Position Breakdown: Shooting Guard

Kevin C. Cox

With his career coming to an end in Cincinnati, can Sean Kilpatrick lead the Bearcats deep into the NCAA tournament this year?

He's been here for what seems like a decade. He's the old guy at the YMCA who doesn't look extremely flashy, but he just flat out produces. This entire position breakdown could be summed up in two words:

Sean Kilpatrick

Done. I could submit this article, close my laptop, and spend the extra time sipping bourbon while watching Monday Night Football. But since you took the time to come this far, I'll spend some time plucking at a few extra keys (although they definitely gave the new guy the easiest assignment right off the bat, huh?).

Kilpatrick's not only the unquestioned leader of the 2 guards - he's also the unquestioned leader of the 2013-2014 Bearcat squad. He has NBA aspirations. No one's in the gym more than this kid. No one understands what Mick Cronin's trying to do more than this kid. No one wants it more than this kid. No one.

Number 23 - or Killa as he's popularly known on his very busy Twitter page - has led the Bearcats in minutes and scoring the past 2 seasons, and my not-so-educated guess is that he'll do the same again this year, barring catastrophic injury.

(Side note: how badass of a nickname is "Killa?" It strikes fear in the heart of women and children - when, in reality, Sean's one of the nicest, most polite guys in all of college basketball)

The fifth year senior is set to return for his final hurrah and looks to lead the Bearcats through their first year in the AAC. Let's take a look at a few important stats from Kilpatrick's sophomore and junior years:

Year Points FG% 3PT% Mins
Junior 17 .398 .307 34.4
Sophomore 14.3 .428 .376 34.5

Number 23 obviously felt the pressure of Big East defenses making him their number 1 priority this past year as his FG% dropped a bit. And some would argue that the "stand-around-the-perimeter-and-chuck-up-a-three-pointer" offense the Bearcats instituted at times didn't help either - but I think the loss of Yancy Gates and the attention he brought down low effected Kilpatrick's FG% the most.

If Justin Jackson or Shaquille Thomas or anyone else can develop some offense around the basket, Kilpatrick will have a monster year. Given the slightly weaker conference schedule this year, I think you'll see him average around 34 minutes a game and somewhere near 19 points with a slightly better FG% than you saw last year. He's improved his handle even more, and I have a feeling we'll see him attack the basket a little more this year than we were previously accustomed to. Really went out on a limb there, didn't I?

Coach Cronin recently said in an interview with Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg that the Bearcats "had to play too slow on offense [last year]" due, in part, to Cashmere Wright's health, and that "Sean Kilpatrick's gonna be on the loose a lot more."

Anyway, Killa's goin' Killa. There's not much that can stop him. And if Number 23 is pulling in all of these minutes, who else will see time at the 2? Here's my best guess:

Jeremiah Davis III - He's coming off an injury - one that I honestly don't think bothered him that much last year. I think he was redshirted due more to the depth the Bearcats had in the backcourt than due to his hand injury. The 3rd year sophomore has been known to put in the extra work too, and he's shown flashes in the past; Davis scored a total of 22 points in his limited action last year (5 games) and three times during his freshman year he went off for double digit points.

Jermaine Sanders - He's listed as a forward, but he comes into the season second on the team in 3 point attempts (behind Kilpatrick). His release is slow, but in my gut I just feel like this guy will be more of a perimeter threat this year. Plus he's not afraid to get dirty down low if he has to, and Cronin rewards rebounders with playing time. He's slimmed down a bit (again), but I just haven't seen enough quickness out of him in the past to warrant a lot of playing time. Here's to hoping Sanders has improved his quickness and can guard the opponent's shooting guard.

Kevin Johnson - The 6'2" freshman guard hails from the Queen City, and he's been known to light up the stat sheet on any given night; he averaged almost 20 points a game his senior year of high school. Cronin recently called him the best on-ball defender he's had as a freshman, and that's not a bad thing given Cronin's propensity to reward defense. Coach has also talked about getting ALL of the freshman into the rotation early, but as the season progresses I just don't see KJ playing more than mop up duty here and there.

Deshaun Morman - Arguably the most talented of the freshmen guards, the 6'3" lefty has that attitude you just can't teach. Toughness. Relentlessness. And he can score. I personally think he holds a slight edge over Johnson, but, again, he's only a freshman. I know Cronin's talked about using a lot of players this year, but we've heard stuff like this before only to find out there's a pretty set rotation as the season progresses. I do think you'll see Morman early in the first game, but with NC State right after that, I'm not sure what to predict. This kid could surprise this year. Lord knows all of the 2 guards have an excellent role model to look up to.

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