Put ’em in coach: 5 players who deserve more minutes

Terry Whisnant II (6’3 FR) , Florida State: 11.2 mpg

Last year’s Mr. Basketball in North Carolina, Whisnant entered the Seminole program with the well-earned reputation as a high-volume scorer. He admitted that defense wasn’t his strength, and in Leonard Hamilton’s system if you can’t run the D you don’t play. But Whisnant brings a couple things to the table that the Seminoles need (not to mention, FSU junior Michael Snaer has stated that Whisnant is a sponge for learning about the system on both ends of the floor). FSU is 248th in 3-pt%. Whisnant is already 2% above that, and this takes into account that he began the season like a deer in headlights and shot 1-10 out of the gate. Once he saw back-to-back shots fall against Charleston Southern he seemingly found his confidence and and since hit 9-20 (45%) from beyond the arc. The other glaring weakness to the Seminoles offense is a 26.5% turnover rate, which ranks 334th nationally. Whisnant’s rate is 12.7%, and he’s the only active player below 23%. To top it off he’s generated an impressive assist rate (20.1%) which is rare for a spot-up shooter.

PJ Hairston (6’5 FR) , North Carolina: 12.1 mpg

Hairston will be the offensive star of next year’s Carolina team, but for now his job is to provide instant offense off the bench. Though he’s done this so well that Roy Williams needs to find him more minutes. Hairston has the highest offensive rating on the team (129.6) and has done so by hitting 38% of his 3s and 83% of his FTs. He draws fouls at a greater rate than any of the starters, and he addresses UNCs only offensive weaknesses. They are 276th in FT% (and he shoot 83%) and 120th allowing steals (his turnover rate is the lowest on the team for anyone playing >6 minutes a game).

Kevin Young (6’8 JR), Kansas: 9.6 mpg

In the Blue Ribbon Yearbook, Young – a transfer from Loyola Marymount – didn’t even classify as a ‘key reserve’ for the Jayhawks. And in KU’s first 8 games Young averaged 7 minutes a game (appearing in 7 games), averaging fewer than four points. Then came their upset of Ohio State. Afterwards coach Bill Self had this to say: “Kevin probably had as much to do with us winning the game as anything. He scored points for us, but he did a great job on [Deshaun] Thomas the second half. Great job. I haven’t seen that, or if I have seen it, then certainly we’ve made a mistake by not playing him as much. But that was something today like his coming-out game.” After that 14-point, 24-minute performance, Young has played 23-minutes combined in the next two games. He has the highest offensive rating on the team (122.2) and addresses the primary KU problem which is turning the ball over (211th nationally). Young’s 14.6% turnover rate is at least 4% better than every Jayhawk regular.

Chris Johnson (6’5 JR), St. Bonaventure: 10.1 mpg

Johnson, a JuCo transfer, has sat out a year (while practicing) to focus on academics. Now he’s focusing on his role. In 11 games for the Bonnies Johnson has played 4 or fewer minutes seven times. Twice he’s played more than 25. Johnson has the highest offensive rating on the team and has hit 43% of his 3s, 50% of his 2s, and 90% of his FTs. He has an excellent turnover rate (16.7%) while the Bonnies do not (264th nationally). He’s also drawn fouls at a higher rate than anyone on the roster.

Percy Gibson (6’9 FR), Iowa State: 11.4 mpg

Gibson is the tallest player on Iowa State’s roster (among those who are averaging more than 4 minutes). He was arguably the top post player in the Detroit area as a high school senior, and that has translated well to the college game where he’s connecting on 74.3% of his 2s. He has the 2nd highest defensive rebounding rate on the team, and a respectable 3.3% block rate. He’s averaged almost 17 minutes over the past five games, but now it’s time for him to become a full time player. Fred Hoiberg needs him in order to compete in the Big 12.