It's never easy replacing a leader and someone who was counted on for major contributions on the basketball court and inside the locker room. When a program has to replace not one, but two leaders who were not only sought after for upperclassmen wisdom, but also stellar basketball players, there could be a bit of disarray the following season.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights enter the 2015-16 season bereft of leadership, as Kadeem Jack and Myles Mack have exhausted their collegiate eligibility. With the departure of two double-digit scorers and invaluable leaders, the Scarlet Knights are starved for a steady leadership presence and impactful performers on the court. With a young, inexperienced team - nine members on the roster are sophomores or younger - head coach Eddie Jordan and company may need to call upon an underclassman or two as coaches on the court. Corey Sanders and Jonathan Laurent could be the two who help galvanize the team heading into the first week of the season.
Sanders, a 6'2", 175-pound point guard from Lakeland, Florida became a YouTube sensation over the duration of his senior season due to his combination of elite level athleticism and entertainment value. Sanders' enthusiasm and energy level are contagious and should only excite a team seeking a spark after losing players like Jack and Mack.
Sustained success for the Scarlet Knights in 2015 largely depends on Sanders, as he will be looked upon to fill in at starting point guard right away. It will be an uphill climb for the freshman, as becoming a leader as a first-year player is not always ideal, especially in a physical conference like the Big Ten. The beauty in Sanders being a leader right away is there will be time to grow throughout the season without daunting expectations looming over the program. Rutgers is not projected to compete for a Big Ten championship or even come close to that, so this season will allow Sanders and his fellow teammates to galvanize and develop chemistry throughout the season.
Laurent, a wiry 6'6" forward may not have the same leadership responsibilities as Sanders, but will be counted upon for immediate contributions on the court. Laurent's length and athleticism will allow for him to be an excellent running mate for Sanders in fast break opportunities and slashing in a half court setting.
Laurent's energy and motor could allow him to be called upon to defend the opposition's best wing player. With an impressive wingspan and quick feet, the Orlando (FL) native could be a solid perimeter defender from day one.
The two Floridians have their work cut out for them, as fans need to stay patient as this young duo continues to learn and grow into throughout the season. There are holes in each player's game, but with low expectations and plenty of time to develop skills and learn the intricacies of division one basketball, the foundation is being established in New Brunswick.