You have one possession to win a title down by one point. Who gets the ball?
Raphielle Johnson: Remember last year when Kentucky wanted Fred Van Vleet to have the ball in his hands on that final possession? That won’t be happening this time around. I’ll take Van Vleet, because not only is he a better shooter than a year ago but you’re also going to be well-positioned to get a good shot from anywhere on the floor. Question doesn’t say that he has to shoot the ball, and while I’m fine with Van Vleet taking the shot I’m even more comfortable with the likelihood that he’ll know how to find another quality option (Ron Baker or Tekele Cotton) should that opportunity arise.
Scott Phillips: Kentucky’s Aaron Harrison proved to be college basketball’s best clutch shooter after his NCAA Tournament full of daggers last season, but I’m putting the ball in the hands of a creator who can get his own look or find someone else with a pass.
I think North Carolina point guard Marcus Paige best fits the bill for my criteria and his ability to make tough shots going left or right or being able to find another option as a passer makes him a tough out.
Final plays can easily get thwarted by good scouting (like Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State’s third option on the play, shooting the final shot against Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament last season) and you need someone who can make it happen for multiple guys if the play breaks down. Paige is my guy for that job.
Terrence Payne: With the game on the line I’ll go with Marcus Paige. While he’s slow getting out of the gate this season (11.5 points and 2.5 assists per game) in North Carolina’s two wins, that’s a small sample size for the preseason All American pick. Paige, as we saw time and time again last season, could catch fire in the second half. With more offensive options alongside him this season, Paige with the ball in his hands could take the shot, or create for someone else.
Rob Dauster: There are two clear-cut choices here, in my opinion. These guys are in love with Marcus Paige, but he’s not even the best option in the ACC. That title would belong to Jahlil Okafor, who is the best low-post scorer in the country. He’ll force you to double-team him and is talented enough to pick out the right pass if he does draw extra defenders. He may not be the one to score, but getting him a touch almost guarantees a good look at the rim.
The other pick is Kevin Pangos from Gonzaga. He’s a sniper from three, he’s as good as any point guard in the country in the pick and roll, he’s finally healthy after a banged up junior year and he has major Sam Cassells.