyzewski. I mean a player. Which player is the face of college basketball? Cody Zeller? Victor Oladipo? Doug McDermott? Those arguments could be made, but on the other hand those are all guys in the Midwest. I doubt they know about McDermott out west, where Anthony Bennett, Kelly Olynyk and Shabazz Muhammad make the headlines, or out east where Michael Carter-Williams, Mason Plumlee and Russ Smith are considered the best players in the nation. Great players are considered on a regional basis. There are no superstars. Why? Because by the time we realize they're superstars, they're already gone.

This piece isn't meant to call out the stupidity of the one and done rule but I suppose these things sort of go hand in hand. If we didn't have the one and done rule there wouldn't be any high-profile freshmen. On the opposite end of the spectrum the reason why we never see players turn into superstars is because of the rule. You can debate the merits of why the rule is in place and realize that it's absolutely ridiculous to say that the NBA can tell a kid "no, you can't make money and you need to go to school" so the kid goes to school and takes 9 credit hours of Introduction to Basket-Weaving, Badminton and Water Polo 101 but uh...yeah.

I digress, that isn't the point. The point is that college basketball doesn't have superstars anymore. The first problem is the media coverage. Players like Bennett, McDermott, Olynyk and Muhammad are rarely on television. If they are, it's on Fox Sports or the 9:30PM game on ESPN. They don't receive the coverage that kids like Carter-Williams, Plumlee and Russ Smith do. Naturally, those guys receive the bulk of the TV time because ESPN loves them some Duke, New York has a giant media market and the Big East is dominated by basketball.

The second issue is that I don't believe any of these players truly transcend the game. They aren't labeled superstars because they aren't superstars. No one really paid attention to Plumlee until he was a senior. That's saying something. The other players are too young (like Burke) or too sloppy (like Russ Smith) to be considered the face of college basketball. That isn't to say they aren't great players. They are. There's just that "it" factor missing.

And a lot of it has to do with age. Tremendous, NBA ready freshmen are few and far between. Great players often have to develop over time and become superstar players. Unfortunately, we rarely see it because they're off to the NBA as soon as eligible.

And we all know what's going to happen. The NCAA Tournament is going to roll around and a Curry, Jimmer or a Scottie 2 Hottie will pop up and the media will say "WOW, where did THAT guy come from?" Only to realize, that guy has been around all year...they just weren't paying attention. Between regional biases and flawed players I don't think there is a superstar in college basketball right now. There isn't a face. The last player I'd consider a superstar is John Wall and hell, he was only really famous for this:

Do you think there's a face of college basketball? If so, who?