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Freshman Point Guard Corey Sanders has been a bright spot for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights

The former four-star point guard was prolific in high school, but has managed to lead the Scarlet Knights by playing as a pass-first, defensive minded lead guard.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

It's the second week of December, which means the college basketball season is in full swing with the meat of the non-conference slate of games on the horizon and the beginning of conference play starting in a matter of weeks.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights have played north of a quarter of their games on the schedule and while the program holds a mere 4-5 record, which includes a four game losing streak, there are some bright spots amongst the roster. One of these bright spots is junior Deshawn Freeman, who has become a steady presence in the starting lineup. Before his injury, the former JUCO standout was averaging 13.1 points and roughly five rebounds per game.

That being said, one of the biggest question mark heading into the season for Rutgers was the play of true freshman point guard Corey Sanders. Through nine games, it's safe to say Sanders has lived up to the hype as the lead guard.


Upon entering his freshman campaign at Rutgers, Sanders was known as an electrifying scorer with a polarizing style of play. After earning and maintaining the starting point guard position throughout the first quarter of the season, the 6-2 guard has done a marvelous job at revolutionizing his playing style for the betterment of the program. Sanders has gone from an isolation dependent scoring guard to a pass-first, defensive minded lead guard who aims at getting open looks for teammates well before calling his own number to get points on the board.

When Sanders does try to get points on his own, he can fill it up when called upon. The freshman ranks tied for 19th in the Big Ten in scoring at 13.3 points per game. His quickness and first step allow him to be dominant off the dribble and an evolving jump shot makes him even more susceptible to creating big plays. Over half of his made shots are from mid-range shots or attacking the rim. Sanders has hit on 10 of 26 from beyond the arc, which is good enough for 38.5% from the perimeter.


A positive facet on how Sanders' game has carried over swimmingly into college is his facilitation responsibilities. Sanders does a tremendous job at setting up teammates for scoring opportunities, as evident by his 4.0 assists per game mark - Sanders is 11th in the conference in assists per game. Generating looks for teammates off of fast break opportunities is where Sanders is especially dangerous. Operating in a half court setting is still a work in progress with a young point guard leading a roster full of underclassmen, but there is plenty of time to further develop the offense in a slower, half court setting.


Sanders has arguably made his biggest impact on the defensive end. Through nine games, Sanders is tied for first in steals per game (1.9). The freshman guard averages over 31 minutes a game, per ESPN, and a good portion of those minutes are spent getting steals, deflections and disrupting passing lanes for opponents. Sanders doesn't have off-the-charts length for the point guard position, but uses his high-level athleticism and quickness to make impactful defensive plays.


Head coach Eddie Jordan has done a terrific job getting Sanders to buy into the system and playing with a team-first mind frame. Operating in the half court and getting guys in the proper position to be successful is still a work in progress. Sanders has done a good job at not becoming one dimensional with his offensive attack, bringing a well rounded arsenal to the table (if the lane is cut off, knocking down a mid-range jumper is within his skill set). His shooting from the perimeter has looked pretty solid so far, but still lacks consistency. Either way, he's shown enough flashes during the beginning of his career to bring plenty of optimism to the table in Jersey.

Expectations for the Scarlet Knights in Big Ten play still remain low, which will give Sanders and company time to improve and become more cohesive. If the Scarlet Knights can recruit - and retain commitments from prospects with up tempo styles of play - Sanders should continue to flourish and blossom into one of the top point guards in the Big Ten throughout his career.