First, what is a “Glue Guy?” A “glue guy”, a term commonly used in basketball and most often in college basketball, is a player who can hold a team together, like glue. Without that player, the team would suffer on all levels.
“Glue guys” aren’t a team’s best player. They are actually rarely the leading scorer, and they live off the box score.
They are hustle players, diving into the crowd to save a ball going out of bounds. They are streaky offensive performers, who can put up numbers when the rest of the team is struggling from the field. “Glue guys” hold the defense together, and they are gritty rebounders.
Most teams have “glue guys,” and some of the most successful teams have multiple. This is not a list of the best “glue guys” in the sport of college basketball though. If that list were to be made (which would take extensive time and research into all 350 Division 1 Men’s Basketball schools), Texas Longhorn Brock Cunningham would almost certainly be in the top 10. But Cunningham plays the 10th most minutes on his team, meaning his impact on the Tournament as a whole is unlikely to be major, though he could definitely affect the outcome of a game or two.
The following will include players on some of the top teams who have a chance to go deep into the Tournament, and who will have to perform well to hold their teams together.
Mason Gillis, Purdue, Forward
Gillis began the season on the bench, but as Big 10 action began, coach Matt Painter moved him into the starting lineup. Gillis doesn’t score much, but he does produce about seven points a game, to go along with his four rebounds a game.
Because Purdue has great depth, he doesn’t play much more than about half of the game, but he’s very efficient when he’s on the floor. He shoots better than 50% from the field, and he’s about a 50% three-point shooter as well.
He’s also great to have in close games as he shoots in the 80%s from the free-throw line. Gillis has a strong frame, making him a terrific post defender at just 6’6”, and his surprising athleticism allows him to switch onto all positions defensively. If Purdue is going to win 6 games and claim a National Title as many deem their fate, Gillis is going to be a big contributor.
Andre Jackson, Guard, Connecticut
Jackson is listed as a guard but oftentimes plays more like a forward. He’s 6’6”, and can jump with the best of them in college hoops. He puts up about seven a game but rebounds almost eight a game.
Jackson plays almost 30 minutes each contest, and although he doesn’t take a ton, when he shoots the three-ball, he hits it. With his freakish athleticism, he’s one of the best defenders in the Big East, and he’s going to haunt opposing guards come March.
Brandon Slater, Forward, Villanova
Villanova is not deep, and their depth and lack of size will be their biggest downfall all year. The main scorers, Gillespie, Moore, and Samuels will all give you double-digit scoring outputs pretty much every night.
But, Slater isn’t there to score. Slater is there for his defense and length.
When you need to rest Moore or Samuels on a bigger guard or an opposing forward, head coach Jay Wright gives the toughest defensive assignment to Slater. A decent scorer, but with a three-point shot still a work in progress, Slater makes his impact on the defensive end, disrupting some of the best scorers in the country with his wingspan which looks to be much longer than his height of 6’6”.
Adonis Arms, Guard, Texas Tech
Arms, a senior, is the definition of fighting through adversity and never giving up. He had no offers out of high school and went to Mesa Community College to play JUCO ball. Then, he transferred to a DII program, only to finally receive an offer from mid-major Winthrop.
Last season, Winthrop made the NCAA Tournament, exposing Arms to the main stage of college basketball. After Mark Adams took over for Chris Beard in Lubbock, Arms became a Red Raider. Arms utilized the transfer portal and every year of his eligibility to play Division I college basketball, and good for him for fighting through the doubters.
But Arms isn’t just a good story. Arms is a big, strong guard with a clean jumper and a knack for getting to the rim. When Tech had injury issues, Arms actually started and was one of their best players during an impressive stretch of wins without their two top players from the previous season. Arms, now coming off the bench once again, will make an impact in every game he participates in, including in March.
Da’Monte Williams, Guard, Illinois
Since the rebirth of Illini basketball over the last couple of seasons, Williams has picked up a new role as a “glue guy,” and he embraces it. He’s not a fantastic shooter, and he’s only 6’3”, but there’s a reason he starts for one of the Big 10’s best teams.
Williams is everywhere defensively, and he brings a ton of energy to the big moments. Watching his games, you’d think he averaged more than a bucket or two a game because he always hits them in the most opportune times.
To see his impact, you have to watch Illini basketball and there’s no way around it. We should really start tracking most ground covered on a possession, and most high fives given out in a timeout because Williams would be leading in every single one of those categories.
Jacob Toppin, Forward, Kentucky
After a rough year last year of turnovers and shooting struggles, Toppin had bounced back in a major way, going from a Wildcat dud to a Wildcat stud. He only gets about 15-20 minutes a game, and usually plays with fellow second-unit members. But he’s one of the leaders of the second unit.
When he’s in the game, he dominates opposing benches on the glass, and he has a nice floater game going on in the paint. Like his older brother, former Dayton, and current Knicks player Obi Toppin, Jacob is a high-flyer. He’s very efficient from the floor, and Kentucky beats you not only with their starters, but with their bench, and Toppin is a big reason for that.
Zed Key, Forward, Ohio State
Key is very important to this Buckeyes team. At 6’8”, he can rebound with the best of them, and he fits perfectly alongside star forward E.J Liddell. Key can pick up some of the more difficult defensive assignments to let Liddell save his energy for the offensive end, and he’s fantastic fighting for loose balls and rebounds.
His offensive game consists of back-to-the-basket drop steps and pump fakes and the occasional monster offensive rebound which he lays right back in. He’s the energy spark that gives this team life when their shooters are off, and he can revive this team from almost impossible depths to impact wins.
Tyler Wahl, Forward, Wisconsin
Wahl, actually the third-leading scorer for the Badgers looks like any ordinary old-school 6’9” forward. But his game is more than that.
It’s difficult to express what exactly his game is, and that may be because oftentimes he scores on hook shots and just wide-open layups. There are two likely causes for this.
First, he is an excellent roller off pick-and-rolls, and the Wisconsin guards do a great job at feeding him. Second, Wooden award candidate Johnny Davis attracts so much attention, that Wahl just slips in behind defensives when nobody’s looking.
Wisconsin needs Wahl to score, and they need him to get Davis open, and he almost never fails to do either of those two things.
Anton Watson, Forward, Gonzaga
On a team with all five starters with the ability to be double-digit scorers every night, Watson provides something different off the bench. Though he still puts up about eight or nine a game, it’s his defense and physicality that show his worth.
When starters get into foul trouble, Watson has the experience to defend opposing forwards with his 6’8” frame and wide stance. Post players struggle to back him down, and he’s not a liability offensively as Gonzaga tries to move the ball quickly down the court.
He has a similar role to last year, with fewer minutes played, but if last year was any indication of how much Watson impacts this Bulldogs team, this year is no different.
Jeremy Sochan, Forward, Baylor
The defending National Champions were really good last year, but they lost four of their five starters. Somehow, Baylor has come back this year almost as good as lasts with a chance to win back-to-back National Titles.
Sochan, a freshman from England plays a ton of minutes off the bench for Scott Drew’s squad. He’s 6’9” and a freak of an athlete, meaning he can switch defensively onto all five positions, and he can score at all levels offensively.
When he’s on the court with the second unit, he’s a mainstay in the offense and an anchor defensively and on the boards. Baylor needs Sochan off the bench to compete with the best, and when Sochan plays, Baylor’s bench unit can be unstoppable; just forget about their starters.
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